Reach for the Stars: Facilitating Faculty Research


Provide guidance to chairs for the development of research among tenure and non-tenure track faculty.

Methods and/or Description of Project

It has become more important than ever to facilitate the growth of successful new academic faculty. A perfect storm of the retirement of a generation of faculty is meeting a severe shortage of faculty for a surplus of physical therapy educational programs. New academic faculty are slowly coming on board but they need mentors. On the other side of the coin, substantiating research in physical therapy is more important than ever as physical therapists are becoming more independent and working alongside the other medical professionals.
The Consortium of Research Intensive Programs in Physical Therapy will sponsor 3 outstanding, experienced chairs to speak on the process of facilitating the overall success of faculty, with particular emphasis on the development of the research dimension. Dr. Richard Segal, PT, PhD, Chair of the Department of Health Professions at the Medical University of South Carolina, will address the challenge of jump-starting the research focus and support of new faculty. Dr. Stuart Binder-Macleod, PhD, PT, Associate Deputy Provost for Clinical and Translational Research at the University of Delaware, will pick up the thread, encouraging the momentum that was created in the initial research endeavors as the faculty reach for tenure status. Finally, Dr. Jules DeWald, PT, PhD, Chair of the Department of Physical Therapy and Human Movement Sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine will address the task of developing scholarly activity for faculty not on the tenure track.
According to the 2014-2015 fact sheet on Physical Therapist Education Programs*, 25.3% of Physical Therapy core faculty are on tenure track. Dr. Snyder-Mackler emphasized in her 2015 McMillan lecture the importance of establishing professional strategic alliances and the role of mentors. "Succeeding in research is not just collecting and interpreting data and writing papers. You can do that, do it well, and fail spectacularly. To survive in a ferociously competitive culture depends on strategic alliances. To advance, a young scientist needs to get included on significant projects, preferably with an established mentor." Funded research has always been an emphasis of Research 1 and 2 institutions. Dr. Snyder-Mackler emphasized that these institutions must "step up their efforts" to provide "rigorous clinical and scientific training, hire and support young researchers, and model clinician scientist practice." But we cannot simply recruit and hire a new doctorally trained person and expect that they will succeed without any guidance. It is impossible to produce meaningful research in an environment where there is no collegial support or infrastructure, or the teaching expectations are inordinately high. Dr. Segal will address available granting options, startup funds, etc. He has been a mentor for the past 12 years for intensive grant writing workshops with numerous mentees successfully attaining extramural funding following the workshop.
The development of well-rounded faculty that will not only successfully meet the requirements of tenure, but have momentum to continue a research agenda is challenging.
About 22% of core Physical Therapy faculty* are tenured. National academic surveys show that tenured faculty generally publish more, serve on academic committees and frequently spend more time teaching than conducting research. We all know that teaching and research go hand in hand but sometimes tomorrow’s class feels more pressing than writing grant applications, teaching PhD students, and writing the results of the research. Dr. Binder-Macleod will address these issues and present ways that can help the faculty stay focused on their research. Tenure gives the faculty the chance to continue doing what they love and provides new opportunities through the network of colleagues and contacts that was developed during the tenure-track years.
Finally, it is important that we develop a community of researchers in our Physical Therapy educational programs, not only among the tenure track faculty but those not on a tenure track. About 49% of core Physical Therapy faculty* are not eligible for tenure. All faculty are capable of doing research, though some may need more guidance to travel along the path of scholarship. The issues and motivations are different. Many faculty are interested but have little knowledge of how to fund research, collaborate with colleagues, analyze data and disseminate results. Dr. DeWald will discuss some of the issues that particularly impact the non-tenure track faculty and help to wrap up this year’s session of research in Physical Therapy academia.


This session will provide resources and ideas to help physical therapy program chairs to develop the next generation of scientists and clinician researchers.

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

According to the CAPTE Evaluative Criteria for PT Programs, “Each core faculty member has a well-defined, ongoing scholarly agenda that reflects contributions…” This education session is designed to facilitate the pursuit of excellence in Physical Therapy Education and Scholarship as the faculty reach for the stars.


*CAPTE 2014-15 Physical Therapist Education Programs Fact Sheets

Course Objectives

1. Outline available granting options and identify appropriate startup funds to facilitate the research of new Physical Therapy faculty.
2. Identify practical ways in which Physical Therapy faculty can maintain their focus on research during their tenure application and beyond.
3. Recognize the barriers that prevent non-tenure track Physical Therapy faculty from pursuing research.
4. Provide direction toward resources that may assist all Physical Therapy faculty in performing and disseminating research.

Instructional Methods

Lecture and Discussion

Tentative Outline/Schedule

30 minutes: New faculty focus and support
30 minutes: Faculty tenure and maintaining research momentum
30 minutes: Non-tenure track faculty research challenges

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  • Control #: 2527480
  • Type: Educational Session
  • Event/Year: ELC2016
  • Authors: Dr. Mary Shall, Richard Segal, Stuart Binder-Macleod, Julius Dewald
  • Keywords:

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