Clarkson University Clinical Associate Professor Vicki LaFay and Clinical Professor Stacey Zeigler recently published research focused on practices of exemplary leaders in physical therapist clinical education in the Journal of Physical Therapy Education.
The two Clarkson professors, along with Assistant Professor Nicki Silberman of Hunter College, sought to identify the behaviors, thoughts, and actions of successful directors of clinical education (DCE) and site coordinators of clinical education (SCCE) who have demonstrated longevity in these positions.
A participant-driven process of cognitive mapping and one-on-one interviews elicited perspectives on the critical factors that contributed to the longevity and success of 13 identified leaders in physical therapy clinical education. The five main themes that emerged were consistent across all participants, distinct from outside experiences and influences, and were found to be representative of the participants’ multifaceted professional roles over the span of their careers.
The five themes identifying their role success were professional identity as a bridge between academic and clinical practices, a strong work ethic for excellence, build meaningful relationships, “bring it on” attitude, and influence.
The results of this study provide a better understanding of excellence in Physical Therapist Clinical Education leadership and guide recruitment, training, and retention of future leaders. The findings suggest that characteristics of successful leaders can be recognized, allowing one to identify candidates with the potential for success in these positions and should guide leadership training initiatives specifically designed to meet the needs of a complex and evolving CE landscape.