Association of importance of the doctoral degree with students' perceptions and anticipated activities reflecting professionalism

Marie A Johanson
Physical Therapy 2005, 85 (8): 766-81

BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) has identified the Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree as 1 of 6 elements necessary to transition the physical therapy profession to a fully professionalized discipline. However, there have been no data to determine whether physical therapist students who place importance on the DPT degree perceive physical therapy to be more professionalized or anticipate participation in activities reflecting professionalism more than those who do not place importance on the DPT degree.

SUBJECTS: The subjects were 919 professional physical therapist students.

METHODS: Faculty members at 34 physical therapist education programs distributed questionnaires to 1,172 professional physical therapist students and returned 919 questionnaires, for a response rate of 78.4%. The data were statistically analyzed using chi-square analysis and logistic regression.

RESULTS: There were few differences between students who place importance on the DPT degree (DPT-I students) and those who do not place importance on the DPT degree (DPT-NI students) regarding how professionalized they perceive physical therapy to be relative to other health care professions or regarding their anticipated participation in activities reflecting professionalism. The one potential distinction found when controlling for other variables was that DPT-I students were more likely than DPT-NI students to anticipate becoming faculty members.

DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION: When beginning their professional education, there are few differences between DPT-I and DPT-NI students' perceptions of the professionalization of physical therapy or anticipation of activities reflecting professionalism.

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