Steven B. Ambler, DPT, MPH, PhD
PROGRAM IN PHYSICAL THERAPY
Associate Professor of Physical Therapy and of Orthopaedic Surgery
Director, Division of Professional Curriculum in Physical Therapy
2023 Dean’s Impact Award Recipient
When the pandemic emerged, students in the Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program had already returned to campus. Within two days of campus closure, Steven B. Ambler, DPT, MPH, PhD, re-imagined the DPT curriculum and implemented his vision to allow students to continue their studies remotely with minimal disruptions. This was no small feat, as Ambler needed to rally and support faculty and staff, optimize use of available resources, communicate clearly and effectively with multiple stakeholders and be a role model of calm resilience. He did all of this expertly, and more. In the midst of this upheaval and reinvention of the existing curriculum, Ambler also led an extensive curriculum renewal process that was initiated prior to the pandemic and could have easily been put aside during the acute crisis. However, Ambler moved ahead, recognizing the value of a forward-looking goal for faculty to unite around rather than getting mired in the day-to-day challenges of pandemic life. Ambler astutely guided faculty to use skills gained and materials developed out of necessity in delivering the existing curriculum to inform the renewal process, finding silver linings in unexpected places. Thanks to Ambler’s leadership, the curriculum renewal process proceeded according to the original timeline, and Washington University launched the first fully competency-based DPT curriculum in the nation in fall 2021. Ambler’s exemplary efforts are to be commended not only for keeping the program going in the face of adversity, but for keeping Washington University at the forefront of physical therapy education nationally.