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Task Force on PTA Education Program Engagement


ACAPT was incorporated as a 501c6 not-for-profit organization in the Commonwealth of Virginia in 2014, having evolved from the Council of Physical Therapy School Directors, which was formed in 1942. When the Council dissolved in 1973, members shifted their efforts to form the Academic Administrator’s Special Interest Group (AASIG) within the APTA Education Section, now known as the APTA Academy of Education. Members of the AASIG petitioned APTA to form the Academic Council in 2009, which resulted in a motion by the APTA Board, co-sponsored by the Education Section, to form a workgroup that would explore the conceptual details and a potential structure that would represent physical therapist education programs.  Eventually, the results of that workgroup led to the initial formation of the Academic Council and dissolution of the AASIG.  In 2013, two motions were presented and approved by the House of Delegates (RC 2-13 and RC 3-13) that established ACAPT as a component of the APTA with its own set of bylaws. 

Per the APTA background material that accompanied the 2013 House motion “A representative of the PTA educator community served on the initial AASIG TF that proposed the creation of the Academic Council to the APTA Board, serving as a communication conduit between the groups. During the development of ACAPT, a mechanism was discussed whereby the PTA educators could become a part of ACAPT as a group, but in the end, this option didn’t appeal to either group and it was determined that the ACAPT plan would go forward including the Physical Therapist education community at that time and that an open line of communication would be established between the PTAE SIG and ACAPT to explore potential models in the future.”

Fast forward to more recent years and PTA education programs are greater in number than DPT programs, graduate fewer students annually, and have significantly fewer faculty resources than DPT programs. The cost of PTA education is significantly less than DPT education. Minority student trends are growing in both PTA and DPT education programs. There is a well-documented student debt issue that may be an opportunity for the physical therapy profession with an alliance between DPT and PTA education programs.

PTA education programs do not have a similar organization as ACAPT and historical discussions have identified insurmountable barriers to forming an organization of the programs, largely due to resource constraints. To fill this gap, organizations within the profession have championed the needs of the PTA education and practice community through an individual APTA membership structure. While these efforts can fulfill some of the needs of education programs, they are a mismatch that may not adequately address the needs of the academic enterprise.

In 2021, the ACAPT Board assembled a task force to evaluate its relationships with each stakeholder group within academic physical therapy to determine whether the organization was serving them well.  PTA programs were among those groups evaluated.  The task force recommended the Board conduct a deeper evaluation of this stakeholder group.  In May of 2022, the Board took that recommendation to form this task force, focused on evaluating whether ACAPT membership should be extended to PTA programs.  

Among the initial findings of the task force from 2021 was that a compelling reason for extending ACAPT membership to include PTA programs is the shared resource pool in both academic and clinical education. Given that many DPT educators teach in PTA programs it is imperative for overall excellence in academic physical therapy that opportunities for development exist for all educators. There is also a growing belief that the resources for clinical education are inadequate and increasingly challenged by program growth in DPT, PTA and post-graduate specialty training programs such as residencies and fellowships. To address these issues for the future there is a need to assess the capacity for clinical education placement as well as address curricular issues and variations across institutions.

Many challenges would need to be carefully considered in developing a new membership structure, including similarities and differences in needs of member institutions, resource differences across programs, and influence within a reconceived organization. ACAPT staffing and other resources would need to be adjusted to accommodate a significant increase in membership.

Forming an organization that represents all physical therapy education programs offers an opportunity to the physical therapy profession by addressing the needs of academic physical therapy. In doing so there are opportunities to re-envision curriculum across PT education, optimize resources, and address the needs of a more diverse workforce to meet the growing needs of a diverse society.
The work of this Task Force will be presented to the ACAPT Board and then on to ACAPT members for a vote should the recommendation be that PTA Programs be invited to join as members of ACAPT.


The task force will use a comprehensive, open process to evaluate whether there are mutual benefits to PT and PTA programs to have one organization, ACAPT, representing their interests and needs.


The task force will have two phases to its work:

  1. Conduct a needs-assessment and cost-benefit analysis
  • Investigate the core similarities and differences between PT and PTA programs
  • Engage stakeholders of academic physical therapy to obtain their experiences, insights and proposed solutions
  • Secure feedback through processes such as focus group meetings and surveys
  • Evaluate the research from other organizations that have a similar structure to explore organizational models within ACAPT for PTA Programs
  • Utilize the information and/or data gained to develop recommendations
  • Outline mutual benefits and/or challenges for one organization to represent both groups
  • Report to the Board on findings of Phase I to inform the need to progress to Phase II

   2. Outline a sustainable organizational/governance model

  • Propose a governing structure and resources to ensure sustainability
  • Recommend the eligibility factors for membership
  • Provide the suggested membership structure and related dues
  • Specify the suggested representation for each program, including rights and responsibilities


The task force will be made up of the following:

  • One Chair whose primary responsibilities shall be:
    • Meeting with the designated Board and staff liaison on a quarterly basis.
    • Providing reports during those meetings on the progress of the task force
    • Ensuring objectives of the task force are being met within the timeline identified.
  • 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.

  • At least 1/3 of the members of the task force will be ACAPT members
  • At least one person will be a member from the PTA Caucus or PTAE SIG
  • At least one person will be a PTA program chair
  •  At least one person will be a PT program chair
  • Total composition shall not exceed 7 people 


  • Chair: Kimberly Novak, PT, DPT, EdD - Academic Dean, Concorde Career College
  • Vice Chair: Justin Berry, PT, DPT, PhD - Northland Community and Technical College, PTA Program Director
  • Barbara Ostrowska, PT, DPT, PhD - Elgin Community College, Program Director,
  • Deanne Yates, PTA, PhD - Kansas City Kansas Community College, Program Coordinator, Professor
  • Drew Wilcox, PTA, MHA - Utah Tech University, Program Director, Department Chair
  • Jennifer Jewell, PT, DPT - Penn State, Teaching Professor and Academic Coordinator of Clinical Education
  • Tamala Marcin, PT, DPT, EdD, MBA - University of Saint Augustine Health Sciences, Associate Program Director and Assistant Faculty

Check out the Center for Excellence in Academic Physical Therapy


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