Giving Voice to the Lived Experiences of Black Students in Physical Therapist Education


The purposes of this presentation are to: 1) Explore the influence of sociocultural identities on the lived experience of Black students in physical therapist (PT) education. 2) Explore ways to create an environment of psychological safety and inclusion for Black students in academic programs and clinical education


This presentation will explore the personal experiences of two Black DPT students and present supporting research on the impact of marginality and double consciousness on healthcare students. The 2019 Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that Black PTs make up 5.9% of the profession, as compared to 13.4% of the overall US population. Social identity is a personÕs own self-concept derived from a group they associate themselves with. For Blacks, the main social identity is race, and research shows that those with high association to a singular social identity are more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety. In university settings, many students of color find classroom and campus environments to be exclusive and marginalizing, which can have negative impacts on their ability to learn. Marginality can lead to self-consciousness, irritability and depression. The concepts of marginality and mattering relate to a sense of double consciousness, which is an idea first described by DuBois as a way of looking at oneÕs self through the eyes of others and Òmeasuring oneÕs soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity.Ó Double consciousness is a mental plague that can affect the way a student interacts in the classroom and clinic. Black students may lack self-confidence and feel they are unable to show their true selves in academic settings. Students also report regularly questioning their ability to be successful, wondering if their admission into the program was a result of being truly qualified or as a Òdiversity admission.Ó All of these challenges can negatively impact the educational experience of a Black student in PT school. Underrepresentation and exclusivity can impact Black PT students mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and academically. Giving voice to these experiences can be a catalyst for change within the profession and education system.


This platform will serve to inform physical therapists and clinical instructors of the perspectives and experiences of Black student physical therapists, and be the catalyst of discussion on how they can encourage black representation amongst the field. After this session, participants will be encouraged to converse and collaborate with colleagues as well as students to encourage reform.

Conclusions/Relevance to the conference theme:

The importance of developing a diverse and culturally competent PT workforce is clear. Through increased awareness of the lived experiences of Black student physical therapists, we can work towards increasing representation, supporting students in authentic and meaningful ways.

BACK to Abstract Results

  • Control #: 26732
  • Type: Platform Presentation - Non-Research Type
  • Event/Year: ELC2020
  • Authors: Roselyn Atoyebi, SPT
  • Keywords:

BACK to Abstract Results