A Brenau PT student works with a client during a lab.

Department of Physical Therapy joins national consortium

Oct 28, 2021
Kathryne Davis

The Brenau University Department of Physical Therapy, along with clinical partner Northeast Georgia Health System, recently joined the American Council of Academic Physical Therapy’s National Consortium of Clinical Educators.

Heather Ross, PT department chair in the Ivester College of Health Sciences, said the move ensures that Brenau’s program has an active voice in promoting excellence in physical therapy clinical education.

“This allows us to represent our students and program, and contribute to the decisions that are made with regard to clinical education — a critical and significant part of our curriculum that occurs outside of our institution and in the clinic,” Ross said.

The mission of the NCCE is to lead a culture of shared accountability for physical therapy education by connecting stakeholders across academic and practice communities to facilitate integration of the best practices in clinical education. The consortium invites an educational program and a key clinical partner to jointly represent the program at the national level. Brenau’s membership into the NCCE is ongoing, and the university is one of the 28 members in ACAPT’s South Atlantic region to join the NCCE.

NCCE membership will allow Brenau to collaborate and network with other academic programs and clinical sites across the country, including institutions like Emory University, Columbia University and Duke University. Members also have the opportunity to influence current and future clinical education.

As director of clinical education for Brenau’s PT program, Tammy Buck is tasked with finding clinical sites and ensuring they provide students with the best learning experiences. Buck, who also serves as an assistant professor and Brenau’s NCCE representative, said these experiences depend upon the collective efforts of the university and its partners.

“Clinical education is a vital portion of a student’s preparation for a healthcare field,” Buck said. “Doctorate of physical therapy students participate in 30 weeks of full-time clinical education during their academic programs. Clinical education bridges the transition from didactic learning to clinical care during which students are placed in a variety of clinic settings to learn from experienced clinicians. Students refine their hands-on clinical reasoning and communication skills to be safe and competent physical therapists.

NCCE membership requires institutions to have a clinical education team consisting of at least one academic and one clinical faculty member. Paul Turner, site coordinator of clinical education with the Northeast Georgia Health System, has partnered with Buck and Brenau.

“As a physical therapist, I believe it is important to educate myself to provide the highest quality of care for my patients,” Turner said. “NGHS is proud to partner with Brenau and be a member of the NCCE, whose mission is to connect its members through facilitated discussions of best practices in clinical education.”

Buck said that Brenau will be able to share at a national level what sets Brenau apart from other programs, along with learning from other institutions.

“The Brenau program emphasizes experiential learning throughout the curriculum,” Buck said. “Our students participate in the Early Mobility Program at NGHS in small groups, supervised by clinical adjunct faculty. Students are also presented with service opportunities to work alongside faculty and participate in local, regional and global efforts.”