Physical Therapist Clinical Education Principles

A consensus conference on clinical education on "Embracing Clinical Education Standards" initially convened on December 13-15, 2007, in Alexandria, Virginia, involving 36 invited member consultants that represented the variety, breadth, expertise, and depth of stakeholders required to converse about physical therapist clinical education. Participants engaged in a systematic process of decision-making about key components of physical therapist clinical education congruent with Vision 2020 and the DPT professional degree. Agreement was reached on recommended performance expectations for new graduates and clinical instructors (e.g. level of clinical competence, minimum required years of clinical experience, currency regarding professional policies, procedures, code of ethics, and jurisdictional law, training required for becoming a clinical teacher including APTA Credential CI or equivalency) and preferred clinical education infrastructure, organization and delivery that identified key components to enable clinical instructors to facilitate students' ability to achieve the new graduate performance expectations. Participants also offered alternative options for funding physical therapist clinical education for future exploration.

The draft consensus-based outcomes from this initial conference served as a springboard for further dialogue and document refinement through 15 regional forums throughout the United States convened from September 2008 through October 2009 with additional sessions provided at CSM 2008 and PT 2009. Approximately 1,000 total persons were involved in the discussion of the draft document. During the regional forums participants offered specific comments and suggestions to the new graduate outcome performance standards and the clinical instructor standards to clarify, organize, reformat, and revise the documents. In addition, participants identified specific opportunities and resistances to achieving outcomes associated with a preferred organization and delivery of clinical education. The revised document that included the expected level of performance for new graduates and clinical instructors were guided by the prevailing view of the majority (>70%) of the stakeholder participants from across the regional forums. Likewise, the opportunities and resistances to achieving outcomes associated with a preferred organization and delivery of clinical education reflect a comprehensive and aggregate perspective of all comments offered by participants throughout all of the regional forums that can be used to further discussions among all stakeholders involved in clinical education.

The revised document was provided in a report to the APTA Board of Directors in March 2010 along with several recommendations. The Board of Directors adopted Clinical Education Principles for new graduate and clinical instructor performance as a resource for voluntary use by physical therapist academic and clinical educators.

Thus, this resource document neither legislates nor dictates changes in clinical education, but rather provides for academic and clinical educators to use this document to inform their decision-making, to stimulate further discussion among invested stakeholders about clinical education, or to choose not to use this document.

Physical Therapist Clinical Education Principles (.pdf)