Engaging, Inspiring and Developing Physical Therapist Students into Leaders: Perceptions of Current Efforts
Purpose: To describe current efforts and perceived barriers to providing leadership development of physical therapist students. Methods/Description: Efforts to develop students into future leaders is reported to occur at many levels, including the institution, the clinic and the profession.1,2,3, 4 The ACAPT Student Leadership Development Task Force (SLD) was created in 2017 as a subgroup to the ACAPT Leadership Academy to “identify ways to target students with leadership activities”. The initial efforts led to the development of a survey in collaboration with the APTA Private Practice Section to explore current efforts in physical therapist education programs with regard to leadership development. In addition, the task force held a forum at the Educational Leadership Conference in October of 2018, to gain insight into current practices by physical therapy programs, faculty, and clinicians to develop student physical therapists into leaders. This was followed by distribution of the survey to clinicians, students and faculty, for further insight. The forum responses underwent open coding and categorization into themes, and the survey responses were analyzed using descriptive statistics. Results/Outcomes: Approximately 43 individuals participated in the open forums. Responses demonstrated that efforts to develop leaders occurred at the university, association, and clinical level, primarily in the areas of advocacy, conference attendance, clinician development, coursework, and mentoring. Gaps in efforts knowledge about development efforts were identified, as well as the barriers of time and money. 152 faculty, 267 physical therapist students and 111 early career professionals responded to the survey. The majority of all groups reported that their programs supported leadership development opportunities for students. Faculty reported financial support and time away from classes as methods of support more frequently than students (57.6% vs. 29.1% and 64.2% vs. 36.2% respectively). Survey results also indicated that students and faculty differed in their opinion of how much of the curriculum was related to the following topics: Business or Insurance contract negotiations, Financial Management, PT Value Marketing, and Management. Conclusions/Relevance to the conference theme: Current leadership development efforts of physical therapist education programs include support for participation in conferences and advocacy, as well coursework. Perceptions of faculty and students differ with regard to the types support and topics included. Understanding current efforts, perceived barriers, and outcomes may help develop curricula and co-curricular activities for leadership development.