Implementing the “Core Competencies of Entry-Level Practice in Acute Care Physical Therapy” for Excellence in Physical Therapist Clinical Education


Assessment of student performance within the clinical environment is an important aspect of clinical education, but one in which many Clinical Instructors (CIs) feel uncomfortable. When investigating the rationale for clinical instructors taking the Credentialed Clinical Instructor Program one main theme that was observed was the desire to become more effective in assessment of student performance. While utilizing the Clinical Performance Instrument for student assessment, the CI needs to establish entry level standards in order to effectively determine student performance.

In acute care clinical education, a common definition of entry-level expectation can be difficult since no uniform standard for entry level performance expectations existed specific to this setting. This leaves the CIs at each facility to determine an appropriate metric. In December of 2015, The Academy of Acute Care Physical Therapy published a guiding document to assist stakeholders in defining entry-level practice in acute care, The Core Competencies of Entry-Level Practice in Acute Care Physical Therapy (CCELPACPT). This document assists with communication between clinical education sites and academic institutions to ensure entry-level is defined and reached by students in the acute care environment.

This presentation will equip and support CIs, Clinical Coordinators of Clinical Education (CCCE) and Directors of Clinical Education (DCE) in integrating the “Core Competencies of Entry-Level Practice in Acute Care Physical Therapy” into Physical Therapist acute care clinical education. This will enhance communication in acute care clinical partnerships in order to prepare students for entry-level practice in acute care.

Methods and/or Description of Project

The CCELPACPT defines the knowledge, skills, and behaviors specific to acute care that all students should possess upon graduation. Specifically addressed are expected competencies in the domains of clinical decision-making, communication, safety, patient management and discharge planning. The identified entry-level skills defined in this document can be used by CIs, CCCEs, and DCEs to frame entry level expectations for students, more uniformly assess student performance and describe student’s performance in light of entry level practice expectations.

This educational session will include a brief description of the rigorous process that was utilized in development of the CCELPACPT and an overview of the 5 competency domains. Members of the expert panel of educators and clinicians who developed the document will share examples of how the document has been and could be used to promote student assessment in traditional and collaborative clinical education models. Participants will be led through a self-inventory exercise to compare their current clinical curricula and expectations to the competencies defined in the document.


Preliminary use of this document within acute hospital clinical programs as well as one Academic institution will be presented to inform future use for all participants.

Conclusions/Relevance to the conference theme: The Pursuit of Excellence in Physical Therapy Education

Optimal student assessment can often be limited by varying interpretations of the Clinical Performance Instrument based on variability in clinical settings, experiences and opinions rather than objective, setting specific skills and behaviors. Utilization of the CCELPACPT will help to uniformly define entry- level practice, allowing CIs to better assess student learning. DCEs can use the CCELPACPT to prepare student for clinical expectations, and to help identify areas in need of additional support for students who are having challenges in the clinic. In addition, the document serves to increase effective communication between clinical partners to assist in students achieving the necessary outcomes of entry-level practice in acute acre upon graduation.


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Course Objectives

1. Participants will be able to discuss the five domains of competency that define acute care entry-level practice and provide examples of skills, knowledge, and behaviors from each domain.
2. Participants will be able to create physical therapist student clinical education objectives that correspond with identified acute care competencies in the CCELCACPT.
3. Participants will be able to integrate the CCELCACPT with the CPI in their own programs to evaluate and provide feedback on student performance in acute care clinical settings.

Instructional Methods

Lecture, Panel Discussion, Self-Assessment, Case-based learning, Small/large group discussion

Tentative Outline/Schedule

I. Introduction (20 min)
a. Development of document
b. Overview of domains

II. Utilization of the CCELPACPT (50 min)
a. Clinical Facility use
i. Look at current expectations
ii. Using document to ground CPI
b. Academic Clinical Education use
i. Setting student expectations
ii. Use with Challenging students

III. Questions (20 min)

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  • Control #: 2519223
  • Type: Educational Session
  • Event/Year: ELC2016
  • Authors: Kristin Greenwood, Dr. Babette Sanders, Eric Stewart, Dr. Melissa Hake, Erin Milton, Lauren Mitchell
  • Keywords:

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