Core Faculty in Entry-Level Doctor of Physical Therapy Clinical Education: Exploring Titles & Characteristics


This study assessed how entry-level Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) Programs title core faculty with Clinical Education (CE) responsibilities and if differences between ACCEs & DCEs exist.Historically, faculty members responsible for CE held the title Academic Coordinator of Clinical Education (ACCE). The title Director of Clinical Education (DCE) was introduced to better reflect the skill and knowledge. Both titles had been used interchangeably, but recent literature has utilized DCE without mention of ACCE. The most recent Standards and Required Elements for Accreditation of PT Education Programs (CAPTE 2016, Element 4I) has adopted the generic term Clinical Education Coordinator while granting institutions the ability to use any “appropriate title“.


An electronic survey was sent to core academic faculty responsible for CE in entry-level DPT curriculum. Exclusion criteria were other disciplines and/or did not have CE responsibilities. Any survey that was not completed at least 75% was excluded.Descriptive statistics was used for incidences in job title, highest professional degree, academic rank & years of CE experience. Cross-tabulation analysis with Pearsons Chi-square or Likelihood ratios (p<0.05, two-tailed) were used to assess statistical significance depending upon whether parametric criteria were met.


Of the total eligible survey responses (n=69),46% identified as ACCEs compared to 54% DCEs.There was no statistical significance between ACCE & DCE employment at public or private institutions, educational degree & years of experience in current position.The academic degree most commonly held was transitional DPT (t-DPT) degrees (ACCE=14,DCE=19) followed by MS degrees for ACCEs (9) and terminal degrees for DCEs(7). A significant association was noted between title and academic rank such that DCEs tended to carry slightly less advanced ranks (Assistant Professor) compared to ACCEs who were skewed towards higher rankings (Associate to Full Professor). Qualitative analysis of open ended questions revealed a hierarchical distinction between the two CE appointments, suggesting that the DCE position entailed more administrative duties than the ACCE. In addition, 6 respondents denoted a bi-level DCE appointment distinguished by the use of an “Assistant” level and “Associate” level.

Conclusions/Relevance to the conference theme: Shaping the Future of Physical Therapy Education

Our survey reflects approximately 25% of the total estimated number of ACCE & DCE positions in the continental US at the time of data collection (CAPTE, 2014). Demographics are somewhat comparable between ACCEs & DCEs.These findings suggest that no substantial differences are apparent between job titles,which may result in increased confusion regarding the roles and responsibilities of these positions. Despite this, qualitative feedback suggests that perceptions in the disparity of job roles exist. Further evaluation of the roles & responsibilities is needed to enhance professional identity development and performance assessment for clinical educators.


Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education website. Standard and required Elements for Accreditation of Physical therapist Education Programs.2016; Accessed March 23, 2015.

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  • Control #: 2262097
  • Type: Posters
  • Event/Year: ELC2015
  • Authors: Laura Hagan, Adrienne McAuley, June Kume
  • Keywords:

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