Background and Purpose.
The purpose of this article is to review the 40-year history of the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE), highlight its contributions and controversies, and reflect on how it has influenced the physical therapy profession.
Position and Rationale.
It is our contention that CAPTE has played a pivotal role in shaping the direction of physical therapy education since its inception in 1977, and that it will continue to do so in the future despite multiple challenges related to expanding government regulations, an ever-changing health care delivery system, a proliferation of new programs, ongoing faculty shortages, and growing concerns over an unsustainable model for clinical education. The evolution of CAPTE's accreditation standards over the past 40 years has also been instrumental in advancing physical therapy education, practice, and research as they continue to raise the bar for faculty qualifications, scholarly expectations, curricular content, and the designated entry-level degree for physical therapy practitioners. Although these and other issues will continue to challenge CAPTE's resources and processes, we are confident that CAPTE will adapt as needed to fulfill its mission of assuring quality and continuous improvement in physical therapy education.
Discussion and Conclusion.
The physical therapy profession can take pride in the outstanding reputation that CAPTE has established as a model of best practices in specialized accreditation. By reflecting on CAPTE's 40-year history and present status, we have shown how well CAPTE has served the interests of the public and the profession. In looking forward, we share CAPTE's vision for becoming an autonomous, self-governing body that sets global standards which will positively affect physical therapy education and practice for years to come.