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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