The Leadership Profile of Doctor of Physical Therapy Students


Leadership has been noted to be a necessary trait for healthcare professionals in an ever changing healthcare world.1-5 For many years, Fortune 500 businesses have understood that they have the best chance of delivering optimal services when they make intentional investments in developing individual leadership skills and an overall culture that suppports the vision and mission of the organization.2 Recently, healthcare systems have adopted this investment philosophy and have incorporated formal leadership training for employees in management positions. However, there is a lack of research investigating formal leadership training in healthcare entry level programs and a specific void of resources for Doctor of Physical Therapy Education programs. Investigating individual and group leadership profiles of Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) students can inform curricular development and outcomes of a focused leadership curriculum. The Leadership Practice Inventory (LPI) is a behavioral instrument that assesses the five leadership practices consistent with Kouzes and Posner’s Transformational Leadership Model. The LPI is recognized as having the highest rating for psychometric properties and ease of use.6,7 The aim of this project was to investigate leadership behaviors in Regis University DPT students to inform curricular development of a leadership thread.


The LPI was administered to 132 DPT students (68 students in the Class of 2015 and 64 students in the Class of 2016) after one year of academic study and one (6 week) clinical affiliation.


A 2X5 mixed model ANOVA revealed no significant difference (F=.64, p=.66) between class of 2015 and class of 2016 percentile rankings of self-perceived leadership skills in any of Kouzes and Posner’s 5 exemplary leadership practice categories. Results of a Friedman ANOVA (p<.0001) revealed significant differences in the percentile rankings of student perceived leadership skills between the 5 exemplary practice categories of the LPI. Student percentile rankings were significantly higher (p<.001), in the exemplary practices of Encouraging the Heart, and Enabling Others to Act when compared to the practices of Modeling the Way, Inspiring a Shared Vision and Challenging the Process.

Conclusions/Relevance to the conference theme: Shaping the Future of Physical Therapy Education

The results suggest that DPT students have leadership profiles similar to young leaders reported in other studies and professions. Therefore, physical therapy schools have the opportunity to develop a focused leadership curriculum that addresses the unique developmental needs of young student leaders in preparation for their future career in physical therapy.


1. Long PW, Spurgeon PC. Embedding leadership into regulatory, educational and professional standards. Int J Clin Leadersh. 2012;17(4):245–250.
2. National Center for Healthcare Leadership. National Healthcare Leadership Survey Implementation of Best Practices; 2011. National Center for Healthcare Leadership. Accessed March 30, 2015.
3. Wilson J, Collins J. Physical therapist student learning through authentic experiences in management: one program’s interpretation of service learning. J Phys Ther Educ. 2006;20(3):25–32.
4. Wicker T. Self-report of nursing leadership practice after completion of training [dissertation].Arizona:University of Arizona; 2008.
5. Gersh M. Servant-leadership: a philosophical foundation for professionalism in physical therapy. J Phys Ther Educ. 2006;20(2):12–16.
6. Tourangeau A, McGilton K. Measuring Leadership Practices of Nurses Using the Leadership Practices Inventory. Nurs Res May 2004. 2004;53(3):182–189.
7 Huber DL, Maas M, McCloskey J, Scherb CAM, Goode CJ, Watson C. Evaluating Nursing Administration Instruments. J Nurs Adm May 2000. 2000;30(5):251–272.

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  • Control #: 2277455
  • Type: Posters
  • Event/Year: ELC2015
  • Authors: Dr. Alice Davis, Dr. Heidi Eigsti
  • Keywords:

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