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:
- Be established within the APTA to foster excellence in academic physical therapy education;
- Represent all academic physical therapist education programs through a self-governing structure separate from the Education Section;
- Work vigorously and collaboratively with appropriate units of APTA to effect initiatives that support and extend the influence of academic physical therapy.
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:
- Establishing optimal standards and metrics of quality for physical therapy education programs;
- Interacting with other higher education organizations to define standards for professional doctoral education;
- Establishing consortia to promote common goals of various program communities;
- Establishing a formal relationship between academic administrators, academic faculty and clinical educators (faculty, clinical instructors, CCCEs) to facilitate a cohesive approach to education across academic and clinical settings; and
- Providing consultation and direction to APTA, CAPTE, FSBPT, WCPT and other professional organizations, governmental agencies and legislative bodies.
The organization proposed for approval was to be built on three major structural principles.
- First, unlike membership in any other component of APTA, the Academic Council was to be comprised of institutional members from academic programs accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). Each institution was to select one voting representative who was a member of APTA, and agree to pay annual dues to support the Academic Council’s governing process and strategic initiatives. Allowance for a “general membership”, to include didactic and clinical faculty and students associated with accredited PT programs, and the development of consortia representing special interests were to be future considerations.
- Second, the Academic Council was to be self-governing within APTA, with officers and a deliberative body, bylaws and an independent budget. Although conceived to be independent of the Education Section and its AASIG, active collaboration and complementary action remained important. The Academic Council was conceived to take independent responsibility for setting policy and promoting positions of interest to its membership – positions that would not necessarily be consistent with those of the APTA or its components. However, the leadership of the Academic Council would pledge active communication with the Education Division of APTA as it works to support the education community and the profession.
- Third, the Academic Council was to maintain a sole focus on physical therapist education. The needs of PTA educators would continue to be served by the Education Section and APTA, with efforts to assure that common interests are addressed through the types of collaboration of benefit to the profession and consumers it serves.
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.