Preferences of Physical Therapists in the New York Metropolitan Area regarding a Post-Professional Clinical Doctorate in Physical Therapy

Article excerpt

A survey was used to investigate factors that might influence an individual's selection of a post-professional doctorate of physical therapy (PP-DPT) program. A random sample of 990 physical therapists living in the New York metropolitan area who are members of the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) were surveyed. The survey instrument asked questions about (1) demographics, (2) the likelihood of pursuing post-professional education, (3) the preferred goals/objectives for a PP-DPT, and (4) preferred implementation of a PP-DPT. The survey also included a question related to clinical education and the PP-DPT. We asked for "additional comments" in a narrative format. Descriptive statistics were collected on all respondents. Chi-square tests and t tests were performed to determine differences in demographics between those respondents with an interest in pursuing the PP-DPT and those with no interest. Additional chi-square analyses were performed for only those respondents interested in the PP-DPT to determine relationships between demographics and interest in specific program goals and objectives. Two hundred eighty survey questionnaires were returned, for a response rate of 28%. Thirty-five percent of the respondents reported being likely to pursue a PP-DPT. Those respondents expressing an interest in the PP-DPT were younger and more likely to have a master's degree as the highest degree earned than those with no interest. Respondents with an interest in pursuing a PP-DPT most often listed the following as important goals: enhancement of clinical skills (90%), preparation for specialty certification (89%), and enhancement of other professional roles such as education and consultation (76%). In terms of program implementation and clinical education issues, respondents preferred programs that would cause minimal disruption to their personal and professional lives. Respondents' experience and practice setting were related to several program goals. Our results show that physical therapists would like a PP-DPTprogram to provide education in advanced practice areas, both clinical and non-clinical. This information may be useful for designing and implementing a PP-DPTprogram.

Key Words: Physical therapy education, Post-professional clinical doctorate.

INTRODUCTION

In the last 5 years, physical therapy education has seen a proliferation of professional (entry-level) programs offering the Doctorate of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree. In 1995, Creighton University was the first program in the nation to confer the DPT degree. By December 2000, there were 19 accredited professional DPT programs and an additional 18 programs that had made the commitment to convert to a DPT program from either a bachelor's or master's degree program.1

The factors driving the need for a professional DPT are numerous and can be divided into external factors and internal factors. External factors relate to the changes seen to the health care environment, whereas internal factors are those initiated within the physical therapy community, particularly the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA).

The rapid and pervasive changes to the health care environment nationally in the past decade have led to changes in the knowledge, skills, and role behaviors required for successful physical therapy practice.2,3 With the elimination of managerial and supervisory positions resulting from institutional reengineering and consolidation,4 there has been a decrease in mentoring for new graduates, forcing therapists to make clinical decisions more independently. With many third-party payers developing a "managed" approach to reimbursement in an effort to control health care costs, therapists now have less time per visit to manage patients and are seeing patients for fewer visits overall.5-7 This decrease in patient contact hours has forced therapists to be more efficient with their interventions and has led to many calls for physical therapists to adopt an evidence-based approach to practice. …