DPT Student Perceptions about Developing Mentoring Skills: A Progressive Model


Students in entry-level doctoral physical therapy (DPT) education must develop future practice and professional skills that include mentoring of students and employees. The purpose of this educational session is to present a progressive model for developing mentoring skills in DPT students within integrated clinical education courses during the first two years of an entry level program. Components of this model that will be addressed will include mentorship, professional duty, altruism and social responsibility. Additionally, the mentoring perceptions of DPT students who are actively involved in that learning process will be presented.

Methods and/or Description of Project

Students begin their clinical education experiences during the first month of the professional program through the Integrated Clinical Education (ICE) course series. Each student completes five part-time ICEs throughout the first and second years of the DPT curriculum. Attention to professional behavior development and our mentoring model begin in the first semester with peer mentoring between Year I and Year II students. There are progressive student expectations across the first two years of the program, especially in the areas of clinical skills, professional behavior, and mentoring.
First year students are paired with second year students to work with community participants in our Balance, Movement, and Wellness Center (BMW), a faculty supervised pro bono exercise program, and additional exercise programs conducted through community agencies serving youth at risk and individuals with developmental disabilities and acquired brain injuries. In each of these settings, the student dyad must deliver therapeutic exercise, assess vital signs, provide participant education, and complete documentation. The role of the Year II student is to observe, guide, mentor, and provide feedback to the Year I student during these experiences.
Through the use of the Mentor Characteristics / Skills, and Work /Organization Mentoring Culture Assessment (MCA) by Grossman and a focus group, the perceptions of Year II students involved in the development of mentoring skills were investigated. A purposeful sampling of students enrolled in the DPT Class of 2017 participated in this investigation. With voluntary participation of forty students from the class cohort, the MCA was administered. There was voluntary involvement for the focus group activity and there were five students recruited for this activity. The three parts of the MCA assess the perception of what makes a good mentor, what determines a person’s ability to mentor, and what it takes to facilitate a mentoring culture at a work setting or organization. The focus group addressed specific information about the mentoring program within our ICE course series and the experience of that cohort of students. A final step was to compare our results with those of the MCA data.


Results from the MCA showed that there was strong agreement or agreement about what is required of someone to be a good mentor. The Year II students surveyed agreed or strongly agreed that they gained new knowledge and saw potential for increasing their own growth for working as a mentor. They strongly agreed or agreed that mentors have the responsibility to empower the mentees to accomplish their best. In determining a person’s ability to mentor, the students either agreed or strongly agreed that mentors need to value receiving continuous feedback from the mentee. Additionally, they felt that being a strong role model was valuable for being a good mentor. In order to facilitate a mentoring culture, students strongly agreed or agreed that a work setting must be empowering to all in order to effectively accomplish meeting its mission and philosophy. Results of the focus group meeting provided explanations for the actions of the Year II students in the mentoring learning process and offered a clearer sense of their view of this professional behavior and skill development. Using the MCA data, the DPT students’ results were similar to Grossman’s in her work with nursing.

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

Accreditation standards and the expectations of clinical practice frame mentoring development as an essential skill to allow individuals to fulfill their professional duty through self and peer assessment and in preparation as future clinical educators. As a result of our comprehensive and progressive learning in the ICE course series, our students are well prepared for full time clinical education experiences and clinical practice. Their areas of strength are professional behavior, clinical teaching, clinical skills, and personal confidence. They receive feedback well and are comfortable with the roles related to the provision of feedback – both the receiver and the sender. They recognize what it takes to be a mentor and to be a productive mentee. They recognize what is necessary in the workplace to allow mentorship to be a successful approach with individuals. The breadth of this experience serves as a solid preparation for a life-long mentoring commitment.


American Physical Therapy Association. Mentoring of professionalism in academic and clinical education, HOD P06-03-29-27. American Physical Therapy Association Web site. http://www.apta.org/uploadedFiles/APTAorg/About_Us/Policies/Professional_Development/MentoringProfessionalismAcdemicClinicalEducation.pdf#search=%22mentoring of professionalism%22. Updated July 30, 2012. Accessed February 10, 2016.

American Physical Therapy Association. Professionalism in physical therapy: Core values, BOD P05-04-02-03. American Physical Therapy Association Web site. http://www.apta.org/
uploadedFiles/APTAorg/About_Us/Policies/BOD/Judicial/ProfessionalisminPT.pdf. Updated
December 14, 2009. Accessed February 10, 2016.

Barker ER. Mentoring-a complex relationship. J Am AcadNurse Pract.2006;18(2):56-61.

Davis LL, Little MS, Thornton WL. The art and angst of the mentoring relationship. AcadPsychiatry. 1997;21(2):61-67. doi:10.1007/BF03341901.

DeClute J, Ladyshewsky R. Enhancing clinical competence using a collaborative clinical education model. PhysTher. 1993:73(10):683-689.

Duffy K. Providing constructive feedback to students during mentoring. NursStand. 2013;27(31):50-56.

Fielden SL, Davidson MJ, Sutherland VJ. Innovations in coaching and mentoring: implications for nurse development leadership. Health ServManage Res. 2009;22(2):92-99.

Gazsi CC, Oriel KN. The impact of a service learning experience to enhance curricular integration in a physical therapist education program. J Allied Health. 2010;39(2):e61-65.

Grossman S. Promoting an effective mentoring culture for nurse faculty. In Dominguez N & Gandert Y (Eds). 7th Annual Mentoring Conference Proceedings: Developmental Networks: Mentoring and Coaching at Work, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM, 2014.

Hayward LM, Blackmer B. A model for teaching and assessing core values development in doctor of physical therapy students. J Phys Ther Educ. 2010;24(3):16-26.

Healey WE. Physical therapist student approaches to learning during clinical education experiences: a qualitative study. J PhysTherEduc.2008;22(1):49-58.

Kontney LB, May W, Iglarsh AZ. Professional behaviors for the 21stcentury. Marquette University Web site. http://www.marquette.edu/physical-therapy/documents/Professional Behaviors.pdf. Published 2010. Accessed February 10, 2016.

Mai JA, Thiele A, O’Dell B, Kruse B, Vaassen M, Priest A. Utilization of an integrated clinical experience in a physical therapist education program. J Phys Ther Educ. 2013;27(2):25-32.

Reynolds P. How service-learning experiences benefit physical therapists' students professional development: a grounded theory study. J Phys Ther Educ. 2005;19(1):41-54.

Topping K. Peer assessment between students in colleges and universities. Rev EducRes. 1998;68(3):249-276.

Course Objectives

Upon completion of this session you will be able to:

Identify essential components of a comprehensive and progressive approach within an ICE course series in a DPT program that promote peer mentoring, professional behavior development, and student learning.

Discuss assessment techniques that support the overall development of mentoring in a work setting or an organization.

Discuss the successes and challenges associated with delivering this type of mentoring model in a DPT program.

Identify strategies for developing a mentoring model in the workplace, an organization or DPT program.

Instructional Methods

Presentation with Powerpoint, breakout discussion in small groups, recap and conclusion with questions and answer session

Tentative Outline/Schedule

Introduction to speakers and the session (5 minutes)

Overview of model which incorporates progressive development of mentoring skills within DPTeducation and clinical education - peer teaching, mentoring, and assessment, professional behavior development, and progressive expectations of students (20 minutes)

Breakout session to discuss role of mentoring in their workplace / setting (10 minutes)

Discussion of survey results and focus group findings (15 minutes)

Breakout session to discuss strategies for developing mentoring in the workplace, an organization or DPT program (10 minutes)

Discussion of implementation practice - comfort with roles, delivering / receiving feedback (15 minutes)

Questions and Answers (15 minutes)

BACK to Abstract Results

  • Control #: 2525801
  • Type: Educational Session
  • Event/Year: ELC2016
  • Authors: Cheryl Babin, Dr. Janna Kucharski-Howard, Constance Inacio, Linda Tsoumas
  • Keywords:

BACK to Abstract Results