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The Catherine Worthingham Fellow of the American Physical Therapy Association, the association’s highest membership category, serves as inspiration for all physical therapists to attain professional excellence.

This honor is eligible to APTA physical therapist members or life member physical therapists who have demonstrated unwavering efforts to advance the physical therapy profession for more than 15 years, prior to the time of nomination.

General Information

Catherine Worthingham, PT, PhD, FAPTA, was a change agent who was effective, respectful, and honest, and motivated others to make an impact within the physical therapy profession. She was also a visionary who demonstrated leadership across the domains of advocacy, education, practice, and research.

The purpose of the Catherine Worthingham Fellow designation, or FAPTA, is to honor her and inspire all physical therapists to attain the high level of professional excellence and impact in terms of advancing the profession she exemplified.

The FAPTA designation is the highest honor among APTA's membership categories.

Eligibility Requirements

A physical therapist or life physical therapist member of the association whose contributions to the profession through leadership, influence, and achievements demonstrates frequent and sustained efforts to advance the profession for a period of not less than 15 years preceding the nomination for election.

Submission Requirements

During the online process, the following documents will be required for upload:

A current and complete curriculum vitae or resume of the nominee should include:

  • Identification of whether articles are published in refereed or nonrefereed journals.
  • Differentiation between invited lectures, presentations, addresses, and symposia, and whether these were presented nationally or internationally.
  • Identification of service to the association and the level at which the contribution was made (national, chapter, section, district).

One letter from the nominator should:

  • State the name of the individual being nominated and a clear and compelling case for why the nominee should be granted the Catherine Worthingham Fellow designation.
  • Clearly state the nominee's primary domain in the first paragraph.
  • Summarize the content of all of the letters of support and include your own experience with the nominee to clearly illustrate how the nominee meets each and all of the following criteria for the Catherine Worthingham Fellow of APTA:
    • Criteria 1: How has the nominee demonstrated excellence in a primary domain of advocacy, education, practice, or research? Highlight and elaborate on the contributions and achievements of the nominee that are noteworthy, stand out in terms of their quality, and/or set a new standard for the profession.
    • Criteria 2: How has the nominee been nationally recognized for the impact he or she has achieved in his or her primary domain of advocacy, education, practice, or research. Provide specific examples of how the nominee's impact has been recognized by APTA members and by leaders outside the physical therapy profession.
    • Criteria 3: How have the nominee's frequent and sustained contributions (leadership, influence, and achievements) advanced the profession over a period of not less than 15 years? The information provided in this section should illustrate a nominee’s track record of consistent contributions to moving the profession forward over a period of 15 years or more. Consider a nominee’s contributions across appointed, elected, employed, and service-related positions and roles, as well as those that are a result of his or her tenure in any particular position or role.
    • Criteria 4: In what definitive ways have the nominee’s contributions and achievements promoted/encouraged the progress, growth, or acceptance of the physical therapy profession?
    • Criteria 5: The nominee should demonstrate leadership and achievements in at least two of three nonprimary domains.
  • The nominator must choose one primary domain in which the nominee has achieved national and distinct recognition. The CV, the nominating letter, and the letters of support should provide clear evidence of translation of contributions in the primary domain across at least two of the three nonprimary domains.
  • Highlight evidence of the nominee’s nationally prominent leadership, influence, and achievements within the physical therapy profession.
  • Not to exceed four pages.

completed narrative description (.pdf) (not to exceed one page) that provides a rationale for the event (and its date) that constitute the beginning of the nominee's contributions. The narrative description and its contents should focus upon a singular event and provide greater detail relating to the referenced event within the narrative form. The nominee's primary domain must be indicated on the form.

Five letters of support

  • Four letters of support from APTA members.
  • One letter of support from an individual external to the physical therapy profession that addresses the nominee's notable contributions to physical therapy, as judged from outside the profession.

Please note that all letters of support should:

  • Indicate the institution or facility with which the author of the letter is affiliated and in what capacity the author works with, has worked with, or otherwise personally or professionally knows the nominee.
  • Provide an explicit account of how the nominee meets one or more of the Catherine Worthingham Fellow criteria supported by appropriate details and examples drawn from the nominee’s professional career.
  • Reflect genuine knowledge and consideration of the nominee’s qualifications for the membership category of Catherine Worthingham Fellow of APTA.
  • Make direct reference to at least one of the nonprimary domains.
  • Not to exceed two pages each.

A table of primary and nonprimary domain examples for a Catherine Worthingham Fellow nominee’s contributions and achievements within and across domains can be accessed here.

What Recipients Receive

A framed certificate, lapel pin, and honor cord will be presented to the recipient(s) and an official announcement will appear in an association publication. Recipients also may use the FAPTA designation after their names.

Submit a Nomination

The nominations call for the 2022 Honors and Awards program are now closed. Selected recipients will be notified of receipt of the honor or award in May 2022.

Additional Resources

For questions regarding the nomination process or the award, please contact