Value in Kind: Creating a Leadership Win


The degree of interdependence between the clinic and academic program is greater than often realized. National conversations have highlighted the need for academic and clinical entities to work collaboratively on solutions to both individual and shared problems. Aside from providing clinical education to students, universities traditionally look to the clinic for both learning opportunities that enrich student professional growth, as well as for teaching assistance in the classroom laboratory. Clinical facilities, on the other hand, frequently look to academic programs to provide clinical updates on best practices, to provide opportunities for professional development, and to feed future hires. More so now than ever before, organizations are cognizant of costs relative to actualized benefits of undertaken initiatives and must determine how to efficiently and effectively develop master clinicians and professional leaders. Cultivating needed skills can, at times, be cumbersome, expensive, and inconvenient. However, creative approaches that do not involve the physical exchange of “dollars” can be jointly implemented through academic-clinical partnerships that not only promote leadership development but also fulfill secondary objectives for each organization. This presentation will highlight approaches to develop students and clinicians as future leaders using models wherein non-monetary services are exchanged in such a fashion that the value of the service/experience far exceeds any price-tag that might accompany it.

Methods and/or Description of Project

With an eye toward developing strong leaders and advocates, two different clinics partnered with an academic institution to identify opportunities for growth in these domains. One project focused primarily on the development of student leaders within the clinical context and the other project focused primarily on the development of clinician leaders. Both projects were structured in such a way that multiple “wins” could be realized by the university and the clinical facility. In the first model, under the direction of a licensed therapist, student physical therapists provided inter-professional education and structured competency checks on body mechanics, lifting, and transfers to nursing staff on all shifts within a large medical center. While the primary intention was to provide a vehicle for student leadership and advocacy development, the services (cost-savings) provided by the students were effectively used as a substitute for the “cash payment” required by the facility for the delivery of quality clinical education to students. The other model served to develop clinician leaders capable of providing ongoing service of the highest degree and contributing to system-wide efforts to promote Triple Aim initiatives. To this end, the university provided direct and targeted continuing education for clinicians as well as mentorship on educational pedagogy to enhance classroom teaching skills. Clinicians practiced and refined their teaching and leadership skills through participation in classroom teaching, clinical instruction, and training initiatives for existing staff and new hires. Additionally, university resources were utilized to assist clinicians in progressing their scholarly products to national audiences. In neither model was an exchange of “dollars” provided, as the value to both the clinical facility and academic institution was seen as essential to their respective missions.


The varied activities undertaken demonstrate the diversity of strategic initiatives that can be implemented to maximize the outcomes of greatest importance to different organizations. In one model, student leaders were developed by refining teaching skills, inter-professional communication, awareness of inter-professional roles, and effectiveness as professional advocates. In the other model, clinician leaders were developed by enhancing effectiveness within teaching, clinical, and scholarly domains. In both situations, the inherent value brought by the activity was accepted in lieu of the physical exchange of dollars. Academic educators, along with administrative directors from two different health systems, will highlight the value of these partnerships through provision of a cost:benefit analysis of the undertaken initiatives. Outcomes specific to clinical education, effort and productivity, budgets, program development, scholarly products, staff retention, and student development will also be addressed.

Conclusions/Relevance to the conference theme: Through the Looking Glass: Transforming Physical Therapy Education

The value of academic-clinical partnerships far exceeds the typical expectation of a commitment for student internship placements in exchange for continuing education services. If this myopic perspective is maintained, lost opportunities will follow. The profession has a responsibility to groom future leaders who can inspire others, navigate change, as well as collaborate and advocate for what is in the best interest of the profession and those we serve. Yet, while this intention is noble, the cost and effort required to produce leaders is often quite high, thereby creating a strain on a single entity. Partnerships provide a means of utilizing shared expertise to offset expense. Leadership development best occurs when initiated as a student and when continued into the clinic so as to reinforce the fundamental value of “lifelong learning.” With more creative approaches, opportunities to gain leadership and advocacy experience can be incorporated into academic-clinical partnerships in a cost-neutral manner. To create the leaders of tomorrow, planning and effort is required today.


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Deusinger, S., Crowner, B., Burlis, T., & Stith, J. (2013). Meeting Contemporary Expectations for Physical Therapists: Imperatives, Challenges, and Proposed Solutions for Professional Education. Journal of Physical Therapy Education 28(1), 56-61

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Course Objectives

1. Discuss elements and requirements of sustainable, functional relationships between academic and clinical entities and favorable outcomes that can be derived from such
2. Conceptualize cost-neutral leadership opportunities for students and clinicians that can be borne out of effective partnerships
3. Determine how leadership and advocacy experiences can be properly and effectively negotiated and implemented

Instructional Methods

Lecture, Q&A

Tentative Outline/Schedule

I. Overview academic –clinical partnerships (20 min)
a. Needs assessment
b. Traditional models
c. Lost opportunities
II. Partnership models for leadership development (50 min)
a. Student development
b. Clinician development
III. Question and answer (20 min)

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  • Control #: 2751842
  • Type: Educational Session
  • Event/Year: ELC2017
  • Authors: Sharon Kurfuerst, Eric Stewart, Albert Mears, Ellen Wruble Hakim
  • Keywords:

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