Associate Professor Awarded for Promoting Excellence in Physical Therapy Education

Headshot of Hansen

Associate Professor Ruth Lyons Hansen, P.T., D.P.T., Ph.D., recently won the Physical Therapy Learning Institute’s Education Influencer Award for her presentation entitled, “Failure to Fail: Physical Therapist Clinical Instructors’ Perceptions and Practices,” which examines the experience of clinical instructors who supervise underperforming students. The award recognizes research that has the potential to drive excellence in physical therapy education.

“Dr. Hansen has a wealth of experience in supporting students to successfully complete their clinical experiences,” said Kathleen Golisz, interim dean of the School of Health and Natural Sciences. “The award speaks to the importance of her research on clinical instructors’ experiences too. This award is very well-deserved because Dr. Hansen certainly is someone who inspires and drives more efficient, effective learning.”

Part of a larger mixed methods study examining the experience of clinical instructors in physical therapy programs, “Failure to Fail” focuses on the experience of clinical instructors supervising students who are underperforming in clinical rotations. In other health professions, clinical instructors sometimes give passing grades to students who should not pass. Hansen’s study looked at whether this happens in physical therapy programs and, if so, why. Her research indicated that there are times when physical therapy clinical instructors pass underperforming students.

Given her role as director of clinical education for the Physical Therapy Program, the study certainly informs Hansen’s work at Mercy. For example, clinical directors like Hansen provide continuous teaching and assessment support to clinical instructors.

“It’s nice to get the recognition, so I feel honored by this award,” said Hansen. “But the award also helps bring this important topic to the forefront. It’s a topic that really matters if we’re committed to producing excellent physical therapists.”