Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Leadership - Higher Education

Committee Chair/Advisor

Rachel Wagner

Committee Member

Tony Cawthon

Committee Member

Natasha Croom

Committee Member

Pamela Ritzline


In physical therapy education, there is a shortage of physical therapy faculty members. Considering this shortage, it is essential to understand new faculty’s experiences in order to recruit and retain qualified individuals. New faculty are often recruited directly from clinical practice for their expertise but lack training in teaching and learning. Using Schlossberg’s transition therapy as a framework, the lived experiences of physical therapy faculty members’ transition from clinical practice to academia was explored. The purpose of this study was to 1) explore the work-role transition of new faculty members in physical therapy education programs, 2) identify potential resources faculty members need to navigate the role change and identify deficits in resources needed to cope with the transition. In depth interviews with 9 faculty members who transitioned from clinical practice to academia were conducted.

New faculty members make sense of their transition into higher education by comparing the clinical setting to the higher education setting. These faculty members further their understanding by engaging in ongoing learning, mentorship, and experience. Personal characteristics of assertiveness, lifelong learning, and an innate drive were found to be assets for new faculty members. Support systems that were an asset to individuals transitioning from clinical practice to academia were mentorship and support for developing educational practices. Participants also noted resources and support that were lacking including a thorough orientation and lack of mentorship. A lack of these resources contributed to faculty members feeling isolated and overwhelmed.

The findings of this study provide a unique glimpse into new physical therapy faculty who transition from clinical practice. Knowing the transitional experiences of new faculty is beneficial for programs, institutions, and those interested in moving into academia. With a shortage of physical therapy faculty members, institutions and the greater physical therapy education community need to create strategies to aid individuals in coping with the transition into academia. Strategies include more opportunities for mentorship with other seasoned faculty members, faculty development activities that promote collaboration, and time management strategies to improve work life balance.



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