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The modern history of the practitioner-teacher model dates back to 1972, when Rush-Presbyterian-St.-Luke's Medical Center in Chicago, Illinois, established Rush University, a health sciences university that was designed to be a fully integrated subsidiary of the medical center. This unique structure was dubbed the 'practitioner teacher model,' in that all aspects of the university were operated by the full-time practitioners - clinicians and administrators - who ran the medical center.
Several features differentiate practitioner-teacher model programs from more traditional, academically-based universities:
- Programs are housed within applied settings, with coursework delivered by practitioners experienced in applying the concepts to real-world challenges.
- All aspects of coursework focus heavily on applied practice, at a level that is beyond what non-practicing faculty can achieve.
- Admissions criteria emphasize profession-relevant characteristics of applicants, in addition to academic credentials.
Graduates of practitioner-teacher programs are also far more likely to enter into applied and/or clinical settings upon graduation, rather than continuing on into theoretical or research-oriented programs.