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Momentum and a Flywheel

Wainwright, Susan, PT, PhD; Brueilly, Kevin E., PT, PhD

Journal of Physical Therapy Education: December 2018 - Volume 32 - Issue 4 - p 311
doi: 10.1097/JTE.0000000000000079

Susan Wainwright is from the Thomas Jefferson University, 901 Walnut Street, Room 504, Philadelphia, PA 19107 ( Please address all correspondence to Susan Wainwright.

Kevin E. Brueilly is professor and chair in the Department of Physical Therapy, Augusta University, Georgia.

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

It was 1 year ago when we as co-editors wrote our inaugural editorial. In that editorial, we laid out some of the goals that we were working to achieve with (what is now) the Academy of Physical Therapy Education (APTE). We have ticked some of the “to do” items from our list: expanded our editorial board, cleared our manuscript backlog, and transitioned to our new publisher and electronic submission platform, EditorialManager, to name a few. We believed that completing these foundation activities was necessary to allow us to turn our attention to our much bigger picture and aspirational goals for the Journal.

A consistent theme within the educational community has been to increase the capacity for and rigor of educational research within physical therapy. As the co-editors of JOPTE, we are investing in and contributing to all initiatives that work toward these goals. We hope that after reading these last four issues of the Journal, you will agree that we are moving closer toward accomplishing those aspirations.

In 2014, the American Council of Academic Physical Therapy (ACAPT) Clinical Education Summit developed harmonization and innovation recommendations in visioning future directions for clinical education.1 Educational researchers have maintained momentum to move these recommendations forward. Companion articles in this issue by McCallum et al and Engelhard et al explored issues centered on some of the harmonization recommendations of the Clinical Education Summit. These articles describe the scope of contemporary roles of Directors of Clinical Education (DCEs) and provide recommendation for the evolution of the roles of DCEs to meet the strategic initiatives for physical therapy education.

In another article published in JOPTE by Timmerberg et al earlier this year, the current roles in which Center Coordinators of Clinical Education (CCCEs) engage were compared with the American Physical Therapy Association's recommendation for roles of CCCEs. Description of the current and visioned roles of these two important stakeholders (CCCE and DCE) in clinical education provides essential information to addressing the recommendations from the Clinical Education Summit and advancing education in our profession.2

Subsequent to the Clinical Education Summit, in 2015, ACAPT created and charged three panels to develop recommendations for clinical education.3 The three priority panels addressed common terminology, integrated clinical experiences, and student readiness in clinical education. Erickson et al4 published their work and recommendations from the Common Terminology Panel in an article in Physical Therapy earlier this year. In addition to the articles in this issue that contribute to the evolving literature in clinical education, articles in this issue explore pedagogical issues in academic education.

Publication is but 1 example of this momentum. Just last month, the inaugural Grantsmanship and Mentorship in Educational Research (GAMER) workshop was held. Ten of our educational research colleagues met and were mentored by leaders in educational research with the goal of developing sustainable lines of scholarly inquiry to advance entry-level and postprofessional physical therapist education. The ongoing initiatives through the Education Leadership Partnership (ELP) such as sponsoring the Medical Education Research Certificate program, are additional examples of work that is being done, which sustains this momentum.

The metaphor of a flywheel is apropos to the momentum that has been building for educational research in our profession. The term “flywheel effect” was coined by Collins5 in the book Good to Great. Energy is required to overcome the inertia of the flywheel. The ability to continually bring energy to the flywheel is critical to create sufficient momentum to overcome inertia and keep the flywheel moving. In applying this metaphor to educational research, the energy required to overcome the inertia of our current state has been building. As we illustrated above in just a few examples, across the profession, there is input from numerous sources to create this energy. The explicit work of multiple educational stakeholders (ACAPT, APTE, APTA individually as and partners in the ELP), as well as the work done by my members of the profession, has been critical sources of energy contributing to the building momentum of this flywheel.

As movement system specialists, every physical therapy professional recalls Newton's laws of motion—a body in motion tends to stay in motion, and as it gains mass, it becomes even more difficult to halt. Currently, this metaphorical educational research flywheel is turning. Transforming education through the production and dissemination of quality research requires momentum from the flywheel. Key strategies for increasing this momentum include ongoing communication of vision, adherence to our core values and best practice, and intentional assessment of goals and outcomes to drive quality improvement.6 It is through continued collaboration and visioning by our members and stakeholders that we as a profession will continue to generate and evolve the energy inputs necessary to breakthrough this inertia.

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2. Timmerberg JF, Dungey J, Stolfi AM, Dougherty ME. Defining the role of the center coordinators of clinical education: Identifying responsibilities, supports, and challenges. J Phys Ther Ed. 2018;32:38–45.
4. Erickson M, Birkmeier M, Booth M, et al. Recommendations from the common terminology panel of the American council of academic physical therapy. Phys Ther. 2018;98:754–762.
5. Collins J. Good to Great. New York, NY: Harper Collins; 2001.
6. Best from the brightest: Jim Collins' Flywheel. Accessed October 8, 2018.
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