Factors Influencing the Decision to Apply to a Postprofessional Physical Therapist Residency Program
Purpose/Hypothesis: To identify the most important factors influencing the decision to apply to and attend a physical therapist postprofessional residency program (PTPRP). Number of Subjects: 429 Materials and Methods: The authors developed an online survey based on existing research, input from APTA staff, and focus groups of graduating PT students and postprofessional residents. APTA staff sent an email link to the survey to all PTs who graduated from an accredited PTPRP within the last 10 years. All responses were anonymous. There were 14 items addressing the extent to which respondents agreed with statements of belief in factors influencing the decision to apply to and attend a PTPRP. Level of agreement was marked strongly agree=4, agree=3, disagree=2, and strongly disagree=1. To determine relative importance of the factors, we calculated mean scores and ranked the items. Results: Programs completed by respondents were 51% Orthopedic, 14 % Sports, 13% Neurology, 9% Pediatrics, 7% Geriatrics and 1.4% Cardiopulmonary. Respondents were 35% male and 93% entered with a DPT. Respondents more strongly agreed with the following beliefs concerning participating in residency programs: #1 “it would help me to achieve excellence as a physical therapist” (3.83), # 2 “the best time to enroll was within one year of graduation” (3.66), #3 “it would give me access to knowledge not available through an entry-level PT program” (3.60), #4 “completing a PTRP would make me more attractive to employers”(3.52), # 5 “ I needed additional formal clinical training/mentorship beyond what I received in my professional (entry-level) program and my employment experiences to prepare me for independent practice in an area of specialty” (3.5), #6 “I was well prepared to practice as a PT (3.19), #7 “I needed additional formal didactic education beyond what I received in my professional (entry-level) program to prepare me for independent practice in an area of specialty practice (3.15), Conclusions: Our findings indicate the strongest factor motivating the decision to apply to a PTPRP was the desire to achieve excellence as a PT, and respondents believed that the best time to enroll in a PTPRP was within one year of graduation. While respondents generally believed that they were well prepared to practice as PTs when they graduated from entry-level programs, they also believed that they needed additional knowledge, clinical training and didactic information to practice in a specialty area. Those beliefs appeared to motivate entering a PTPRP. Clinical Relevance: Factors influencing the decision to participate in PTRP is of particular interest to programs recruiting residents, in order to make their programs more appealing to applicants. Entry-level PT programs should be aware that students feel they need additional formal clinical training and didactic education beyond what they received in their professional entry-level program and employment experiences to be prepared for independent practice in a specialty area. Entry-level PT programs may consider this information and adjust their curriculum accordingly.