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Task Force on Clinical Partner Engagement in Academic Physical Therapy

We invite SCCEs & clinical instructors to participate in focus groups & a 5-minute demographic survey.


The need for strong academic-clinical partnerships in PT education is well-established. Academic-clinical “collaboration and networks” was identified as one of the pillars in the Education Leadership Partnership’s (ELP) recently published Vision for Excellence in PT Education.

ACAPT’s Excellence Framework, which is foundational to its mission & vision, calls for promotion of authentic, collaborative and inclusive community partnerships. To achieve this, academic programs must cultivate and sustain meaningful relationships through investment in and collaboration with clinical educators. The National Study of Excellence and Innovation (Jensen et al.) highlights the importance of equitable relationships with each partner feeling equally valued, represented and engaged. 

In recent years, the APTA, ACAPT and the Academy have worked to increase clinical partner engagement in initiatives and events related to academic physical therapy.

  • There has been concerted effort to increase clinician attendance at the annual Education Leadership Conference (i.e.: more programming geared towards clinician educators, scholarships, etc.).
  • ACAPT National Consortium of Clinical Educator’s (NCCE) “institutional pair” membership fosters equal representation of academic program and clinical site representatives and provides opportunity for active clinician engagement at the national level.
  • National initiatives and task forces focused on the future of academic physical therapy. have had dedicated representation of our clinical partners (i.e.: Clinical Education Summit, Excellence in PT Education Task Force, Best Practices in PT Clinical Education Task Force, ELP strategy meetings, Payment for Placement Task Force, Placement Process Task Force, etc.).

Despite these efforts, the profession is still far from achieving its vision of fully integrated academic-clinical partnerships as evidenced by the results of ACAPT’s 2022 Institutional Profile Survey - 93% of respondents reported only 1-25% of their clinical partners were actively engaged with their academic program. 

ACAPT’s membership structure is currently designed for institutions of higher education with CAPTE accredited PT programs. Faculty members affiliated with member institutions can register as individual members of ACAPT. This allows engagement of multiple/all faculty of member institutions while maintaining equity with each member institution only having one designated ACAPT representative and one vote in ACAPT elections/motions.

Clinical affiliates of member institutions are able to register as individual members of ACAPT once the academic program’s ACAPT member representative confirms them. This provides clinicians with an indirect avenue for engagement in ACAPT but there is no current mechanism for clinical education sites to engage with ACAPT, which is counter-intuitive to ACAPT’s institutional membership structure. 

With the current focus on the importance of clinical partner engagement in academic physical therapy., the time is right for investigating clinical partner engagement and considering direct opportunities for engaging clinical education sites in our national organization. 


To assess the current landscape of clinical partner engagement in academic physical therapy at the local (academic program-clinical education site), regional (clinic educator involvement with regional consortia) and national (clinician/clinic site involvement in national organizations) levels.

The task force will assess both institutional (clinical education site) and individual (clinician) engagement.

Based on results of their investigation, the task force will provide recommendations to ACAPT for fostering increased clinical partner engagement in academic physical therapy.

Recommendations should focus on the supports, resources and education/training needed at the local, regional and national level as well as the potential for inclusion of clinical education sites in ACAPT’s membership structure.  


The Task Force on Clinical Partner Engagement in Academic Physical Therapy seeks to gather information from a broad array of stakeholders including academic and clinical partners, with the following objectives:

  1. Define what constitutes a clinical “site” or “setting”.

  2. Develop an inventory of the ways clinicians (ie: SCCEs, CIs, other staff at clinical education sites) are currently engaging with their affiliating academic programs, their regional clinical education consortia, and ACAPT.

    2.1. Describe the perceived value of clinician engagement in academic physical therapy. from the perspective of clinicians, academicians, and regional consortia.

    2.2. Describe facilitators and barriers to clinician engagement at the local, regional and national level.
  3. List the type of national organizations that healthcare facilities/clinical education sites engage with at the institutional level.

    3.1. Describe the role that the healthcare facility/clinical education site has within the national organization (ie: member, collaborator, advisor, etc.).

    3.2. Describe the perceived value of these interactions from the perspective of the healthcare facility/clinical education site.

    3.3. Describe facilitators and barriers to healthcare facility/clinical education site engagement with national organizations. 

  4. Provide specific recommendations for increasing clinical partner engagement in academic physical therapy.  at the local, regional and national level (i.e. resources, training, non-monetary benefits, etc.). Short term, easily obtainable recommendations as well as long term proposals to guide future task force work should be considered. 

  5. Suggest opportunities for adapting ACAPT’s membership structure to facilitate a direct relationship between ACAPT and clinical education sites and strengthen the intersection of academics and practice. 


The Task Force will be made up of the following not to exceed a total of 10 Task Force members:

i. One Chair, who will serve as liaison to the ACAPT NCCE Board and whose primary responsibilities shall be meeting with the designated Board and staff liaison on a quarterly basis, provide reports during those meetings on the progress of the task force, and ensure objectives of the task force are being met within the timeline identified.

ii. One Vice Chair who will serve as the secretary of the task force whose responsibilities include polling for meetings, developing the agenda with the Chair, circulating minutes

a. Academic faculty from ACAPT member institutions, including at least one Program Director, one Director of Clinical Education, and one faculty member (ie: primary researcher, director of pro bono clinic, faculty involved with service learning, etc.) 

b. Clinical faculty from different settings, to include at least one clinical site administrator, one SCCE, and one clinical staff member

The Task Force will seek to have:

i. Members who have experience with outreach/community engagement  
ii. Equal representation of academicians and clinicians 
iii. Representation from diverse geographic and practice settings


  • Chair:  Laurie Neely, PT, DPT - University of Central Florida, Director of Clinical Education 
  • Vice Chair:  Paul Gagne, PT, DPT - Novacare Rehabilitation, Market Manager
  • Amanda Crouch, PT, DPT - Rock Valley Physical Therapy, Clinical Manager
  • Anna Len, PT, DPT - Sensory Freeway, Director
  • Erin Green, PT, DPT - California State University, Sacrament, Assistant Professor
  • John Richard Fritzsch, PT, DPT - Electera Memorial Hospital, Physical Therapist
  • Julie Peterson, PT, DPT, EdD - Creighton Therapy and Wellness/Creighton University
  • Kathryn Zalewski, PT, MPA, PhD - University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point, Professor/Program Director
  • Joe Palmer, PT, DPT, PhD - University of Colorado, Assistant Director of Clinical Education

Check out the Center for Excellence in Academic Physical Therapy


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