Model Position Description for the ACCE/DCE: PT Program

This comprehensive position description was initially compiled in 1991 based on position descriptions provided by individual Academic Coordinators of Clinical Education (ACCEs) throughout the United States. This current version of the model position description was developed based upon Academic Coordinators/Directors of Clinical Education suggested revisions to the 1999 model position description. The position description represents an aggregate perspective of a broad continuum of activities and responsibilities assumed by ACCEs/DCEs in physical therapist and physical therapist assistant programs in 2002. This description is meant to serve as a resource and guide and primarily emphasizes roles and responsibilities associated with the management of the clinical education program with the understanding that additional responsibilities are expected of a faculty memberrelated to teaching, service, and scholarship. Expected roles and responsibilities for this individual ultimately lie with the individual academic program and institution.

Physical Therapist (PT) Program

Position: Academic Coordinator/Director of Clinical Education (ACCE/DCE)

Reports to: Program Director/Chair, Dean, others

Minimum Requirements (no specific order) 

  • Graduate of an accredited physical therapist professional program or deemed equivalent non-accredited program.
  • Earned post-professional master's degree in physical therapy, education, clinical specialty, or other related fields of study.
  • Licensed or eligible for licensure in the state where employed.
  • Minimum of 3 years experience as a licensed physical therapist.
  • Minimum of 3 years of clinical teaching and/or clinical coordination experience.
  • Strong communication, organization, interpersonal, problem-solving, and counseling skills.
  • Current knowledge and skill in the use of information and computer technology (e.g., word processing, e-mail, database) or proven ability to learn these skills.
  • Able to work with students with special needs based on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
  • Knowledge of legislative, regulatory, legal, and practice issues affecting clinical education, students, and the profession of
  • Able to meet faculty requirements as stated in the Evaluative Criteria for Physical Therapist Education Programs.
  • Design and conduct independent and/or collaborative research in clinical education or related areas.
  • Member of the American Physical Therapy Association.
  • Able to initiate, administer, assess, and document clinical education programs.
  • Able to work independently and coordinate work with colleagues and peers.
  • Able to travel, as needed.

Preferred Requirements 

Possess all minimum requirements, with the addition of ... (no specific order)

  • Prior teaching experiences in a physical therapist academic program and/or administrative experience in clinical practice.
  • Earned doctoral degree or enrolled in or desire to pursue doctoral studies.
  • Knowledge of educational, management, and adult learning theory and principles.
  • Active in clinical practice, especially as applicable to clinical education.
  • Active in professional activities at local, state, and/or national levels.
  • Earned status as an APTA Credentialed Clinical Instructor.


ACCE/DCE Position Description

The ACCE/DCE holds a faculty (academic or clinical) appointment and has administrative, academic, service, and scholarship responsibilities consistent with the mission and philosophy of the academic program. This individual demonstrates competence in clinical education, teaching, and curriculum development. In addition, the ACCE/DCE primary responsibilities are to plan, coordinate, facilitate, administer, and monitor activities on behalf of the academic program and in coordination with academic and clinical faculty. These activities include but are not limited to the following:

  • developing, monitoring, and refining the clinical education component of the curriculum,
  • facilitating quality learning experiences for students during clinical education,
  • evaluating students' performance, in cooperation with other faculty, to determine their ability to integrate didactic and clinical learning experiences and to progress within the curriculum,
  • educating students, clinical and academic faculty about clinical education,
  • selecting clinical learning environments that demonstrate characteristics of sound patient/client management, ethical and professional behavior, and currency with physical therapy practice,
  • maximizing available resources for the clinical education program,
  • providing documented records and assessment of the clinical education component (includes clinical education sites, clinical educators, etc), and
  • actively engaging core faculty clinical education planning, implementation, and assessment.

The ACCE/DCE serves as a liaison between the physical therapy program and the clinical education site as part of his/her responsibilities. The ACCE/DCE, in cooperation with other academic faculty, establishes clinical education site and facility standards, selects and evaluates clinical education sites, and facilitates ongoing development of and communication with clinical education sites and clinical faculty.

ACCE/DCE Position Responsibilities 

The ACCE/DCE is responsible for coordinating and managing the efforts of the academic program and clinical education sites in the education and preparation of PT and PTA students by performing the following activities:

I. Communicates Between the Academic Institution and Affiliated Clinical Education Sites

A. Communicates news, and current information (eg, curriculum, clinical education objectives, staffing changes, and site availability) among all concerned stakeholders (eg, the academic institution, clinical education sites, clinical faculty and students) to maintain current knowledge of the educational program, the clinical education site, and health care changes affecting clinical practice and education.

B. Provides ongoing communication with clinical educators at each clinical education site to include:

  • philosophy of the academic program;
  • academic program curriculum and specific syllabus and learning objectives for each clinical experience and behavioral expectations that may not be addressed by learning objectives;
  • policy and procedures of the academic program pertaining to clinical education;
  • current materials required for accreditation;
  • clinical education contractual agreement negotiated and maintained between the academic program and each clinical education site;
  • dissemination of appropriate student and related information (e.g., health insurance, liability/malpractice insurance, state/federal laws and regulations such as ADA);
  • collection of information about clinical education sites for use by students in their selection of or assignment to clinical education sites;
  • provision of dates for each clinical education experience;
  • academic program requests from clinical education sites regarding the number and type of available student clinical placements;
  • coordinating student assignments (consideration might be given to items such as patient variety, health care settings and size, types of learning experiences, clinical site and student expectations, strengths/limitations of clinical experiences);
  • clinical faculty development opportunities including educational seminars and faculty availability as a resource in their areas of expertise, and;
  • maintenance and distribution of a clinical education manual.

C. Communicates and oversees communication with Center Coordinators of Clinical Education (CCCEs), Clinical Instructors (CIs), and students to monitor progress and assess student performance. Provides guidance and support as required to problem solve and discuss pertinent issues with student(s), CIs, and/or CCCEs.

D. Places, supervises, and communicates with students while on clinical experiences. Responsibilities associated with these roles include, but are not limited to:

  • informing students of clinical education policies and procedures;
  • supplying relevant clinical education site information to facilitate students' selection of or assignment to clinical education sites (eg, learning experiences, clinical site prerequisites, housing availability);
  • providing a process for students to assess their performance and satisfaction;
  • preparing clinical rotation assignment schedules and coordinating information dissemination to clinical education sites;
  • assisting with educational planning, behavior/performance modification, remedial education, referral to student support agencies (financial aid counseling as required), and;
  • arranging for periodic and or impromptu visits/communication to students, clinical education sites and clinical faculty as needed to problem solve, support, and discuss pertinent issues with student(s), CIs, and/or CCCEs.

E. Evaluates each clinical education site through student feedback, on-site visits, and ongoing communications and routinely shares this information with academic and clinical faculties. Provides feedback to clinical educators concerning their effectiveness in delivering clinical learning experiences based on student feedback and through direct observations.

II. Clinical Education Program Planning, Implementation, and Assessment

A. Performs academic responsibilities consistent with the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE), and with institutional policy.

  • Coordinates and teaches clinical education courses and other related course content based on areas of content and clinical expertise.
  • Directs effort and attention to teaching and learning processes used throughout the curriculum (eg, management and education theory, adult learning).
  • Monitors and documents the academic performance of students to ensure that they successfully achieve the criteria for completing clinical learning experiences.
    • Reviews and records student evaluations from CIs and determines the final grade for all clinical education courses in the curriculum.
    • Utilizes intervention strategies with CIs, CCCEs, and students who excel or demonstrate difficulties while on clinical education experiences or require learning strategies where a disabling or learning condition is present.
    • Develops remedial experiences for students, if necessary. Confers with the appropriate faculty (clinical and academic), the Program Director, Dean, Administration and other individuals (eg, counseling staff) where applicable.
  • Provides direct input into curriculum design, review, and revision processes by:
    • Collecting and organizing pertinent information from clinical education sites and students and disseminating this information to faculty during curricular review processes in a timely manner.
    • Preparing reports and/or engaging in discussions with faculty on student progress in clinical education.
    • Keeping faculty informed about the clinical education program, pertinent policies and procedures, and changes influenced by accreditation.
  • Coordinates and/or provides leadership for a Clinical Education or Program Advisory Committee consisting of area clinical educators, employers, or other persons, where feasible.
  • Participates in academic program meetings, institutional governance, and/or community service activities as appropriate to the mission of the academic institution.
  • Develops and implements a plan for self-development that includes the participation in and enhancement of teaching, delivery of physical therapy services, and development of scholarly activities (eg, scholarship of teaching, application, integration and discovery). {Refer to CAPTE Position Paper on Scholarship Expectations [PT Criterion], December 2000}
  • Functions as a faculty member in other job responsibilities as delegated by the Program Director/Chair or as required by the academic institution, Dean or other Administrator.
  • Monitors the changing health care delivery system and advises the Program Director and faculty of changing trends and potential impact on student enrollment, instruction, curriculum design, clinical education, and equipment needs.
  • Develops and administers information and education technology systems which support clinical education and the curriculum.
  • Participates in regional, state, and/or national clinical education forums, clinical education related activities, and programs designed to foster clinical education (eg, Clinical Education Consortia, Clinical Education Special Interest Group (SIG) of the Section for Education, Chapter Clinical Education SIGs, and APTA Education Division activities).

B. Manages administrative responsibilities consistent with CAPTE, federal/state regulations, institutional policy, and practice setting requirements.

  • Administers a system for the academic program's clinical education records which include:
    • current database of clinical education sites;
    • current information on clinical education site and clinical faculty;
    • status of negotiated clinical education agreement between the academic program and clinical education site;
    • utilization of clinical education sites;
    • reports on the performance of students in clinical education, and
    • reports on clinical site/faculty performance in clinical education.
  • Acts as an intermediary among the appropriate parties to:
    • facilitate the acquisition of clinical education agreements;
    • administer policies and procedures for immunization, preventive health care practices, and for management of student injury while at clinical sites, and
    • ensure liability protection of students (and faculty if required) inclusive of professional, governmental, institutional, and current risk management principles.
  • Assists the Program Director in the development of a program budget by providing input on items related to the clinical education program and overall program budget.
  • Manages fiscal allocations budgeted for clinical education.
  • Develops, implements, and monitors adherence to policy and procedures for the clinical education component of the curriculum.
  • Develops, administers, and monitors the academic program's evaluation process for the clinical education component, including instruments used for evaluation of student performance, clinical education sites and faculty.
  • Participates in the preparation of accreditation documentation and outcome performance assessment of students in the physical therapy program.

III. Clinical Site Development

A. Develops criteria and procedures for clinical site selection, utilization, and assessment (eg, APTA Guidelines for Clinical Education).

B. Establishes, develops, and maintains an adequate number of clinical education sites relative to quality, quantity and diversity of learning experiences (i.e., continuum of care, commonly seen diagnoses, across the lifespan, health care delivery systems, payers, cultural competence issues) to meet the educational needs of students and the academic program, the philosophy and outcomes of the program, and evaluative criteria set by CAPTE.

C. Provides clinical education site development opportunities through ongoing evaluation and assessment of strengths and areas needing further development or action (eg, in service training, discontinue student placements).

IV. Clinical Faculty Development

A. Collaborates with clinical faculty to promote, coordinate, plan, and provide clinical faculty development opportunities using effective instructional methodologies and technologies.

B. Encourages clinical faculty to participate in local, statewide, and national forums designed to foster and discuss issues addressing clinical education.

C. Maintains knowledge of current trends in health care and its affect on clinical education and apprises clinical educators and faculty of any changing trends.

D. Mentors other academic faculty about their role and responsibilities related to clinical education (eg, clinical site visits, determining readiness for the clinic).