Professional development is the phrase that many professions use to describe the continuous learning that professionals may need to maintain, enhance, or broaden their competence. Professional development in physical therapy is essential to update physical therapists (PTs) and physical therapist assistants (PTAs) regarding new developments in knowledge, skills, and technology to ensure continued competence within the profession. Clinical faculty members provide a vital role in the education of physical therapy students. This role necessitates that faculty development plans include input from student evaluations that reflect how well the program prepared them for clinical practice. This study completed a survey investigation to identify the professional development needs of 50 clinical faculty and 25 graduates affiliated with an established physical therapist assistant program. It also examined the professional development needs of clinical faculty as identified through PTA students' evaluation at the time of graduation and through the programs' overall curriculum evaluation. Graduates reported that overall they were well prepared as entry level PTAs and rated the effectiveness of the program favorably. Curriculum content areas identified by graduates as needing improvement included wound care and leadership skills. Clinical instructors concurred with the graduates by identifying wound care as an area of need for their professional development. Recommendations from this study would be to: perform similar studies encompassing more than one program, followup with future curriculum evaluations to verified if the identified weaknesses were addressed through curriculum changes, and for allied health programs to offer education methodology courses for their clinical instructors.
Definition of Key Words:
Academic Coordinator for Clinical Education (ACCE): The core faculty member who has responsibility in the program for coordinating the clinical education portion of the curriculum.
Center Coordinator of Clinical Education (CCCE): The individual at each clinical education site who coordinates and arranges the clinical education of the physical therapy student and who communicates with the ACCE and faculty at the educational institution.
Clinical Instructor (CI): A person who is responsible for the direct instruction and supervision of the student in the clinical education setting.
Clinical Education: The portion of the student's professional education, which involves practice and application of classroom knowledge and skills to on-the-job responsibilities.
Professional Development: The continuous learning that professionals may need to pursue throughout their careers in order to maintain, enhance, and broaden their professional competence.
Professional development is defined as the continuous learning that professionals need to pursue throughout their careers to maintain, enhance, and broaden their professional competence (Physiotherapy, 1994). It is the phrase that many professions use for continuing education and development, which in
college and university settings, may be called faculty development (Mathis, 1982; Millis, 1990). Professional development activities may encompass research and teaching activities, personal health and growth, and the management of a professional career over time (Deusinger, Cornbleet, & Stith, 1991).
Professional development in the physical therapy profession is important to update physical therapists (PTs) and physical therapist assistants (PTAs) in new developments in terms of knowledge, skills, and technology to ensure continuing competence within the profession. Traditionally, professional development has been viewed as short training courses; however, professional development can be formal or informal. Physical therapy clinicians are often recruited to serve as clinical instructors for physical therapy education programs, with many clinicians assuming this role within one to two years of entry into the profession (Schuster, & Wheeler, 1990; Butterfield, Strube, Deusinger, & Gillespie, 1998). …