Are we there yet? Is academia and clinical education adequately preparing students for the leap to employment?


Determine if DPT education is meeting employers’ expectations when preparing students for the work force. Importance of entry-level expectations of physical therapy faculty (PTF), clinical instructors (CIs), & PT employers (PTEs), in the acute care (AC), inpatient rehabilitation (IR) & outpatient settings (OP) was compared. A Delphi study was used to determine characteristics that described entry-level expectations of new graduate from the perspective of PTF, CIs & PTEs in IR. Subsequent studies were conducted in AC & OP to determine if consensus for the characteristics existed between the 3 stakeholder groups.


Purposive sampling was used to recruit participants. CAPTE accredited DPT faculty were asked to complete the survey. PT employers & CIs were recruited from CARF accredited IR facilities. OP & AC surveys used combined lists from the authors’ universities to recruit employers & CIs. A 4 round Delphi study determined the initial list of entry-level characteristics & participants’ developed definitions. Consensus of importance of expectations at entry-level was determined by participants in the IR setting. The AC & OP surveys used the top 25 characteristics from the Delphi study to determine consensus of importance for entry-level.


Sixty-eight (68) participants completed 4 Delphi rounds. The AC survey had 399 (128 PTF, 206 CIs, 65 PTEs) participants; the OP survey had 455 (158 PTF, 189 CIs, 108 PTEs) participants. Seven of the top 25 entry-level characteristics met > 70% consensus of importance in all 3 practice settings: safe, ethical, recognition of red flags, integrity, reliable, responsible, & respectful. Significant differences between group ratings of 3 entry-level characteristics were evident in the AC & OP; recognition of red flags, critical thinker & team player. In AC 83% of PTF & 76% of CIs valued recognition of red flags, while only 63% of PTEs did; 77% of PTEs valued team player, while only 58% PTF & 61% of CIs did. CIs assigned a low value to critical thinking (51%), while 61% PTEs & 69% PTF valued it. Similar differences are seen in OP. PTF and CIs respectively assigned 84% and 80% value to recognition of red flags, while PTEs assigned 71%. Team player was valued by 59% of PTF, 66% of CIs & 78% of PTEs. Critical thinking was valued by 77% of PTF, 64% of PTEs & 60% of CIs. In IR major differences were seen in safety (PTF 100%, PTEs 86%, and CIs 80%). Team player was valued by 50% of PTF, 67% of CIs & 86% of PTEs.

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

Considerations of the employers who hire new graduates must be considered when developing curriculum. This study looked at a comparison of IR, AC & OP, CIs & employers to determine if expectations are consistent across the 3 settings. The results show there are some differences in expectations of employers among the 3 settings that should be considered as curriculum continue to develop in the changing healthcare arena.


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  • Control #: 2288661
  • Type: Posters
  • Event/Year: ELC2015
  • Authors: Dr. Claudia Gazsi, Leah Nof, Shari Rone-Adams, Dr. Debra Stern
  • Keywords:

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