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Why Saying 'Yes' to Student PTs Ensures a Bright Future for Pelvic Health

You finally worked up the nerve to schedule an appointment to see a pelvic floor therapist. Then, just when you're feeling ready to bare it all to a healthcare professional, they ask if a student can join. Cue the anxiety sweats!

We get that it can take a lot of courage to talk about your pelvic floor symptoms with a board-certified medical professional, much less someone still in training. So, first and foremost, when it comes to getting care at Origin, know that you are in the driver’s seat. That means you have the right to consent to or refuse any aspect of your care, including having a student in your room (or on your Zoom) and when/how they participate in your visit.

To better inform your decision, we want you to understand why we give students a chance to be part of your care team.

Increasing Access to Pelvic Healthcare

Right now, there are simply not enough pelvic floor physical therapists to meet the needs of the 40M+ women and individuals with vaginal anatomy who experience pelvic floor dysfunction (not to mention all the people who could benefit from preventative physical therapy). This is in large part due to the fact that standard physical therapy education includes minimal information on pelvic floor dysfunction. Students interested in pelvic health are required to find and pay for extensive additional coursework and training. This lack of exposure to pelvic health has been found to be a large barrier to specializing in pelvic health as a new physical therapist.

At Origin, helping to remove this barrier is an important part of our mission to expand access to pelvic healthcare.

“The goal of the student program at Origin is to give prospective physical therapists the knowledge and tools they need to go into the pelvic health specialty upon graduation,” says Jenna Boyce, PT, DPT, the Origin Education Lead who directs our student program. “The more students trained at Origin, the more this niche area of PT will grow, and the more patients can get the care they need.”

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Student Training at Origin

Before being accepted into our student program, students from various accredited physical therapy programs are interviewed and screened for experience and interest in pelvic physical therapy. It's most common that the students who are accepted into our program have already taken a continued education course in pelvic health, which gives them a solid foundation in pelvic floor dysfunction.

Accepted students go through an intensive onboarding process that is similar to the rest of the clinical team. This includes learning about our unique model of care, our values, mission, and policies, as well as our documentation system, billing practices, and telehealth services. Each student then works through various training modules, including infection control, informed consent, internal and external pelvic floor muscle examination, as well as a thorough training on some of the more common conditions that we treat online and in our clinics.

While in the our program, students are assigned to work with one of our pelvic physical therapists, to mentor and supervise them throughout their rotation at Origin. “The best thing about the students at Origin is how passionate they are about women’s and pelvic health," says Jenna. "Our students are not only eager to learn the skills they need to become a top pelvic health physical therapist, their dedication to our mission leaves us all feeling more fired up and inspired."

We're proud to have created a detailed, evidence-based training program at Origin, and we're thankful for every patient who supports the future of pelvic health PT by allowing students to participate in their care.

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Dr. Ashley Rawlins, PT, DPT

Dr. Rawlins is a physical therapist at Origin who specializes in the treatment of pelvic floor muscle dysfunctions including pelvic pain, sexual dysfunction, pregnancy related pain, postpartum recovery, and bowel and bladder dysfunction. In addition to being a practicing clinician, she is a passionate educator and author.

You might have pelvic floor dysfunction and not even know it.

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