Purpose: The placement process is a key contributor to current challenges in health science clinical education. The Director of Clinical Education (DCE) is the central figure in coordinating the placement process in physical therapist education. Despite their central role, there is no research exploring the DCE perspective during this process. The purpose of this study was to explore the DCE’s experience in navigating the placement process to further understand how the DCE role is impacted by barriers and facilitators encountered during this process. Methods: Fourteen DCEs representing private and public institutions from across the country participated in the study. Using a multiple case analysis approach, semi-structured interviews were conducted with each participant. Interview transcripts underwent thematic analysis using a team-based coding approach to identify categories and themes. Results: Five themes with eighteen associated categories represent the interconnectedness between the DCE’s approach to the placement process and their experience throughout. The five themes are: Prolonged Process, Sense of Competition, Leveraging Relationships, Student Centeredness, and Clinical Site Considerations. Conclusions: This is the first study to examine the DCE’s experience in a specific aspect of their faculty role. The placement process is a core component of the DCE’s responsibilities, and its inherent complexities and prolonged nature impact the DCE’s workload and overall experience as a faculty member. Supporting the DCE in this process can have a positive impact on the student experience, and relationships between academic programs and clinical sites, and the DCE’s satisfaction in their role, Findings from this study can be used to address challenges faced by DCEs and other faculty in other health sciences professions that are involved in the clinical placement process.

Author Bio(s)

Jamie L. Greco PT, DPT, EdD is an Assistant Professor and Co-Director of Clinical Education in the Doctor of Physical Therapy Division at Duke University in Durham, NC. Dr. Greco also serves as the Coordinator of the Faculty Development Residency.

Katherine D. Myers PT, DPT is an Assistant Professor and Co-Director of Clinical Education in the Doctor of Physical Therapy Division at Duke University in Durham, NC. Dr. Myers also serves as the Assistant Director of Curriculum.


The authors would like to acknowledge Elizabeth Mostrom, PhD, FAPTA and Carol Recker-Hughes, PhD for their assistance and expert guidance in this study.




Submission Location


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