Award Date


Degree Type

Doctoral Project

Degree Name

Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT)


Physical Therapy

First Committee Member

Tiffany Barrett

Second Committee Member

Keoni Kins

Third Committee Member

Daniel Young

Fourth Committee Member

Merrill Landers

Number of Pages



Background: In 2018, University of Nevada Las Vegas Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) students and faculty, in cooperation with a community partner, created a student-led pro bono Back School to address a gap in healthcare for underinsured individuals with low back pain in Southern Nevada. To support the sustainability of the Back School, the authors of this paper set out to develop a student club to recruit and train DPT students to volunteer in the program using a specifically designed electronic training manual. Overall, the aim was to encourage students to join the new club's leadership team to prepare future DPT students to volunteer.

Methodology: This project provided training to University of Nevada Las Vegas DPT students using an electronic manual administered through the new club. Four DPT students--the founding executive board of the new club--created an electronic manual using Google Drive that was divided into 5 sections titled: Introduction, Back School Session, Community Partners, Licensed Physical Therapist Volunteers, and Student Physical Therapist Volunteers. The executive board held 5 virtual training sessions in which students were introduced to the Back School: trained in set-up, intake processing, screenings, and patient education given to program participants. After each training session, a quiz was administered to estimate preparedness to volunteer in the program. These virtual training sessions and assessments offered a stepwise approach to training and measured success of the training. Throughout the project, we completed structured individual and collective reflections about our experience.

Outcomes: The sustainability of the Back School was measured by student attendance to the training sessions, post-session quiz scores, and by executive board reflections throughout the creation and implementation of the electronic manual. There were 48 total DPT student club members that were trained using the electronic manual over 5 virtual training sessions. The 5 quiz scores had an average score range of 83%-100%, demonstrating competency of the material presented across all training sessions. Reflections were done individually and collaboratively by the 4 current members of the executive board before, during, and after the project which provided an excellent framework for future improvements.

Discussion: Based on our experience, in order to support sustainability of a student-led, pro-bono program, we recommend the creation of an adaptable electronic training manual and structured virtual training sessions followed by volunteer assessments. To meet the immediate needs of the community served and navigate barriers, we recommend establishing a dedicated leadership team to carry out planning and implementation of the program. Future recommendations for furthering sustainability efforts may include supplementing an electronic training manual and virtual training sessions with in-person opportunities to increase student involvement and preparation.


Schools; Backache; Sustainability


Movement and Mind-Body Therapies | Physical Therapy

File Format


File Size

680 KB

Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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