The formation of the American Council of Academic Physical Therapy (ACAPT) followed a natural evolution within the academy to pursue its deep and abiding commitment to excellence and innovation in the profession. Key steps in the development of ACAPT
are captured below as a foundation for emergence of a new and sustaining culture of leadership in academic physical therapy.
Click here for A Brief History, synopsizing the vision that led
to the creation of ACAPT. You can view the blocks below that outline activity over certain years, or visit our oral history interviews to see videos of those who've played an instrumental
role in the creation and development of ACAPT.
Click here to read "A New Home for Academic Physical Therapy: ACAPT's First 7 Years"
by Susie Deusinger and Barb Sanders, published in JOPTE in 2017 (vol 31, No 3)
Historically, two previous formal organizations served the needs of leaders in physical therapy education to communicate and collaborate. The Council of School Directors, a group organized outside the walls of the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) initially served these needs. Then, the Education Section, one of the earliest sections of the APTA, was approved in 1945 as the seat of communication among all physical therapists interested in education within the profession. Special Interest Groups within the Education Section then evolved specifically to address the needs of educators serving physical therapist education as academic administrators, faculty, clinical educators and, after the emergence of the physical therapist assistant (PTA), those who were providing training to PTAs. As a forum for discussion of vexing administrative issues and a point of contact for sharing information critical to education leadership roles in physical therapy, the Academic Administrator’s Special Interest Group (AASIG) served for many years to unite the academic community. Clearly, AASIG was the precursor to ACAPT.
Over time, participants in the Education Section’s AASIG recognized the need to move beyond information sharing to formal advocacy, policy development and construction of more powerful partnerships with influential groups associated with the academic enterprise. This recognition led to discussion of changes in structure and culture that would serve those needs and manage the challenges of leadership in both long-standing and new institutions hosting physical therapy education. Although signs of interest in developing a structure outside the Education Section had been evident for several years, the catalyst for developing ACAPT came in 2007 at the Education Leadership Conference (ELC) with a passionate plea for action by several members of AASIG). As has occurred in other professions (e.g. medicine, pharmacy, dentistry and optometry) that host professional education at the doctoral level, members of AASIG embraced the need to provide stronger leadership in the academy and the potential for our collective influence to increase if supported by a different organization structure within APTA.
Upon this backdrop, members of AASIG immediately convened a task force to explore developing a new organization that would invigorate and transform academic leadership in physical therapy. The work of this group culminated in 2008 with a report recommending a Council of Physical Therapy Academic Programs that would:
Further, the task force recommended that AASIG support forwarding a motion to the APTA Board of Directors formally requesting approval of the new Council of Physical Therapy Academic Programs. The Academic Council, as it was to be called, was intended to fulfill the following mission and accompanying goals:
Promote excellence in academic physical therapy through communication, cooperation and collaboration among accredited programs, provide a structure for exercise of autonomy, accountability, and leadership in policy-making and decision-making that fosters the academic enterprise by:
The organization proposed for approval was to be built on three major structural principles.
In response to the task force recommendations, and after intense discussion and debate, 152 academic programs pledged their support “to develop a new organization of physical therapist academic programs, and… a constitution consistent with the proposed mission, goals and principles of organization.” A Council Organizing Committee was then appointed with broad-based membership from research intensive universities, private and public institutions, and members of three special interest groups of the Education Section – AASIG, the Clinical Education SIG and the PTA SIG. A preliminary report of the work of the organizing committee was presented at the 2009 Combined Sections meeting, with a final report presented at the 2009 ELC.
Since its approval, ACAPT has implemented its governance structure, developed communication mechanisms for the academic community (including a website featuring its unique brand), and crafted far-reaching strategic plans to achieve its stated goals. The transition from a Board of Director’s Council to a self-governing ACAPT has been nearly seamless, and leaders from the academic community have generously volunteered to serve the ACAPT Board of Directors and its task forces and panels. Consortia have begun to develop within ACAPT to assure inclusion of the multiple interests embedded in the academy. A major thrust to establish a Flexible Shared Vision for Clinical Education culminated in the Clinical Education Summit held in October 2014 to address the issues shared by all individuals involved in physical therapy education.
Consistent with ACAPT’s collaborative philosophy, APTA, the Education Section and ACAPT are united in the intent(s) to:
Academic physical therapy will continue to have a powerful influence on teaching, learning, research and practice, through its unique structure, its influential leadership and its collaboration with the multiple institutions, associations and individuals that drive excellence in the academy.
A Steering Committee comprised of members of the boards from ACAPT, the Education Section, and APTA, to collaboratively work to bring together all relevant stakeholders having an interest in promoting excellence in physical therapist education. ACAPT is excited about our participation in this new group and look forward to providing updates on the progress of our collaborative work.
There are three Strategic Initiative Panels working on elements related to the Clinical Education Summit. In response to our conversations and recommendations at the Summit, these Panels are working on student readiness for clinical education, integrated clinical experiences, and the need for common terminology used in all levels of clinical education.
New admissions procedures (traffic rules) were approved by the
membership to help clarify students’ obligations and opportunities in
selection of best fit for professional education and continue to
participate in the PTCAS advisory group.
bring to completion the study that tests engagement as an element of
excellence, analyze and publish its results and develop a menu of
options to use benchmarks in the pursuit of excellence.
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The American Council of Academic Physical Therapy (ACAPT) is a component of the American Physical Therapy Association
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