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Listening Time — 20:30

Physical therapy can’t wait another 50 years to implement competency-based education. 

Can physical therapy wait another 50 years to implement competency-based education in its professional education programs? Not according to author and Editorial Board Member Melissa Tovin, PT, PhD. Historically, physical therapy curricula have largely followed the time-based model; CBE is very different, with an evidence-based, consensus-driven set of learner performance outcomes and progress being made when competence is demonstrated along the continuum. In this conversation with PTJ Editor-in-Chief Alan Jette, PT, PhD, FAPTA, Tovin acknowledges that over the past half century some physical therapist programs have integrated important CBE elements — such as community-centered learning, professional values and behaviors essential for practice, and courses on global and community health — to help future clinicians meet societal health needs. But true CBE, says Tovin, “requires visionary leaders in PT education and real curricular change, not just add-ons. It requires a real shift in how we think about learning, learner outcomes, and learning assessment. It’s a philosophy of education that drives the design of the curriculum.” The pressures for accountability, cost efficiency, high-quality care, and equity — and the rapid growth of knowledge and technology — mean that “we can’t afford to wait another 50 years,” says Tovin. “Just adding a population health course won’t move us forward.” Tovin and Jette look at CBE initiatives in medicine, consider strategies in physical therapy, and highlight recent research.

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Alan M. Jette, PT, PhD, FAPTA, is editor-in-chief of PTJ: Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation Journal.


Melissa Tovin, PT, PhD, is a professor in the Department of Physical Therapy, Nova Southeastern University, and a board-certified clinical specialist in pediatric physical therapy. She is a member of PTJ’s editorial board.

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