UNE associate provost discusses future of physical therapist education at national summit

Mike Sheldon, PT, Ph.D., associate provost for Academic Affairs at the University of New England, recently spoke at a virtual summit on disruptive innovations in physical therapist (PT) education sponsored by the Physical Therapy Learning Institute (PTLI).

This year’s summit, “Reimagining Physical Therapist Education,” was limited to 100 invited attendees representing a wide variety of PT education programs from across the country. The purpose of the summit was to “stimulate deep conversation and foster action among the invited attendees to address both anticipated and unexpected opportunities for change in physical therapist education,” according to the gathering’s program.

Sheldon spoke in support of the reduction of unwarranted variations in PT education. He explained that such variations can be present in admissions, for example, through a lack of standardized prerequisite courses or hours of clinical observation required for admissions.

Variations can also be present through a lack standardized preparation for students who enter full-time clinical practica; and they can also include a lack of consistent outcomes, competencies, and entrustable professional activities (EPAs) for graduates of PT education programs as they enter practice.

“I believe we need to focus our efforts on developing more standardized outcomes, competencies, and EPAs,” said Sheldon. “The curriculum content, learning activities, and sequencing of activities will follow, but you need this end-game clearly articulated from the start.”

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