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The Mary McMillan Lecture is the most distinguished honor an active APTA member physical therapist or life member can receive.

This lecture is regarded as one of the keystone events of APTA programming. This award recognizes those who have demonstrated exemplary skills in the areas of administration, education, patient care, management, and research. 

Eligibility Requirements

Nominees must be physical therapists who are active or life members of the association.

Criteria for Selection

Recipients of the Mary McMillan Lecture Award and John H.P. Maley Lecture Award must present these lectures at an official APTA national event, and therefore selection is contingent on the recipient's ability to attend the national event at which the lecture is scheduled. Nominees for this award must have made distinguished contributions to the profession of physical therapy in the following areas:

Administration is the skilled process of planning, directing, organizing, and managing human, technical, environmental, and financial resources effectively and efficiently. Administration includes the management, by individual physical therapists, of resources for patient and client management and for organizational operations.

Education is the process of imparting information or skills and instructing by precept, example, and experience so that individuals acquire knowledge, master skills, or develop competence. In addition to instructing patients and clients as an element of intervention, physical therapists may engage in education activities such as the following: planning and conducting academic education programs for physical therapists, other providers, and students; planning and conducting education programs for local, state, and federal agencies; and planning and conducting programs for the public to increase awareness of issues in which physical therapists have expertise.

Patient Care/Patient Client Management provides services to patients and clients who are at risk for, or who have impairments, functional limitations, disabilities, or changes in physical function and health status relating to injury, disease, or other causes. The physical therapist integrates the five elements of patient-client management — examination, evaluation, diagnosis, prognosis, and intervention — in a manner designed to optimize outcomes and promote health, wellness, and fitness.

Research (critical inquiry) is the process of applying the principles of scientific methods to read and interpret professional literature; participate in, plan, and conduct research; evaluate outcomes data; and assess new concepts and technologies. Examples of critical inquiry activities include analyzing and applying research findings to physical therapist practice and education; disseminating the results of research; evaluating the efficacy and effectiveness of both new and established interventions and technologies; and participating in, planning, and conducting clinical, basic, or applied research.

A strong application should demonstrate the following:

Track record and sustained ability of contributions.

  • Wide-reaching effects of contributions, as evidenced in the quality and diversity of the letters of support received.
  • Previous recognition of contributions, as demonstrated by other awards and honors documented in the nominee's curriculum vitae.
  • Professional public visibility of contributions, as demonstrated by publications, presentations, invited lectures, appointed and elected positions held, and other information in the nominee's curriculum vitae.
  • Sustained and continuous contributions in more than one of the areas of administration, education, patient care, and research, as documented in the letters of support and in the nominee's curriculum vitae.
  • Qualitative effects of contributions on one or more areas of administration, education, patient care, and research, and on the image of the profession, as documented in the letters of support.
  • Enduring quality of contributions, or potential for continuing effects of contributions on the physical therapy profession.

Strength and clarity of specific statements from support letters and their sources.

  • Favorable comments made in the letters of support and sources of the comments.
  • Contributions to the profession.
  • Strength and clarity of specific statements in support letters and sources.

Ability to present a noteworthy lecture.

  • Acknowledged skills in the organization and presentation of written or oral communications, as documented in the letters of support and the nominee's curriculum vitae.

Letters of support that are positive, cite specific examples of professional accomplishments, and provide additional information on depth, scope, and quality in a convincing manner.

Recipient Responsibilities

The Mary McMillan Lecture Award recipient is required to deliver a lecture at a general session during an APTA national event. The lecture should not be more than 45 minutes in length and as each learning event offered by APTA meets high standards of quality, the lecturer is required to submit to APTA a lecture description, measurable learning objectives, a bibliography of reference materials (at least five references no older than 10 years), and a brief biography. The title of the lecture, if the recipient chooses to have a title in addition to the standard title (e.g., The 47th Mary McMillan Lecture) will be left to the discretion of the recipient. The content of the lecture should be related to the contributions that the recipient has made to the profession of physical therapy.  A written copy of the lecture will be submitted for publication in PTJ: Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation Journal. The recipient may request editorial assistance from association staff for preparation of the lecture, as well as for publication of the lecture.

What Recipients Receive

The Mary McMillan Lecture Award recipient will be presented with a commemorative medallion, lapel pin, and an award of recognition by APTA's president at the time of the lecture. The recipient also receives an honorarium of $4,000; a $600 stipend for a post-lecture celebration; reimbursement of up to two days of travel expenses incurred by the recipient in conjunction with travel for the purpose of delivering the lecture; and complimentary registration to the APTA national event where the recipient presents the lecture.

Submission Requirements

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

  • Current and complete curriculum vitae or resume that covers the entire career of the nominee up to the nomination for this award.
  • Letter of nomination that specifically focuses on the strengths of the nominee in relation to the award criteria, not to exceed four pages. Letters of nomination cannot serve as one of the required letters of support.
  • Six letters of support from individuals who can specifically address one or more of the criteria for selection, not to exceed two pages each. (Note: If more than six letters of support are received, only the first six will be considered. The nominator will be asked to remove additional letters.)

Submit a Nomination

The nominations call for the Honors & Awards Program is open from Sept. 1- Dec. 1. Nominations must be submitted through our online portal by Dec. 1. Late submissions will not be considered. Selected recipients and their nominators will be notified in May.

Additional Resources

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

View the 54th Mary McMillian Lecture