Perspective for change: establishing the need for clinical instructor competencies in physical therapist education

Bilyeu, Catherine; Sharp, Amanda; Myers, Katherine

Current issue: Clinical instructors (CIs) are instrumental in the development of competent, entry-level physical therapist graduates. Despite this key role, CIs are often deficient in formal knowledge of the learning sciences that influence quality of clinical education experiences. Clinical education stakeholders also lack a standardized and consistent approach to defining and assessing clinical teaching skills, resulting in an inability to provide adequate feedback and growth opportunities for CIs.

Perspective: A gap exists between qualitative descriptions of clinical teaching behaviors and the ability to objectively assess those behaviors in CIs. Grounded in the Model of Excellence in Physical Therapist Education, this perspective calls attention to and proposes steps toward excellence in clinical education. Defining essential competencies of clinical teaching in the physical therapy profession requires a systematic approach. The competencies established through this approach then become the foundation for creating a meaningful assessment tool of CI performance.

Implications for clinical education: Developing educator competencies and a related assessment tool for CIs allows for the provision of meaningful feedback, the creation of targeted professional development programs, and opportunities for recognition of clinical teaching excellence. Without effective CIs, new graduates may be inadequately equipped to contribute to the profession’s vision of educational excellence.


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Also Published In

The Journal of Clinical Education in Physical Therapy

More About This Work

Published Here
August 29, 2022


clinical education, competency, assessment, education, professional competence, performance appraisal