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PT Student Essay Contest

Physical Therapy Student Essay Contest

Each year, ACAPT's Consortium for Humanities, Ethics & Professionalism (CHEP) joins the Journal of Humanities in Rehabilitation (JHRto sponsor a judged writing competition designed to encourage deep thinking by physical therapy students about the role and value of humanities, ethics and professionalism in academic training and professional life.  

The annual CHEP/JHR Physical Therapy Student Essay Contest offers a creative opportunity to ignite critical reflection in PT students across the nation about ways in which approaching patient care in a holistic manner improves patient outcomes.

Read more about the 20232022 and 2021 recipients.

In 2023, we received 41 submissions from 29 physical therapy programs.  Winners will be announced soon.  You can read about the essay contest below.

2022-2023 student essay prompt

The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) recently added the core value of inclusion to our profession’s Core Values, as efforts have increased to address diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in clinical and educational environments. However, people with disabilities often remain in the margins during DEI-related discussions, and little consideration is given to the importance of the representation of individuals living with disability in our educational programs and professional clinical settings. 

Given our professional training and overdue efforts to address DEI across professional settings:

  • What perspectives and/or key strategies could shape our profession to be more inclusive of individuals with disabilities?
  • What can be done, both collectively and individually, to promote a culture of inclusion, belonging and respect for persons living with disabilities within the field of physical therapy?
  • Why do you believe these efforts will be effective?
  • How will this effort pay off with improved patient care?
  • Consider using a personal or observed experience that illustrates your point, in a clinical or non-clinical setting.
  • You may also use envisioned experiences, especially if you have had less clinical experience. 

For more information on how to write a personal narrative, check out the Personal Narratives section of the Submission Guidelines page. Please note that the word length for this essay contest (800 word limit) is different from the word length for our general narrative essay submissions.

Prize description

  • The winner of the Physical Therapy Student Essay Contest receives a $250 award from ACAPT.

  • Additionally, the contest winner and two finalists will have their personal narratives published in a future issue of JHR.

Eligibility and required materials

All students currently enrolled in a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) or Physical Therapy Assistant (PTA) program are eligible to apply.

Submissions must include an original, unpublished personal narrative as well as a short (3-4 sentence) personal bio that includes the student’s current academic institution.


  • The submission deadline is typically in January each year. Essay prompts are provided in the fall.

  • The winner and two finalists will be announced in spring 2023.


Submissions are reviewed by a selection panel comprised of our guest judge(s), JHR Editorial Board and CHEP steering committee. Submissions are assessed upon their engagement with the prompt, narrative structure, and attention to language.

Learn more about ACAPT's Consortium for Humanities, Ethics & Professionalism (CHEP).  Individual members of ACAPT member institutions can join CHEP for free.

CHEP advocates for the importance of the humanities, ethics, and professionalism in physical therapy education practice because excellent clinical practice requires the ability to make meaningful connections with patients and to make decisions in unclear or vulnerable circumstances. To that aim, the consortium provides a forum for discussion of the art of physical therapy and the lived experience of patients, thereby creating a platform for sharing resources that focus on how to teach humanities, ethics, and professionalism in physical therapy education.

Check out the Center for Excellence in Academic Physical Therapy


ACAPT welcomes ideas & solutions to help meet the needs of DPT programs. Submit your suggestions for continuing education, professional development, guidelines, tools, best practices and more.

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