First-generation college students report many barriers that impact their success during their undergraduate years. However, little is known about the concerns of first-generation college students who continue on to graduate school. With the increased emphasis on diversity and inclusion among physical therapy programs there is a concomitant responsibility to support first generation students throughout their training. The purpose of this study was to assess the needs of first-generation Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) students.
Eighteen first-generation college students enrolled in the DPT program at Northern Arizona University (NAU) completed an 8-item survey to identify needs across the following domains, financial aid, student loans, social support, psychological concerns, tutoring/learning skills, mentoring, professionalism, and success stories of other first-generation students. Each domain was scored using a Likert scale from 1 = most interested to 8 = least interested. Students were also given the opportunity to identify additional areas that were not listed.
Career mentoring (3.5) and financial aid (3.9) were identified as the highest ranking areas of need while professionalism (5.9) was lowest. In the free response section, mental health, outside social effects, negotiation skills, and workforce development were identified as additional areas of need.
Conclusions/Relevance to the conference theme:
These data suggest that DPT programs could better support first-generation DPT students by addressing mentoring and financial aid. Providing structured services and programs for first-generation DPT students will help foster the success of this underrepresented group and ultimately contribute to a more diverse physical therapy workforce.