American Physical Therapy Association-Credentialed Clinical Instructors: A Survey regarding Source of Motivation for Pursuing Credentialing

Article excerpt

Background and Purpose. The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) promotes clinical education credentialing for clinical instructors (CIs) through the Clinical Instructor Education and Credentialing Program (CIECP). APTA reports that since the program's inception, 34,657 CIs have received Basic CIECP credentialing status, which represents less than half of APTA's membership, and an unknown percentage of non-APTA members. To date, it is not known what motivates CIs to pursue credentialing, or if the motivation is more intrinsically or extrinsically driven. The purpose of this study was to determine the source of the motivational factors for physical therapist CIs who have pursued credentialing by APTA.

Subjects. The subjects included 2,209 APTA-credentialed physical therapist CIs distributed throughout the United States.

Methods. A pilot form of the survey was used to gain feedback from local credentialed CIs to establish face and content validity. Credentialed CIs were sent an email link to a 3-section survey. The first section consisted of demographic questions, while the second section consisted of 7-point Likert scale questions pertaining to intrinsic versus extrinsic motivation for becoming credentialed. Finally, the last section was forced choice questions also pertaining to motivational factors. Repeated measures ANOVAs were used to compare all responses in section 2 between the intrinsic and extrinsic oriented questions, with paired t tests to determine specific question response differences.

Results. Analysis revealed significant differences favoring intrinsic motivation. The 2 most significant intrinsic factors included contribution to the education of student physical therapists (SPTs) and professional development. Within the open-ended section of the survey more than 50% of the respondents reported intrinsic motivational reasons for becoming APTA Basic CIECP CIs.

Discussion and Conclusion. Results from both the close-ended and forced-choice questions demonstrate that the driving forces behind a CI obtaining APTA credentialing are intrinsic. The primary intrinsic motivators were professional development and personal satisfaction of helping educate students.

Key Words: Clinical education, Physical therapist, Clinical instructor, Credentialing.


Clinical experience is an important educational component in many professional health care programs. It allows students to apply and practice techniques learned in lecture and laboratory and receive feedback on their performance from clinical instructors (CIs) who are practicing professionals in their respective professions. This model for education is used in many professions including physical therapy, nursing, and athletic training. In an effort to improve the clinical education component, the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA)1 developed the Clinical Instructor Education and Credentialing Program (CIECP) for CIs, which has been offered since 1996.2,3 According K. Stoneley, MPA, associate director of APTAs Academic/ Clinical Education Affairs Department, approximately 35,000 CIs have received basic credentialing status since inception of the program (electronic correspondence, September 2011). This number does not reflect CIs credentialed through other organizations. For example, the Texas Consortium helped to develop and revise a clinical skills assessment tool for which they offer CI training.4 In a sample of CIs, Morren et al5 found that 45% were APTA members, and 31% were credentialed CIs, thus validating that more than half of the CIs across the US were potentially not included. Recker- Hughes6 and colleagues found similar numbers in a later study.

Research with respect to the APTA Basic CIECP has not previously included an examination of what the motivational factors are for CIs to pursue credentialing. Understanding the motivation for physical therapist CIs to become credentialed may provide insight into underlying reasons for pursuing continuing education. …