Clinical Instructor Credentialing and Its Effect on Student Clinical Performance Outcomes

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Background and Purpose.The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) offers a program for clinical instructor (CI) education and credentialing, known as the Clinical Instructor Education and Credentialing Program (CIECP). Although at the time of this study, there were over 12,000 APTA-credentialed CIs, yet there were not any published studies investigating potential differences between the clinical performance outcomes of physical therapist students supervised by APTA-credentialed CIs and students supervised by non-APTA-credentialed CIs. The purpose of this study was to investigate these differences.Subjects.A total of 76 CIs (38 credentialed and 38 non-credentialed) and their students participated in the study, representing 32 universities located across the continental United States.Methods.Each APTA-credentialed CI-student pair was matched with a non-APTA-credentialed CI-student pair from the same class cohort at the same academic program from each participating institution. The data were collected from demographic forms and from the APTA Physical Therapist Clinical Performance Instrument (PT CPI). The 2 groups, credentialed and non-credentialed, were compared for differences in final ratings using a paired t-test. A post hoc analysis later compared for differences in PT CPI scores with a focus on the first 5 red-flag items, using a nonparametric multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA).Results.The study did not find a statistically significant difference between the final ratings of the 24 criteria or the first 5 red-flag criteria of the PT CPI between the 2 groups. However, a post hoc analysis demonstrated a statistically significant interaction (P = .001) between the 2 groups from midterm to final evaluations; the students supervised by APTA-credentialed CIs showed greater improvement over time than the students working with non-APTA-credentialed CIs for the first 5 red-flag criteria and for the sum of the 24 criteria on the PT CPI.

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