If physical therapy wants to truly embrace its vision of transforming society, the profession will need to be equipped with a diverse, well-educated workforce comfortable with innovation and capable of working across disciplines. It's an idea that's as fundamental as it is complex, and one that the 2014 House of Delegates (House) supported through several education-related motions passed at its most recent session June 9–11 in Charlotte, North Carolina.
The motions approved by the House included "Promoting Excellence in Physical Therapist Professional Education" (RC 12-14), a position that spells out the association's commitment to educational program quality, and its expectation that physical therapists (PTs) who teach in and oversee these programs share in this concern for quality.
Specifically, the position sets out the expectation that PTs with an interest in teaching possess advanced terminal degrees or a clinical doctorate; and that they agree to teach in or direct only programs that demonstrate a commitment to innovation and excellence. The new position also calls for the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE) to adopt stringent criteria "to reflect the needs for qualified faculty and program directors, access to sufficient clinical education sites, and adequate infrastructure (eg, physical, fiscal, and personnel); and the current and emerging needs of society."
The House also focused on supporting clinical education through the adoption of a motion that directs the association to engage in a collaborative process to establish best practice "from professional level through postgraduate training" (RC 13-14). The motion calls for the association to propose "potential courses of action for a doctoring profession to move toward practice that best meets the evolving needs of society" and requires a report to the 2017 House of Delegates. Areas of focus are to include current models of PT clinical education, mandatory postgraduate clinical training, stages of licensure, findings from related studies, and information on clinical education in other health care professions.
"Best practice in clinical education and training remains an enigma, and evidence remains limited or nonexistent to determine what is most effective in these areas to enter a doctoring profession," according to the support statement that accompanied the motion. "This situation requires coordinated action to determine best practice in clinical education and training to enter a doctoring profession."
Delegates also acknowledged the increasingly important role of interprofessional education through a vote to officially endorse the Interprofessional Education Collaborative's core competencies around cross-disciplinary education and collaborative practice (RC 18-14). The competencies address values and ethics, roles and responsibilities, communication, and teamwork, with a focus on the importance of the appropriate use of knowledge of the professional's own role coupled with a solid understanding of the roles of other professions.
The support statement that accompanied the motion described the "unique opportunity" for physical therapy to join in efforts to promote these competencies. "It is critical to prepare PT practitioners capable of demonstrating these core competencies to be integral members of the health care team in serving the interests and needs of patients, clients, family/caregivers, and other health professionals," according to the statement.
Ideas of inclusiveness were also extended to more nuts-and-bolts issues of physical therapy education, when the House approved a motion to adopt a definition of an "underrepresented” minority in physical therapy education as "the racial and ethnic populations that are underrepresented in physical therapy education relative to their numbers in the general population, as well as individuals from geographically underrepresented areas, lower economic strata, and educationally disadvantaged backgrounds." [RC 14 -14]
The support statement accompanying the motion asserted that the definition will assist education programs in developing a diverse student body, and presents a view that is not prescriptive. "The … definition extends beyond traditional racial and ethnic categories to also include individuals from educationally disadvantaged backgrounds (eg, first-generation college students), low socioeconomic status, and geographically underrepresented areas (eg, Appalachia)," according to the statement.
APTA members can view videos of all open sessions of the 2014 House of Delegates online. Final language for all actions taken by the House will be available by September after the minutes have been approved.
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