Mentoring through Networking: An Innovative and Participatory Model of Empowering Clinical Educators to Advance Student Clinical Reasoning


As part of their job responsibilities, academic clinical education faculty routinely provide formal and informal mentoring to their clinical education partners. It is also common for academic faculty to collaborate regionally to provide resources and educational activities to aid in the professional development of their CCCEs/CIs. Unfortunately, there are fewer opportunities for mentoring and networking among clinical partners, especially across clinical sites. This has created a somewhat unilateral approach to mentoring in which academic educators are perceived as the mentor and clinical educators as the mentees. While peer teaching and learning has been demonstrated to be effective with students in health professions programs, this concept is not being carried over to mentoring of clinical educators. One clinical education consortium recently developed and implemented the concept of “mentoring-through-networking” to provide an opportunity for clinical educators from across their region to build relationships and have structured discussions around contemporary clinical education topics. Outcomes from using this model during a continuing education course with 57 clinical educators demonstrate support for its continued use. The purpose of this program is to demonstrate “mentoring-through-networking”, a novel method that has been successfully used by one regional clinical education consortium to engage academic and clinical educators in peer exchange of clinical education best practices, specifically teaching clinical reasoning to students during clinical experiences.

Methods and/or Description of Project

This course will briefly discuss the concepts of mentoring and networking then introduce participants to a unique way of linking these valuable tools to empower clinical educators as both teachers and learners. Presenters will then facilitate participant engagement in applying these concepts to a contemporary topic of clinical education – clinical reasoning. As clinical educators, we strive to develop effective strategies to promote, enhance and advance clinical reasoning in our students in order to assure clinical competence and develop autonomous practitioners. This can be especially challenging during our students’ first clinical experiences. By providing opportunities to build relationships and facilitating structured discussions around this contemporary clinical education topic, clinical educators will increase their confidence and leadership skills as they share knowledge and experiences. In addition, the development of a professional clinical education network will empower participants to voice solutions and innovations in their setting to advocate for continual improvement of their clinical education program.

After experiencing the mentoring-through-networking process, the results of course evaluations, post-course survey and resources generated from use of this model will be shared. The course will close with a sharing of ideas generated through networking and discussion to answer questions.


Assessment data from the consortium’s continuing education courses will be shared to highlight the positive response from clinical educators to this novel approach of connecting DCEs/CCCEs/CIs and to provide insight into modifications that can be used to individualize this model. In addition, the results of a follow-up survey will be discussed to show the level of networking among participants and presenters that persisted in the 6 month period following the course. We will also share our use of our consortium website and regional mentoring network to further encourage networking beyond the course. Samples of resources that can result from mentoring-through-networking courses will be shown and a participant from a past course will share her personal experience.

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

Transforming how we provide professional development activities for clinical educators to allow for more peer mentoring opportunities through structured networking will provide benefits for all clinical education stakeholders. Through use of this model, DCEs, CCCEs, and CIs will build stronger relationships, enhance clinical educator confidence, ingrain leadership, provide practice of teaching skills and encourage participants to advocate for advancing clinical education practices in their own setting. By engaging in the mentoring-through-networking process around the concept of teaching clinical reasoning in the early learning, participants will learn useful strategies from each other that can be immediately implemented in their own practice setting.


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Course Objectives

At the end of this course, participants will be able to:
1. Examine the role of mentorship in the PT profession.
2. Identify opportunities for mentorship for each clinical education role.
3. Discuss the role of networking in professional development.
4. Apply networking tips to the clinical reasoning topic discussion.
5. Discuss at least 3 new ideas of how to foster excellent clinical reasoning in student learning.
6. Develop a “mentoring-through-networking” conference for their clinical education colleagues.

Instructional Methods

Lecture, structured networking, facilitated roundtable discussions, large group discussion

Tentative Outline/Schedule

10 min History and development of the Mentoring-through-Networking concept
15 min Mentoring-through-Networking: Laying the groundwork for collaboration and professional development
20 min A CI’s perspective on developing clinical reasoning skills in novice student practitioners
25 min Clinical reasoning roundtable break out with facilitators
10 min Clinical reasoning sharing and summation
10 min Outcomes/products from a Mentoring-through-Networking course

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  • Control #: 2751899
  • Type: Educational Session
  • Event/Year: ELC2017
  • Authors: Dr. Tonya Apke, Janice Howman, Brianne Rice, Dr. Amelia Siles, Sean Gallivan, Dr. Erin Thomas
  • Keywords:

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