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Innovations in Rehabilitation Sciences Education: Preparing Leaders for the Future

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The genesis of this book arose from our educational consultations with many physiotherapy and occupational therapy colleagues around the world. In the course of presenting workshops that were primarily focused on problem-based learning (PBL), it became very clear to us that educators in the rehabilitation sciences were very interested in other aspects of our curricula. There were questions related to our unique clinical faculty model, our admissions processes,how we incorporate evidence-based practice throughout our programs, and the process by which we develop new models in clinical education, among many others. Physiotherapy and occupational therapy educators were clearly interested in developing creative student-centered learning activities within their own programs. Hence we designed this book to highlight, support, and illustrate educational innovations in the rehabilitation sciences curricula at McMaster University.

Although the Faculty of Health Sciences at McMaster University is known widely as the originator of problem-based learning (PBL), this book is not focused exclusively on this. The intent is not solely to promote PBL, but as its philosophical approach emphasizes student-centered learning and educational process, there are numerous examples and references to PBL throughout the book. Through sharing our experiences with educational innovation we hope to encourage educators to see the importance of integration of content and a self-directed student-centered learning process in developing curricula for current and future practice.

We felt it was important to share the successes and challenges as well as the lessons learned along the way. In doing, so we have tried to incorporate the perspectives and methods used in both curricula.We hoped to model the interprofessional collaboration that we feel is core to health care education and practice. The context and culture of our Faculty is one that encourages an interprofessional approach to education, research, and “being”. Thus, another impetus for undertaking the development of this book has been to provide a chance for all of us, as colleagues, to explore our accomplishments together as occupational therapists and physiotherapists.As busy academics, it is all too easy to continue on the path of teaching, research, consultation, service, and administration and not pause long enough to think about the innovations in which we are continually immersed.Writing this book has provided a chance to do just that and to think anew about our challenges and accomplishments.

We also felt it was important to highlight the close collaboration that exists between the occupational therapy and physiotherapy faculty at McMaster University. Although we often approach things quite differently in our separate curricula we have learned much from each other and the debate and sharing that occurs provides a fertile environment for new and creative ideas.
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