The DCE Position: A Life’s Aspiration or a Life Sentence
Purpose/Hypothesis: .Objectives: To examine (1) the pathway to the position of DCE/ACCE, (2) the DCEs’ perceptions of how the position is valued, and (3) to identify if the position is a career goal. The DCE position, possesses an added layer, to the typical academician responsibilities/expectations of teaching, scholarship and service. Many reasons attract to this position vs many reasons how others feel "stuck". Tremendous variability in the academic rank, promotion ability and tenure options. Candidates become the DCE through multiple pathways which may impact retention and career goals (life aspiration or sentence). Disparity exists in this position regarding academic rank, promotion and tenure. Purpose: To examine (1) the pathway to the position of DCE/ACCE, (2) the DCEs’ perceptions of how the position is valued, and (3) to identify if the position is a career goal. Hypothesis: DCE position is sought after by some, "stuck" in by others. Number of Subjects: 191 anonymous survey responders and 18 interviews were performed Materials and Methods: A list of DCEs was obtained from the APTA once IRB approved. Survey questionnaire (15 minutes to complete) was sent via email through survey monkey to all DCEs and/or ACCEs (191 anonymous responders). At the end of the survey questionnaire, a voluntary invitation invited participants to participate in an interview(lasting 1-1.5 hours) recorded/conducted via skype, phone and/or in person. 18 interviews performed representing the 8 regions nationally as delineated by CAPTE. Results: The respondents were: 83% female, 17% male Age ranging as follows: 36%, 45-54 yrs old, 30%, 55-64 and the remainder between 25-44 with 4% being 65 +. 45% Public vs 55% Private Institutions. Rank and promotion ability varied: 36% of the DCE’s are Assistant Professors, 20% Associate Professors with 5% achieving full Professor. Positions either tenure, non-tenure and/or non-promotional lines (lecturer, administrative line). (82%) a 12-month vs 9-month AY, 43% satisfied with salary, 40% dissatisfied, 17% salary not an issue. Recruitment, several pathways, a large % internal candidates (mentorship by a dept. chair, an adjunct, graduate of program). For many, a way to further academic career, others an entry into academics. During interview , candidates perceived interviewers valued: faculty fit (31%), familiarity with clinical sites and/or CCCE’s (15%),academic rank (14%) and vision for the profession. (13%) Interviewees valued 4 areas, almost equally: Connecting skills- 20% Faculty fit -17% Familiarity with clinical instructors-19% Vision for the position – 25% On a typical day, DCE’s felt stress performing their responsibilities, 16% constantly,32% very often. How long one intend to be the DCE, 28% was a career choice,15% 0-5 years, 15% 6-10, 16% never thought about it. The top 3 reasons to stay in this position: Work is fulfilling- 27% Provides flexibility – 26% Love my work/career option- 24% Conclusions: Most DCEs echo the need for change to improve the DCE position as a career aspiration and/or option, while raising awareness for the need to have others recognize and better understand the complexity of the DCE portfolio. Along with these insights is the self-censure of not acting as their own “best public relations marketers. An “alternate vision” for this position would reinforce the importance of the DCE and acknowledge the creative, skilled and academic nature of the role. A vision for recognition is presented that more equitably aligns the teaching, scholarship and service roles of the DCE (SALZMAN). Few saw the DCE as a Life Sentence, and those who did were close to retirement. Break down: Life aspiration stream: 25% Director of Department mentored to step into role: 25% Working to retirement life sentence: 25% Academic Admin (program chairperson; dean of school containing PT; Dean if College): 25% Clinical Relevance: The pathway to the DCE depicted several avenues, while other faculty roles have a more predictable pathway. The DCE role is challenging (a combination of administration, teaching and even being versed in legal matters), with a higher turnover rate than faculty. DCE’s need to facilitate and be part of the change to have this position be better understood and valued. Our findings present a foundation for future studies to further elevate the DCE position via facts/evidence. Our recommendations would be to explore the impact of technology (which would decrease travel and reduce administration), consider advanced terminal degrees as a prerequisite (in areas such as: PhD in Corporate Psychology, Business of Healthcare or a MBA) and introduce into the curriculum the DCE position as a career choice/aspiration.