Do physical therapist employers, faculty, and clinical instructors have the same expectations of new DPT graduates in outpatient practice?
Purpose/Hypothesis : The purpose of this exploratory study was to determine the opinion of importance of entry-level expectations of new Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) graduates from the perspective of academic (PTF) and clinical faculty (CI), and employer (PTE) stakeholders in the outpatient practice setting. Entry-level expectations or preferences of newly graduated physical therapists have been reported in the literature. Little research has been done to demonstrate preparedness of DPT graduates as they enter the workforce in any practice setting.Number of Subjects : Study participants were PT academic faculty, final experience clinical instructors, and PT employers in the outpatient practice setting. Four hundred fifty-two individuals met the inclusion criteria for respective participant groups: 157 PTFs, 109 PTEs, and 186 CIs. The survey completion rate was 98%.Materials/Methods : A consensus list of 25 entryÐlevel characteristics previously developed through a Delphi process with academic faculty, employers, and clinical instructors in the adult, acute rehabilitation practice setting was used for this study. A link to an electronic survey was distributed to all participants via e-mail. Survey responses were collected through SurveyMonkey¨. Participants were asked to rate the importance of the entry-level characteristics from Ôvery unimportantÕ to Ôvery importantÕ and provide justification for ÔunimportantÕ ratings.Results : Of the 25 entry-level characteristics rated by study participants, ethics, integrity, safety and reliability demonstrated greater than 80% combined agreement across the 3 groups for being Ôvery importantÕ. Seven characteristics demonstrated between 70-80% agreement with the remaining 14 characteristics demonstrating less than 70% agreement across the 3 groups for Ôvery importantÕ. Significant differences in importance ratings between the 3 groups was demonstrated in 7 of the 25 characteristics, with 3 of the 7 characteristics in the highest combined importance rating group (ethics, integrity, and safety).Conclusions : Eleven entry-level characteristics demonstrated greater than 70% combined stakeholder importance ratings despite differences in importance opinion across stakeholders for some of the same entry-level characteristics in outpatient practice. Justifications were not provided for any of the characteristics with the highest combined importance rating that also demonstrated significant differences in importance rating. Differences in participant opinion may stem from interpretation of characteristic definitions or the unique perspective of stakeholders in the preparation of new graduate for entry-level practice.Clinical Relevance : The PT profession has called for change in clinical education to better prepare newly graduated PTs for entry-level practice. Investigation of clinical education models and outcomes involves developing a common understanding and consensus of entry-level practice and expectations by key stakeholders in various practice settings, including outpatient practice.