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Students/Faculty News Kevin Storr October 24, 2022

Tara Pearce, PT, DHS, associate professor and director of Clinical Education for the UAB Doctor of Physical Therapy program, has received the Marilyn Gossman Award for Professionalism in Physical Therapy – the most prestigious honor given by the Alabama Chapter of the American Physical Therapy Association.

The award is named after “The Mother of UAB PT” who served as faculty and chair of the program from 1967 until she passed away in 1998 (learn more at www.uab.edu/marilyngossman). It recognizes those who have positively and substantially affected PT practice in Alabama and impacted other PT professionals through outstanding professionalism in the any of the areas of PT service, practice, education and/or research.

Patty Perez, DScPT, a colleague and associate professor in the Department of Physical Therapy, said Pearce’s extraordinary commitment as a UAB DPT faculty member/Director of Clinical Education and her integral role in the creation and implementation of the APTA Credentialed Clinical Instructor program covers all aspects of this award.

“She has served as faculty – traveling to clinic sites around the state – and trained instructors to become faculty of the Credentialed Clinical Instructor program,” said Perez. “Tara’s work has resulted in improved experiences for both students and clinical instructors and that speaks volumes in how much her expertise is valued by our entire profession.”

“People do not realize all she does for our profession,” said David Morris, Ph.D., FAPTA, chair, Department of Physical Therapy. “She really is a national leader in clinical education and has served on all the task forces and committees and developed so many courses and events.”

Pearce joined APTA in 1995, became a physical therapist in 1997, and has been heavily involved ever since.  At the state level, she has attended many PT Day at the Capitol events in Montgomery, served on education committees, been a mentor in the We Can Do It program, and was instrumental in developing and disseminating the “Jurisprudence Essentials for Alabama Physical Therapists, Physical Therapist Assistants, and Students” course.

Nationally, she has served on the APTA Task Force on Professionalism, the board for ACAPT’s Simulation in Physical Therapy Education Consortium (SIPTEC), and a member of the Academy of Education and Neurology. Most recently, she co-developed  the “Outside Hospital” acute care simulation program with the UAB Department of Occupational Therapy This is a collaboration that places students in simulated hospital situations in the ICU, Neurology, and Orthopedic Units.

“Tara is one of the most hard working and passionate faculty members and I am consistently impressed by her work ethic and willingness to do whatever it takes to benefit our team, said Jennifer Christy, Ph.D., director, UAB Doctor of Physical Therapy program. “I never worry one second about our students getting a top notch clinical education in our DPT program with Tara at the helm.”

“I am honored to receive the Marilyn Gossman Award for Professionalism," said Pearce. "I never had the pleasure of knowing Marilyn but am grateful for the lasting impact she has had on physical therapy.”

In 2014, UAB launched the Marilyn Gossman Lecture for the Advancement of Physical Therapy. Each year, a renowned therapist who has made profound contributions to the profession is selected to deliver this lecture. In addition, the national APTA Combined Sections Meeting holds a Marilyn Gossman Graduate Student Research Seminar to honor her commitment to developing the PT researcher – it is known in academia as a space to discover future faculty members.

The Marilyn Gossman Award for Professionalism in Physical Therapy was delivered to Pearce at the 2022 APTA Alabama Annual Conference in Birmingham on August 6.

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