​Since our program's inception, we have adopted a model for clinical education at CMU that includes our Director of Clinical Education (DCE) and four Regional Clinical Coordinators (RCCs) that assist her in overseeing clinical education. The DCE and RCCs are assigned to one of five regional areas in Michigan and out-of-state. We also have a Senior Office Assistant and a College Compliance Coordinator to round out our clinical education team and who provide administrative and regulatory assistance to our program. In this article, we would like to introduce you to each member of our team and share the history and philosophy of this model.

Regional Clinical Coordinators.jpg
(L to R-Linda Hall, Jacqueline Wiley, Caroline Gwaltney, Karen Grossnickle, Kristen VanderArk)

Karen Grossnickle, PT, DHSc, is the present Director of Clinical Education. She stepped into the role in 2016 when Elizabeth Mostrom, PT, Ph.D., previous DCE, announced her plans to retire. Karen was previously a Regional Clinical Coordinator serving the East-Central Region of Michigan and has been a clinical education team member since 1999. She continues to work clinically with persons with pelvic floor dysfunctions.

Our four regional clinical coordinators live and work in the area for which they supervise students. Linda Hall, PT, M.S., DPT lives in the Detroit area and works clinically in an acute care setting and supports the southeast Michigan and northern Ohio region. She is active locally with the Detroit-area clinical education forum. Kristen VanderArk, PT, M.S., NCS lives in the Grand Rapids area, practices in a subacute setting in a stroke and brain injury specialty program and manages the southwest Michigan and northern Indiana and Illinois areas. She is active in the MPTA western clinical education forum. Caroline Gwaltney, PT, DPT, CWS lives in the upper peninsula of Michigan and is a full-time faculty member at our Houghton campus. She has teaching responsibilities in addition to being the regional clinical coordinator for the Upper Peninsula and northern Wisconsin. She practices in outpatient and acute care with a specialty in wound care. Jacqueline Wiley, PT, DPT, CLT, CKTP is an interim RCC and is covering the northern lower and central Michigan. Jacquie has been teaching in our orthopedic mock course for many years and recently retired from clinical practice.

 Mary Smith                                            Carolyn Cardon

Our team is supported by two very important people. Mary Smith, Senior Office Specialist joined us one year ago. Many of you might have had contact with Amber Marr, who was previously in the role. Mary assists us with coordination of communication between the Program and sites prior to and following clinical placements, is the Program administrator for the CPI and Exxat software platforms besides assisting with our clinical education outcomes assessments. Carolyn Cardon, The Herbert H. & Grace A. Dow College of Health Professions (CHP) Clinical Compliance Coordinator, ensures that our students are in compliance with the requirements outlined in our Affiliation Agreements. She is our CMU CHP designee who handles background checks and drug screens. She also assists the DCE with management and handling of student HIPAA-protected documents.

The CMU Physical Therapy Department model of clinical education allows each RCC to manage and supervise a smaller number of students (we lovingly call these "pods" like whale pods) giving the students and sites greater support. It allows RCCs and students to meet monthly in "pod" meetings during which the students receive instruction from the Program, but also have an opportunity to share experiences with one another by giving an in-service to their peers and discussing challenging and interesting cases together for mutual learning (always with HIPAA in mind). There are times, however, that students join these meetings virtually due to their distance from one another, like all the way across the U.P. or if the student is out-of-state! With five clinical faculty, almost all midterm assessments can be done with in-person site visits. Our goal is to get to know our clinical sites and the clinical staff better and keep up on your changes, challenges, and concerns too! We are always willing to answer questions related to clinical education and even give an in-service on a particular topic related to clinical education at your request. From a national perspective, the cry has been closer and more intimate partnerships with sites on a more consistent basis so that the learning objectives from all parties are known and can be facilitated like a true partnership suggests should happen. We believe that our model is set up to meet this demand. Never hesitate to contact any one of us if you have a question or concern or an idea of how we can make our partnership stronger!