Clinical Teaching Competencies in Physical Therapist Education: A Modified Delphi Study

Katherine Myers, Catherine Bilyeu, Kyle Covington, Amanda Sharp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: Clinical instructors play a key role in physical therapist professional education but may serve with minimal preparation and without clearly defined expectations for their teaching performance. The objective of this study was to utilize a consensus-building process to establish core competencies of clinical teaching within physical therapist education. METHODS: A modified Delphi approach was used to identify core competencies of clinical teaching. An expert panel consisted of clinical instructors, site coordinators of clinical education, and directors of clinical education, representing multiple geographic regions in the United States. The panel assessed the relevance of 30 original competencies. Criteria for consensus included 75% of participants perceiving the competency as very or extremely relevant and a median score of 2 (very relevant) on a 5-point Likert scale. Consistent with a Modified Delphi approach, quantitative and qualitative data analysis were completed for each of the 3 rounds. Revised surveys were used in Rounds 2 and 3 based on the results from previous data analysis. RESULTS: Twenty-four competencies achieved final consensus. The competencies were categorized within 3 domains: learner-centered educator (n = 8), assessor/evaluator (n = 7), and professional role model (n = 9). CONCLUSION: The 24 competencies and 3 domains provide the foundation for a competency framework for clinical teaching in physical therapy. This framework provides clarity for the expected knowledge, skills, and attitudes of clinical instructors in physical therapist professional education. IMPACT: This is the first study, to our knowledge, to utilize a consensus-building strategy to clearly define competencies of clinical teaching in physical therapist professional education. Like efforts in nursing and medical education, adoption of these competencies could promote consistency in clinical instructor teaching behaviors and contribute to the creation of assessment and professional development mechanisms for clinical instructors, positively impacting the preparation of the next generation of excellent physical therapist clinicians.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberpzac063
JournalPhysical therapy
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Author(s).


  • Education: Clinical
  • Education: Competency-Based
  • Education: Faculty
  • Education: Physical Therapist Students

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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