Leadership in Physical Therapy: The Missing Link
Purpose/Hypothesis: The purposes of this study are to: (1) Determine what residency experiences were most influential in a therapist’s decision to assume a leadership role (2) Identify reasons why physical therapists join ABPTRFE accredited residency programs and if these reasons change post-residency. We investigated the hypothesis that the mentorship component of a residency program is the most influential factor in graduates’ decisions to assume leadership roles. Our operational definition of a leader is: (1) Clinical Educator (faculty member in a residency, fellowship program, continuing education provider) (2) Professional Involvement (committee involvement in APTA) (3) Entrepreneurial activities (business or managerial position). Number of Subjects: 213 Materials and Methods: A 10-item questionnaire was developed and was available May 7, 2018 to July 16, 2018 via SurveyMonkey. ABPTRFE and DPT program directors were contacted to share our survey with their alumni. The questionnaire included questions regarding: 1) reasons for participating in a residency 2) relationship between residency and leadership 3) residency influence. Analysis:The questionnaires from those residency graduates were analyzed. Data was composed on how many past residents identified themselves as leaders or non-leaders. We then analyzed what components of residency (ranked 1 to 6 in order of importance) were most influential in the residents’ decision to assume a leadership role. Finally, we assessed whether a residents’ decision for joining residency changed from the beginning and at the end of the program based on the same ranking question. Results: Participant demographic breakdown included 14% residency graduates, 15% residency & fellowship graduates, 29% fellowship graduates, 42% all other continuing education. 90% participants self-identified as leaders and 10% participants self-identified as non-leader based on our operational definition of leader. Forty-five percent of residency graduates chose mentorship as the number one most influential component for assuming a leadership role. Eight-five percent of resident graduates stated ‘yes’ they believed participation in residency had an influence in pursuing a leadership role. Conclusions: Mentorship was instrumental for residents assuming a leadership role and was the main reason PTs join residency. Causation for completing a residency and assuming a leadership role cannot be implied due to the retrospective design and the disproportionate number of self-identified leaders vs. non-leaders in this study. Performing a retrospective study based on leadership status to look at background/demographics would be beneficial in future research. Limitations of the study: most respondents were leaders and survey self-selection bias may have been present. Thus, leadership criteria may be too broad. The study’s focus is more towards clinical leaders rather than operational leadership. Clinical Relevance: ABPTRFE requires 150 hours of mentorship throughout residency. The mentorship residents receive may be associated with why residents take on more leadership roles.