It all starts in PT school: The impact of peer to peer mentoring on student confidence to become a clinical instructor


In Physical Therapy (PT) education, peer teaching and learning and peer mentorship are seen as valuable tools benefiting the profession and aiding in student learning (1-3). Mentorship roles contribute to the profession and are consistent with future responsibilities physical therapists have as clinical instructors (CI) (4,5). Currently, few PT curricula offer formal mentor training and little to no studies exist that investigate the effect on students following these training programs (3). The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of a structured peer mentor training program on experienced students in their third and final professional year (PY3) in a Doctor of PT curriculum.


This study was a quasi-experimental design completed in NY in an entry level PT program comprised of 3 professional years (PY1-PY3). PY3 students were trained, through four, 45 minute interactive lectures, on how to act as positive mentors for novice PY1 students. Sessions focused on: communication skills, giving and receiving feedback, passion for the profession, fostering a professional relationship, establishing goals and expectations, conflict resolution, and transitioning into the clinical role (6-11). PY1 students attended sessions 2 and 4 to allow PY3 students to apply mentor skills developed throughout the program and establish a relationship. Peer teaching and learning was further utilized, as seven fellow PY3 students reviewed the literature on effective mentoring and led the training sessions. Surveys were completed by PY3 students prior to initiating the training program and immediately following the final training session. Questions examined self-perceived qualities as an effective mentor, confidence to be an effective mentor and confidence to be a CI. Paired t-tests were used to analyze data (alpha <.05).


23 PY3 student mentors attended all 4 training sessions and 100% completed the pre and post surveys. One student was not included in the survey results, as this participant completed less than 3 training sessions. A significant improvement in perceived confidence of PY3 students to be an effective CI was observed (p=0.036). Improvement in perceived possession of effective mentor qualities demonstrated a trend towards significance (p=0.073). Confidence to be an effective mentor showed a nonsignificant improvement (p=0.162).

Conclusions/Relevance to the conference theme: The Pursuit of Excellence in Physical Therapy Education

Survey results support the overall success of a structured peer mentor training program. PY3 students’ self-reported increase in confidence to be an effective CI may potentially increase the likelihood of embracing this role as a professional. Possessing qualities of an effective mentor may create a more well-rounded student and future clinician. This study can prompt future educational research exploring peer mentor training programs and their immediate and long term effects on experienced and novice students in PT curricula.


1. Youdas JW, Hoffarth BL, Kohlwey SR, Kramer CM, Petro JL. Peer teaching among physical therapy students during gross anatomy: perceptions of peer teachers and students. Anat Sci Educ. 2008;1(5):199-206.
2. Secomb J. A systematic review of peer teaching and learning in clinical education. J Clin Nurs. 2008;17(6):703-16.
3. Quesnel M, King J, Guilcher S, Evans C. The knowledge, attitudes and practices of Canadian master of physical therapy students regarding peer mentorship. Physiother Can. 2012;64:65-76.
4. Black LL, Jensen GM, Mostrom E, et al. The first year of practice: and investigation of professional learning and development of promising novice physical therapists. Phys Ther. 2010;90(12):1758-1773.
5. American Physical Therapy Association. Guidelines: Clinical Instructors. Published 2009. Accessed March 5, 2015.
6. Plack M, Driscoll M. Teaching and Learning in Physical Therapy from Classroom to Clinic. Thorofare, NJ: Slack Inc; 2011.
7. American Physical Therapy Association. Professionalism in Physical Therapy: Core Values. Published May 2004. Updated December 2009. Accessed March 5, 2015.
8. Zerzan JT, Hess R, Schur E, Phillips RS, Rigotti N. Making the most of mentors: a guide for mentees. Academic Med. 2009;84(1):140-144.
9. Ezzat AM, Maly MR. Building passion develops meaningful mentoring relationships among Canadian physiotherapists. Physiother Can. 2012;64(1):77-85.
10. Ytreberg B, Aars M. Emotions in true peer teaching and learning: Physiotherapy students’ experiences. Eur J Physiother. 2015;17(1):9-18.
11. Allen TD, Poteet ML. Developing effective mentoring relationships: strategies from the mentor’s viewpoint. Career Dev Q. 1999;48:59-71.

BACK to Abstract Results

  • Control #: 2507011
  • Type: Platforms
  • Event/Year: ELC2016
  • Authors: Dr. Jill Mayer, Mark Vorensky
  • Keywords:

BACK to Abstract Results