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Transition to Rehab Management

Clinical Ladder

Published November 1, 2013 3:54 PM by Karen Schiff

Creating an environment that is conducive to staff development has always been at the heart of many healthcare systems. What about self-development? From personal experience, I've learned that many systems don't always support clinical staff education.

One of the reasons I've stayed at my current place of employment is due to the support of my leaders, not only for personal issues, but professional advancement as well. This past year I had the honor of having my doctorate of physical therapy bestowed on me. Being encouraged by my peers who worked with me every day, I decided the time was right in my life to further my education and become "re-ignited," especially after becoming a single mother of two teenage girls.

What better way to show daughters what a strong woman can accomplish, and come out way ahead of anything we ever imagined. Another reason was because my healthcare system believes in investing in its own dedicated, long-term employees. As a result, there's a higher quality of care being delivered by those of us invested in our "second family." 

Although there is a limited number of those left without a graduate degree in physical therapy in the healthcare system, we continuously look for other opportunities for our clinical staff to develop themselves, if not in furthering their degrees, then improving their clinical status. The latest development is the clinical ladder for rehabilitative medicine. Across the healthcare system, we've developed a tool for staff to consider applying for, which will bestow on them a rank that demonstrates a higher level of care, as well as identify the leaders in our system.

As part of a system that employs different levels of education, ages and skills, some of us have struggled with the idea of what it will take to become a level II or level III clinician. From obtaining a higher degree, to developing a program, performing research, providing a continuing education course to outside therapists, the transition of climbing a step on the clinical ladder is proving to be quite challenging to some, and not so much to others who continuously invest in themselves. 

As an employee of Memorial Healthcare System, I'm often reminded why many of us (including myself) entered the field of rehabilitative medicine. Having experienced the support, both emotionally and financially, over the years, I strongly believe that showing employees their education is valued highly, will continue to produce loyal employees for years to come. This system surely has my vote!

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Memorial's clinical ladder is a program available to rehabilitation professionals in our system.  Any employee with three or more years of experience is eligible to apply.  Points are earned in different areas, such as obtaining a higher degree, certification, writing articles, doing research, and community involvement, just to name a few areas.  In addition, the employee is required to develop their 'portfolio' with their credentials, as well as be interviewed by a panel of directors and other health care professionals.  Once approved, the employee doesn't necessarily maintain their status on the clinical ladder, instead, they must continue to earn "points" to maintain that status.  It is a great way to encourage employees to remain active in their role.  Good luck with your future endeavors!

Karen Schiff November 6, 2013 12:03 PM

Karen, I really appreciated your article. I am a PTA working on a BS in health care administration. I would like to know more about Memorial's ladder to clinical management.


Debra Hoffman, PTA November 2, 2013 10:18 AM
Allentown PA

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