Implementing a mixed-methods analytical approach to admissions in physical therapy education


The purpose of this educational session is to discuss core components and typical processes of admission to physical therapy education programs while highlighting the utility of interviews as a means of non-cognitive assessment of applicants.

Methods and/or Description of Project

This educational session will involve a multi-delivery format to discuss admissions processes into physical therapy education programs. According to PTCAS, only 57% of physical therapy education programs currently conduct applicant interviews as a component of their admissions process. Recent discussions among ACAPT have involved admissions and interviewing. However, there has been no recent formal presentations and discussion outlets to the widespread physical therapy education community. As a doctoring healthcare profession, it is not only important to identify applicants who have demonstrated strong academic achievement, but who also display the ability to translate their academic success in the rigorous professional curriculum while embodying the professional and affective behaviors necessary to represent the physical therapy profession and the individual institution from which the student will graduate.

This presentation and discussion will review current admission practices within physical therapy programs, with a focus on the importance of identifying applicants who possess the balance of cognitive and non-cognitive attributes that demonstrate they will successfully acclimate to a professional doctoral curriculum and become competent clinicians. Attendees will learn of a process that involves a full commitment to the interview as a means of a non-cognitive assessment of an applicant’s ability to not only meet the demands of physical therapy education, but who also are in alignment with the APTA core values and those associated with the institutional and programmatic mission.

Brief case studies will be integrated to display the process in use with rationales and procedures outlined to display the interaction between the faculty and alumni raters as well as the oversight of the program director and admissions committee. Case studies will also involve follow up on formative and summative student outcomes. Time will also be devoted to discuss cases, processes, assessments, through the session so that attendees can learn of several mechanisms to integrate effective use of admissions that meets the individual needs of their programs.


Attendees of this session will learn of the following:
current landscape of physical therapy admissions
importance of integrating noncognitive assessment of applicants
ideas for assessment of applicants appropriate for their individual programs
effective means for multi-dimensional assessment through interviewing applicants

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

This education session is aligned with the conference theme, The Pursuit of Excellence in Physical Therapy. Excellence in physical therapy education is multi-dimensional. As we train doctors of physical therapy, we need to focus education efforts on both traditional academic skill and knowledge, as well as professional traits. Traditional higher education admission typically does not focus on those professional traits, which are the pride of our profession. To move physical therapy education forward, educators should strive to not only instill these traits in their students during the PT curriculum, but also work to identify those applicants who demonstrate them through the admissions process. Further, this session is related to the subtheme on outcomes assessment. By working to identify those affective and professional behaviors in applicants, programs have the ability to demonstrate a closed loop process by tracking these behaviors “from beginning to end” instead of relying on the educational program to instill these sometimes inherent traits. Adding the focus to the “beginning” will demonstrate the institution’s commitment to these traits of the profession and specific institution.


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Course Objectives

The objectives of this session are as follows:
Discuss the current practice of admissions across institutions for physical therapy education

Identify potential pitfalls in considering applicants solely on the basis of quantitative academic scores

Highlight the importance and benefits of integrating interviews into the admissions process

Propose other possible methods of identifying critical traits and characteristics of applicants that will best represent the institution and physical therapy profession

Instructional Methods

This educational session will incorporate lecture presentation with small group discussion to meet the learning objectives. Case studies will be introduced as a method of demonstration to represent key concepts and constructs through the session.

Tentative Outline/Schedule

Overview of current physical therapy admissions process nationally
Review of literature including other health professions

Discussion regarding cognition versus non-cognition trait identification
Review challenges and barriers to implementing non-cognition assessments

Identify potential solutions and benefits to using these assessments

Targeted admission case-studies are reviewed to demonstrate key concepts

Outline future directions of research to assist physical therapy educators in selecting optimal admissions assessment tools

Open Group Discussion

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  • Control #: 2519874
  • Type: Educational Session
  • Event/Year: ELC2016
  • Authors: Nicole Dawson, Dr. Patrick Pabian, Samantha Moya
  • Keywords:

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