Moving from Clinician to Educator: Perceptions of Novice Educators
Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) Programs combine experienced clinicians and educators to provide optimal student instruction. Both clinicians and academicians are necessary for preparing students to become autonomous physical therapists in the current healthcare environment. While clinicians are invaluable to the DPT faculty mix, the transition from clinician to academician can be a challenging one. Not only do novice clinical faculty need education in pedagogy, curriculum design, scholarly agenda, and item writing, but institutional hurdles such as navigating the academic hierarchy structure, and understanding requirements and procedures for promotion pose unique challenges. The purpose of this study was to identify the mentorship and types of opportunities that academic institutions provided to their novice faculty (NF) (² four years teaching experience), as well as the perceived effectiveness of these opportunities during the transition from clinician to educator. This survey information can be used to help NF advocate for the support they need to become effective educators within their academic communities
A 22 question, survey was developed and administered to NF through the APTA Educators listserv. Additionally, academy members were asked to identify and forward the survey to other NF.
Surveys (n=106) were analyzed to identify the most effective faculty development methods. Percentages were based on the number of responses received for any individual question. The NF respondents indicated: teaching < one year (29.23%), 1-2 years (38.7%), and 3-4 years (31.3%). Additionally, only 61.3% reported attending a faculty development course, while 73.1% reported faculty mentorship at their institution. The surveys revealed all NF reported mentoring (90%) and development workshops (58%) were beneficial. An open-ended question revealed > 50% NF indicated that more education in: item writing and course development, as well as innovative teaching and alternate assessment methods are necessary for developing competency.
Conclusions/Relevance to the conference theme:
NF identified that provision of mentorship and faculty development course attendance were important elements in their transition from clinician to educator. However, these opportunities may not be required, or even recommended by their institutions. Clinicians making a move into academia must proactively seek faculty development workshops and faculty mentorship. To best orient NF and facilitate an effective transition from clinician to educator, all DPT programs should establish formalized faculty development programs providing ongoing mentorship and methodically addressing challenges such as curriculum design, item writing, assessment, and navigation of institutional advancement policies. The process of faculty development should be ongoing, allowing NF continual growth in a field where students and healthcare needs are rapidly changing. NF must be supplied with the tools they need to adapt, changing the way courses are developed and delivered to ensure optimal professional outcomes.