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Task Force on a Culture of Belonging Within the Physical Therapy Profession


In June of 2022, ACAPT's National Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Commission (NEDIC) hosted a Summit at The Ohio State University with the objectives to:

  • Increase the number of racial and ethnic minorities among faculty and leadership in professional education and in the physical therapy workforce.
  • Identify and promulgate policy initiatives, best practices, and resources related to increasing recruitment, enrollment, retention, and graduation of racial and ethnic minority students (Black, Native American or Tribal Groups, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, and LatinX) in physical therapist professional education programs.

This invitation-only event brought together representatives from seven health professions including physical and occupational therapy, allopathic and veterinary medicine, pharmacy, athletic training and chiropractic/naturopathy and industries including law, education, business, and engineering to craft the foundation for best practices and resources that will transform the educational experiences of underrepresented minority students and faculty in physical therapy.

With recognition that quality improvement requires the analysis of rich data to best inform change, two members of the Commission engaged in an intentional process and use of varied methods to review data and identify primary themes from the Summit. Using common qualitative analytical methods such as content analysis, textual data collected from the Summit was coded and categorized for the purpose of summarizing and developing primary themes. Frequent debriefing sessions occurred between the two primary members engaged in analysis as well as other members of the Commission.

Based on analysis of data collected from the Summit, several themes were identified as the key drivers which contribute directly to achieving the aim of increasing representation among faculty and students from historically excluded racial and ethnic groups. One of those themes has resulted in the creation of this task force.

Purpose: The purpose of this task force is:

To find mechanisms to ensure that students and faculty from historically marginalized and excluded racial and ethnic groups in physical therapy experience (a sense of) belonging.


This task will:

  • Utilize the data from the NEDIC Summit to identify gaps in current areas and activities in physical therapy education where belonging can be measurably and sustainably improved.
  • Collect, review, and analyze additional available data related to on belonging for historically marginalized and excluded racial and ethnic groups in physical therapy education and clinical practice – students, faculty, and clinicians.
  • Decide which changes need to be made to measurably increase (sense of) belonging for historically marginalized and excluded racial and ethnic groups in physical therapy.
  • Propose policies, guidelines, best practices, standards, and/or resources for adoption and implementation within academic physical therapy


Chair:     Kimberly Varnado, PT, DPT, DHSc, FAAOMPT - College of Saint Mary

Commissioner Liaison: Dawn S. Brown, PT, DPT, EdD - Governors State University   

  • Julian Magee, PT, DPT, ATC - Washington University in St. Louis
  • Keshrie Naidoo, PT, DPT, EdD -  MGH Institute of Health Professions
  • Charlene Portee, PT, PhD, FAAPT - Alabama State University
  • LaDarius Woods, PT, DPT, PhD - Alabama State University

Check out the Center for Excellence in Academic Physical Therapy


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