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Clinical Education "March Madness" Follow-Up

In the world of PT clinical education, “March Madness” did not bring you the thrill of buzzer beater victories or the agony of busted brackets but last month most likely did bring a flurry of clinical placement requests for you to strategize over. Have you ever wondered if there is a method to this “Clinical Education Madness?” If so, the answer to this question is YES, there has been thoughtful consideration given to our current clinical education placement process. The majority of placement requests are sent in March because of the voluntary uniform mailing date motion, which passed unanimously at the APTA Section on Education Clinical Education Special Interest Group (CE SIG) meeting in 1998. This motion called for PT and PTA academic programs to annually mail their placement requests for the following calendar year to their clinical affiliates between March 1st and March 15th with a requested return date of April 30th. The uniform mailing dates were first implemented in 1999.

Knowing that much has changed in the PT world in the last 17 years, you are probably thinking that the uniform mailing date might need updated! Rest assured that the CE SIG has revisited this topic, not once but twice, in recent years because of concerns voiced about academic programs not complying with the dates. In 2009, a new survey was developed and sent to ACCE/DCEs and CCCE/CIs with over 1000 academic and clinical educators responding. The majority of respondents (80.5%) were in favor of maintaining the original dates for the mailing with most academic and clinical educators reporting adherence to the dates.

More recently in 2015, a March mailing task force was developed and this time, the survey was expanded to gather information about the mailing date process as well as the dates themselves. Results from 296 ACCEs/DCEs and 504 CCCEs revealed that 82.5% of CCCEs feel the March 1st date is working while 60.8% of ACCE/DCEs feel this way. There appears to be consensus about the distribution method with the majority of ACCE/DCEs sending out request forms by email (89.6%) and most CCCEs preferring to receive the request by email (86.7%). In regards to return rates, very few academic programs (8.7%) report getting greater than 75% of their request forms returned while approximately one quarter of all ACCE/DCEs report return rates in each of the following categories: 51-75%, 30-50% and less than 30%. The vast majority of ACCE/DCEs (77%) and CCCEs (88%) agreed that a consistent format for the request form would be desired. Based on these results, it was agreed that no change is needed to the mailing dates themselves but the task force is currently working to develop a standardized form that can be used across the country possibly by March 2017.

The PT programs of the Ohio-Kentucky Consortium support the uniform March mailing dates and the efforts of the CE SIG to help streamline the current clinical placement process for our affiliating CCCEs. We hope that our attempt to use a relatively standard form this year was helpful. We also have made our 2017 aggregate clinical education calendar available to you on our consortium placement calendar page to assist with your clinical education planning. If you have suggestions for additional resources or processes that we can provide to reduce your “Clinical Education March Madness” stress, please feel free to contact one of our Consortium ACCE/DCEs!

*more details about the March mailing history and current survey results are available on the CE SIG’s website at

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