Growing Community Partnerships: How to Build and Sustain a Clinical Practice Collaboration


The University of Vermont (UVM) DPT program identified a critical need for a faculty clinical practice. Space was unavailable on campus so the DPT faculty began to explore alternatives to make a DPT faculty practice a reality. The UVM DPT program created an innovative public and private partnership with a local outpatient physical therapy practice that allowed for the mutual benefit of faculty practice, clinical education, and avenues for clinician professional development. This model promotes the principles called for in the 2014 Clinical Education Summit to create a common culture of teaching and learning based on strong partnerships with shared responsibility for preparing students. This presentation will highlight the opportunities created by an academic clinical practice and demonstrate an innovative and collaborative practice model to bridge clinical and academic needs.


The rural state of Vermont provides few avenues for faculty to participate in clinical practice and has limited sites for clinical education. The UVM DPT program examined the challenge of faculty clinical practice and created a community partnership through an academic contract, which allows for faculty to practice in a private outpatient clinic. This agreement includes a commitment for the practice to take a high volume of students for ICE and full time clinical experiences, and encourages clinicians to become adjunct faculty and teach in components of lab and lecture classes. The partnership provides a flexible avenue for faculty to provide patient care services, creates opportunities for faculty to participate in ICE and other clinical education activities; and provides a chance for faculty research, and to mentor clinicians and students in research. This innovative collaboration allows faculty to practice as clinical scientists and builds skills for clinicians and students to become clinical leaders.


The partnership has just celebrated the first year of collaboration and the feedback from the faculty, students, patients, and clinicians is extremely positive. The UVM DPT faculty and students, and our clinical partner, have developed an appreciation of the benefits and challenges of an academic clinical partnership. The analysis of student, faculty, clinician, and patient outcomes will be provided. Outcomes of patient satisfaction, productivity, leadership, and student learning will be shared, and themes from clinician feedback will be examined. The consistency, familiarity and collaborative efforts in education provide demonstrable benefits to student learning. The practice collaboration has resulted in the intersection of faculty and clinicians in the classroom, lab, ICE, and full time clinical education experiences. This cooperative academic and clinical partnership is a paradigm shift which engages faculty, students, and clinicians with mutual goals of creating excellence in patient care and student learning. Faculty are able to participate in clinical practice and support learning opportunities in clinical education and teaching, while remaining connected to the academic curriculum. The benefits of the faculty practice far exceed expectations of the initial concept, and has become a much more integrated and valued component of the student experience than originally envisioned. This established model with a private practice has been so successful it is now being applied to an academic medical center and has promise to provide similar opportunities.

Conclusions/Relevance to the conference theme:

This presentation provides an example of how to enhance team well being through physical therapy education by creating an environment to advance faculty, students, and clinicians as clinical leaders. The community partnership meets the challenge to promote excellence in physical therapist education by the enhancing the professional development of students, clinicians, and faculty. The academic faculty practice creates a team alliance among the students, clinicians, and faculty. The relevance of matching clinical practice interests with academic program needs highlights the possibilities for working together in local communities and creating true educational partners. This presentation examines a pathway to create a strong team culture of teaching and learning through a public university and private practice venture.

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  • Control #: 26861
  • Type: Platform Presentation - Non-Research Type
  • Event/Year: ELC2020
  • Authors: Paula Smith
  • Keywords:

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