Enhancing the Connectedness between Undergraduate Students, Faculty and the Dpt Program within the Same Institution
Purpose: It is advantageous to attract undergraduate (UG) students to the Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program of the same institution. To date, no one has examined variables that increase the likelihood of UG students attending the DPT program at their alma mater. This action research attempted to examine UG student and faculty awareness of the DPT program within the same respective institution, perform a needs assessment, and create resources to facilitate enhancement of the connectedness between the UG and graduate programs. The ultimate goal is equipping UG students with resources to assist with successful application to the institution’s DPT program. Description: Action research and qualitative methodologies for data collection and analysis were used. Participants included UG students interested in pursuing physical therapy as a career, UG faculty in the main DPT feeder programs (Science and Kinesiology) and current DPT students that attended the University as an UG student. Total number of participants included 44 students and 11 faculty. Electronic surveys and focus groups with open and closed ended questions were conducted to investigate participant’s knowledge of the DPT program, resources available, and specific needs. Qualitative data was inductively coded and themes were generated. Qualitative themes found that nearly half (N=20) of the students had no knowledge, resources or information on the DPT program and students and faculty alike desired enhanced resources on admissions, pre-requisite courses, student mentoring, open houses, informational meetings, and enhanced electronic resources. Summary of Use: Three main resources are being developed based on the results. The first is a committee of DPT students, overseen by DPT faculty, who create opportunities for UG students interested in pursuing physical therapy. This would allow consistent connection of undergrad students to the DPT program through DPT student to UG student mentoring, information sessions, and participation of UG students in DPT course observation and service projects. The second, is marketing about physical therapy and the DPT program through scrolling information on University electronic communications boards and social media pages. The final, is an enhanced DPT Program Resource Guide that provides program overview, admission requirements, application process summary, and unique features. All three resources are intended to be ongoing and sustainable through continual reassessment and will be modified based on identified UG student needs and interests. Future research will determine the effectiveness of these changes on increasing student enrollment from the home institution. Importance to Members: This project utilized action research to assess the needs of UG students and faculty and further created and implement resources to assist and improve University connections. This work is transferable to other institutions that may have similarly identified needs to increase retention of students within the institution. This may apply to both newly developed and established programs.