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Faculty Bio
Nicole Christensen
PT, PhD, MAppSc

I am an Associate Professor and Co-Chair of the Department of Physical Therapy.  I have taught physical therapy at Samuel Merritt University since 2006. My area of expertise and scholarship is the facilitation of clinical reasoning development in learners at all professional levels. This passion has extended to the mentoring of others, focused on effective teaching and faciliation of learning of clinical reasoning in both academic and clinical education settings--clinical reasoning characterized by collaboration, person centeredness, and a commitment to intentional critical reflection. I have been a practicing physical therapist in the musculoskeletal setting for over 25 years, taught at the entry level since 1994 and have been involved in post-professional physical therapy residency and fellowship education since 2000. 

Education

I earned my B.A. in Biological Sciences at San Jose State University, with a Minor in Humanities. I then began my education in physical therapy at the University of California San Francisco where I earned a B.S and Certificate. I travelled to Adelaide, South Australia to earn my Master of Applied Science in Manipulative Physiotherapy at the University of South Australia. I earned a PhD in Health Sciences at the University of South Australia, with a research focus on clinical reasoning and education. Most recently I completed the American Physical Therapy Association's Educational Leadership Institute (ELI) Fellowship Program, and became an ELI Fellow in 2014. 

Teaching Interest
  • Clinical reasoning
  • Narrative reasoning and collaborative person-centered care
  • Integration of pain science into clinical reasoning
  • Mentoring
  • Simulation/standardized patients
  • Professional Entry-Level Education of Physical Therapists
  • Residency and Fellowship Education of Physical Therapists
  • Qualitative research
Courses Taught

Since 2006 I have taught in the SMU DPT program. The courses I currently coordinate and teach include:
Patient Client Management: Musculoskeletal I, II, and III.
 

Research Biography

My doctoral research and subsequent research activity has focused on the teaching and learning of clinical reasoning in physical therapists. Currently I am involved in collaborative research projects examining clinical reasoning curriculum in entry level physical therapist education throughout the USA, clinical reasoning development in residency education, and mentoring in residency education.

Peer Reviewed Publications

Book editor:

  • Higgs J, Jones M, Loftus S, Christensen NClinical Reasoning in the Health Professions, 3rd ed. Amsterdam: Elsevier-Butterworth-Heinemann; 2008. 

  Peer-Reviewed Publications:

  • Hoeger Bement MK, St Marie BJ, Nordstrom TM, Christensen N, Mongoven JM, Koebner IJ, Fishman SM, Sluka KA. An interprofessional consensus of core competencies for prelicensure education in pain management: curriculum application for physical therapy. Phys Ther 2014; 94(4):451-465.
  • Christensen N, Black L, Jensen G. Physiotherapy clinical placements and learning to reason. In: Higgs J, Sheehan D, Baldry-Currens J,  Letts W, Jensen G. Realising Exemplary Practice-Based Education. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers, 2013:135-142.
  • Christensen N, Nordstrom T. Facilitating the teaching and learning of clinical reasoning. In: Jensen G, Mostrom E, Shepard K. Handbook of Teaching for Physical Therapists, 3rd ed. St. Louis, MO: Elsevier-Butterworth-Heinemann; 2013:183-199.
  • Christensen N. Student physical therapists’ understanding and learning of clinical reasoning. [Abstract]. Physiother. 201197, Supplement S1. 
  • Christensen N, Jones M, Edwards I.  Clinical reasoning and Evidence-based practice. Orthopaedic Section Independent Study Course ISC 21.2, Current Concepts of Orthopaedic Physical Therapy, 3rd Edition. La Crosse, WI.: Orthopaedic Section, APTA, Inc.; 2011.
  • Bithell C, Bowles W, Christensen N. Issues in design and management of fieldwork education. In: McAllister L, Paterson M, Higgs J, Bithell C (eds.): Innovations in Allied Health Fieldwork Education: A Critical Appraisal. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers; 2010:61-74.
  • Christensen N, Jones M, Edwards I, Higgs J. Helping physiotherapy students develop clinical reasoning capability. In: Higgs J, Jones M, Loftus S, Christensen N (eds.): Clinical Reasoning in the Health Professions, 3rd ed. Amsterdam: Elsevier-Butterworth-Heinemann; 2008:389-396.
  • Christensen N, Jones M, Higgs J, Edwards I. The development of clinical reasoning capability. In: Higgs J, Jones M, Loftus S, Christensen N (eds.): Clinical Reasoning in the Health Professions, 3rd ed. Amsterdam:. Elsevier-Butterworth-Heinemann; 2008:101-110.
  • Christensen N, Jones MA. Clinical Reasoning and Evidence-based Practice.  Home Study Course 16.2: Current Concepts of Orthopaedic Physical Therapy. La Crosse, WI: Orthopaedic Section, APTA, Inc.; 2006.
  • Christensen N, Jones M, Edwards I. Clinical reasoning in the diagnosis and management of spinal pain. In: Boyling JD, Jull GA (eds.): Grieve’s Modern Manual Therapy: The vertebral column, 3rd ed. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone; 2004:391-404.
  • Christensen, N, Jones, MA, Carr J. Clinical Reasoning in Orthopaedic Manual Therapy.  In:  Grant, R. (Ed.):  Physical Therapy of the Cervical and Thoracic Spine, 3rd ed.  New York, NY: Churchill Livingstone; 2002: 85-104.
  • Jones, MA, Christensen, N, Carr J. Clinical Reasoning in Orthopaedic Manual Therapy.  In:  Grant R (Ed):  Physical Therapy of the Cervical and Thoracic Spine, 2nd ed.  New York, NY: Churchill Livingstone; 1994: 89-108.
Peer Reviewed National & International Presentations
  • Christensen N, Black L, Jensen G, Gwyer J, Dore D. Clinical Reasoning As A Learning Trajectory: Intentional Integration From Entry‐Level to Residency Education.  Presentation at the Combined Sections Meeting of the American Physical Therapy Association. Las Vegas, NV. Presented February 6, 2014.
  • Christensen N, Black L, Jensen G. Clinical reasoning: Explicit strategies for making the invisible visible. Presentation at the Combined Sections Meeting of the American Physical Therapy Association. San Diego, CA. Presented January 23, 2013.
  • Christensen N. Student Physical Therapists’ Understanding and Learning of Clinical Reasoning. Platform Presentation, World Physical Therapy 2011, World Confederation for Physical Therapy (WCPT) Conference, Amsterdam, Netherlands; 2011.
  • Nordstrom T, Christensen N. Integrating Clinical Reasoning and Ethical Reasoning in Physical Therapist Entry-Level Education. Presentation at the Combined Sections Meeting of the American Physical Therapy Association. Las Vegas, NV. Presented February 12, 2009.
Grants & Fellowships
  • American Physical Therapy Association's Educational Leadership Institute Fellowship Program 2013-2014.  


 

Invited Presentations
  • Clinical Mentoring: Facilitating Learning From Reasoning in Practice. Annual UCSF/SFSU & SMU CCCE Meeting. Samuel Merritt University, Oakland, CA. March 27, 2013.
  • Mentoring: Facilitating Optimal Learning in Practice. Workshop for Children’s Hospital Los Angeles Pediatric Physical Therapy Residency Program and University of Southern California Orthopedic Physical Therapy Residency Program Faculty. University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA. October 27th, 2012.
  • Professional Mentoring Development. Workshop for Neurological Physical Therapy Residency Consortium Program Directors. University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA. July 29, 2012
  • Professional Mentoring Development: Follow-up Workshop. Workshop for Kaiser Permanente Neurological Physical Therapy Residency Program and Kaiser Vallejo PNF Program Faculty Mentors. Samuel Merritt University, Oakland, CA. June 23, 2012
  • Clinical Mentoring to Promote Learning Of and From Clinical Reasoning. Workshop for Kaiser Permanente Neurological Physical Therapy Residency Program. Samuel Merritt University, Oakland, CA. July 9th, 2011.
  • Introduction to Clinical Reasoning and Strategies for Facilitating Clinical Reasoning in the Clinical Setting. Annual UCSF/SFSU & SMU CCCE Meeting. Samuel Merritt University, Oakland, CA. April 19, 2011
  • Introduction to Clinical Reasoning; Clinical reasoning and pain. St. Jude’s Rehabilitation Center Residency Program. Brea, CA. July 12, 2009
  • Clinical Reasoning Series. MVP Physical Therapy Residency Program. Tacoma, WA. July 31, September 11, & October 9, 2008
  • Clinical Reasoning in Health Professions Education: Exploring the concept and context of clinical reasoning in practice. Faculty Development Workshop (core, adjunct, and clinical faculty attendees). Samuel Merritt College, August 28th, 2006.
  • 18th Annual CEF/IACCC Clinical Education Workshop: Facilitating Clinical Reasoning in the Clinical Setting. Mount St. Mary’s College, Los Angeles, CA. June 17, 1997. 
Professional and Community Service and Professional Memberships

 

  • American Physical Therapy Association, Orthopaedic and Education Sections
  • American Academy of Orthopaedic Manual Physical Therapists
  • American Council of Academic Physical Therapy, Clinical Reasoning Consortium
  • American Board of Physical Therapy Residency and Fellowship Education Mentoring Task Force member, authors of The Mentoring Resource Manual 2014.
  • Peer reviewer for:
    • ​Physical Therapy Journal
    • Journal of Physical Therapy Education
    • Manual Therapy
    • Physical Therapy Reviews

Contact Info

Name
Nicole Christensen
PT, PhD, MAppSc
Title
Associate Professor and Co-Chair
Department
Doctor of Physical Therapy
Email

Faculty Profile

Nicole Christensen
Nicole
Christensen
PT, PhD, MAppSc
Associate Professor and Co-Chair
Doctor of Physical Therapy
nchristensen@samuelmerritt.edu
510-869-6511

I am an Associate Professor and Co-Chair of the Department of Physical Therapy.  I have taught physical therapy at Samuel Merritt University since 2006. My area of expertise and scholarship is the facilitation of clinical reasoning development in learners at all professional levels. This passion has extended to the mentoring of others, focused on effective teaching and faciliation of learning of clinical reasoning in both academic and clinical education settings--clinical reasoning characterized by collaboration, person centeredness, and a commitment to intentional critical reflection. I have been a practicing physical therapist in the musculoskeletal setting for over 25 years, taught at the entry level since 1994 and have been involved in post-professional physical therapy residency and fellowship education since 2000. 

I earned my B.A. in Biological Sciences at San Jose State University, with a Minor in Humanities. I then began my education in physical therapy at the University of California San Francisco where I earned a B.S and Certificate. I travelled to Adelaide, South Australia to earn my Master of Applied Science in Manipulative Physiotherapy at the University of South Australia. I earned a PhD in Health Sciences at the University of South Australia, with a research focus on clinical reasoning and education. Most recently I completed the American Physical Therapy Association's Educational Leadership Institute (ELI) Fellowship Program, and became an ELI Fellow in 2014. 

  • Clinical reasoning
  • Narrative reasoning and collaborative person-centered care
  • Integration of pain science into clinical reasoning
  • Mentoring
  • Simulation/standardized patients
  • Professional Entry-Level Education of Physical Therapists
  • Residency and Fellowship Education of Physical Therapists
  • Qualitative research

Since 2006 I have taught in the SMU DPT program. The courses I currently coordinate and teach include:
Patient Client Management: Musculoskeletal I, II, and III.
 

My doctoral research and subsequent research activity has focused on the teaching and learning of clinical reasoning in physical therapists. Currently I am involved in collaborative research projects examining clinical reasoning curriculum in entry level physical therapist education throughout the USA, clinical reasoning development in residency education, and mentoring in residency education.

Book editor:

  • Higgs J, Jones M, Loftus S, Christensen NClinical Reasoning in the Health Professions, 3rd ed. Amsterdam: Elsevier-Butterworth-Heinemann; 2008. 

  Peer-Reviewed Publications:

  • Hoeger Bement MK, St Marie BJ, Nordstrom TM, Christensen N, Mongoven JM, Koebner IJ, Fishman SM, Sluka KA. An interprofessional consensus of core competencies for prelicensure education in pain management: curriculum application for physical therapy. Phys Ther 2014; 94(4):451-465.
  • Christensen N, Black L, Jensen G. Physiotherapy clinical placements and learning to reason. In: Higgs J, Sheehan D, Baldry-Currens J,  Letts W, Jensen G. Realising Exemplary Practice-Based Education. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers, 2013:135-142.
  • Christensen N, Nordstrom T. Facilitating the teaching and learning of clinical reasoning. In: Jensen G, Mostrom E, Shepard K. Handbook of Teaching for Physical Therapists, 3rd ed. St. Louis, MO: Elsevier-Butterworth-Heinemann; 2013:183-199.
  • Christensen N. Student physical therapists’ understanding and learning of clinical reasoning. [Abstract]. Physiother. 201197, Supplement S1. 
  • Christensen N, Jones M, Edwards I.  Clinical reasoning and Evidence-based practice. Orthopaedic Section Independent Study Course ISC 21.2, Current Concepts of Orthopaedic Physical Therapy, 3rd Edition. La Crosse, WI.: Orthopaedic Section, APTA, Inc.; 2011.
  • Bithell C, Bowles W, Christensen N. Issues in design and management of fieldwork education. In: McAllister L, Paterson M, Higgs J, Bithell C (eds.): Innovations in Allied Health Fieldwork Education: A Critical Appraisal. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers; 2010:61-74.
  • Christensen N, Jones M, Edwards I, Higgs J. Helping physiotherapy students develop clinical reasoning capability. In: Higgs J, Jones M, Loftus S, Christensen N (eds.): Clinical Reasoning in the Health Professions, 3rd ed. Amsterdam: Elsevier-Butterworth-Heinemann; 2008:389-396.
  • Christensen N, Jones M, Higgs J, Edwards I. The development of clinical reasoning capability. In: Higgs J, Jones M, Loftus S, Christensen N (eds.): Clinical Reasoning in the Health Professions, 3rd ed. Amsterdam:. Elsevier-Butterworth-Heinemann; 2008:101-110.
  • Christensen N, Jones MA. Clinical Reasoning and Evidence-based Practice.  Home Study Course 16.2: Current Concepts of Orthopaedic Physical Therapy. La Crosse, WI: Orthopaedic Section, APTA, Inc.; 2006.
  • Christensen N, Jones M, Edwards I. Clinical reasoning in the diagnosis and management of spinal pain. In: Boyling JD, Jull GA (eds.): Grieve’s Modern Manual Therapy: The vertebral column, 3rd ed. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone; 2004:391-404.
  • Christensen, N, Jones, MA, Carr J. Clinical Reasoning in Orthopaedic Manual Therapy.  In:  Grant, R. (Ed.):  Physical Therapy of the Cervical and Thoracic Spine, 3rd ed.  New York, NY: Churchill Livingstone; 2002: 85-104.
  • Jones, MA, Christensen, N, Carr J. Clinical Reasoning in Orthopaedic Manual Therapy.  In:  Grant R (Ed):  Physical Therapy of the Cervical and Thoracic Spine, 2nd ed.  New York, NY: Churchill Livingstone; 1994: 89-108.
  • Christensen N, Black L, Jensen G, Gwyer J, Dore D. Clinical Reasoning As A Learning Trajectory: Intentional Integration From Entry‐Level to Residency Education.  Presentation at the Combined Sections Meeting of the American Physical Therapy Association. Las Vegas, NV. Presented February 6, 2014.
  • Christensen N, Black L, Jensen G. Clinical reasoning: Explicit strategies for making the invisible visible. Presentation at the Combined Sections Meeting of the American Physical Therapy Association. San Diego, CA. Presented January 23, 2013.
  • Christensen N. Student Physical Therapists’ Understanding and Learning of Clinical Reasoning. Platform Presentation, World Physical Therapy 2011, World Confederation for Physical Therapy (WCPT) Conference, Amsterdam, Netherlands; 2011.
  • Nordstrom T, Christensen N. Integrating Clinical Reasoning and Ethical Reasoning in Physical Therapist Entry-Level Education. Presentation at the Combined Sections Meeting of the American Physical Therapy Association. Las Vegas, NV. Presented February 12, 2009.
  • American Physical Therapy Association's Educational Leadership Institute Fellowship Program 2013-2014.  


 

  • Clinical Mentoring: Facilitating Learning From Reasoning in Practice. Annual UCSF/SFSU & SMU CCCE Meeting. Samuel Merritt University, Oakland, CA. March 27, 2013.
  • Mentoring: Facilitating Optimal Learning in Practice. Workshop for Children’s Hospital Los Angeles Pediatric Physical Therapy Residency Program and University of Southern California Orthopedic Physical Therapy Residency Program Faculty. University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA. October 27th, 2012.
  • Professional Mentoring Development. Workshop for Neurological Physical Therapy Residency Consortium Program Directors. University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA. July 29, 2012
  • Professional Mentoring Development: Follow-up Workshop. Workshop for Kaiser Permanente Neurological Physical Therapy Residency Program and Kaiser Vallejo PNF Program Faculty Mentors. Samuel Merritt University, Oakland, CA. June 23, 2012
  • Clinical Mentoring to Promote Learning Of and From Clinical Reasoning. Workshop for Kaiser Permanente Neurological Physical Therapy Residency Program. Samuel Merritt University, Oakland, CA. July 9th, 2011.
  • Introduction to Clinical Reasoning and Strategies for Facilitating Clinical Reasoning in the Clinical Setting. Annual UCSF/SFSU & SMU CCCE Meeting. Samuel Merritt University, Oakland, CA. April 19, 2011
  • Introduction to Clinical Reasoning; Clinical reasoning and pain. St. Jude’s Rehabilitation Center Residency Program. Brea, CA. July 12, 2009
  • Clinical Reasoning Series. MVP Physical Therapy Residency Program. Tacoma, WA. July 31, September 11, & October 9, 2008
  • Clinical Reasoning in Health Professions Education: Exploring the concept and context of clinical reasoning in practice. Faculty Development Workshop (core, adjunct, and clinical faculty attendees). Samuel Merritt College, August 28th, 2006.
  • 18th Annual CEF/IACCC Clinical Education Workshop: Facilitating Clinical Reasoning in the Clinical Setting. Mount St. Mary’s College, Los Angeles, CA. June 17, 1997. 

 

  • American Physical Therapy Association, Orthopaedic and Education Sections
  • American Academy of Orthopaedic Manual Physical Therapists
  • American Council of Academic Physical Therapy, Clinical Reasoning Consortium
  • American Board of Physical Therapy Residency and Fellowship Education Mentoring Task Force member, authors of The Mentoring Resource Manual 2014.
  • Peer reviewer for:
    • ​Physical Therapy Journal
    • Journal of Physical Therapy Education
    • Manual Therapy
    • Physical Therapy Reviews

History

Member for
8 years 7 months