Minority Recruitment and Retention Strategies in Physical Therapist Education Programs

Article excerpt

Background and Purpose. The purpose of this study was to determine whether there were direct relationships between: (1) the number of recruitment and retention strategies and the number of minority students who were accepted into, enrolled in, and graduated from a physical therapist education program and (2) the number of minority full-time faculty and the number of minority students who were accepted into, enrolled in, and graduated from a physical therapist education program. Subjects. The sample used for this research study consisted of 76 of 173 physical therapist programs in the United States accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE) in 1999. Methods. The program director at each program surveyed completed a questionnaire. The responses served as the data utilized for this research study. Results. The results ivere analyzed using descriptive analysis and Pearson product moment correlations. More recruitment strategies was not significantly correlated (r=.210) with having more minority applicants. Number of minority recruitment strategies was not correlated with number of first-year minority students (r=.119). Retention strategies were correlated with a greater percentage of minority graduate students (r=382, P<.05). Special retention efforts also were significantly correlated with number of graduating minority students (r=.350, P<.01). There was a correlation between minority faculty and minority applications (r=.426, P<,01), although there was no correlation between number of minority faculty and number of first-year students (r=.173) and graduating minorities (r=.219). Discussion and Conclusion. The results indicate that physical therapist education programs: (1) are deficient in keeping ethnicity and racial data of minority applicants; (2) are deficient in keeping data related to the reasons why minorities fail to graduate; (3) have more minority applicants and minority graduates when utilizing special efforts to recruit and retain minorities, respectively; (4) have more minority graduates when using more retention strategies; and (5) have more minority applicants when having more minority full-time faculty.

Key Words: Minority students, Recruitment strategies, Retention strategies.


Minority students are currently as underrepresented in physical therapy as they are in other health care professions.1-9 The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) defines the terms "minority" and "minorities" as members of racial and ethnic groups, identified as African American or black, Asian American, Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander, American Indian or Alaskan, and Hispanic or Latino.10 In this study, "student underrepresentation" for each ethnicity/race is defined was having a lower percentage of representation in the profession when compared with the percentage found for that ethnicity/race in the general US population. Although Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are not considered under-represented, they were included in this study for the purpose of comparing their current representation with the contrasting under-representation of the other minorities.6,8,11-13

Although the number of minority students in physical therapy programs has increased over the years, from 6% in 1990 to about 12.9% in 1999, this increase has been significantly slower than the increase of minorities in the general US population (MJ Harris, Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education [CAPTE] e-mail, March 1, 2000; E King, American Physical Therapy Association (APTAI, written communication, March 2000). The US Census Bureau predicted for the first years of the 21st century that 30% of the US population will be composed of minorities.5,10 Furthermore, by the year 2030, 40% of the population is expected to be composed of minorities.4 Thus, a logical expectation is that the percentage of minority physical therapist students should closely mirror the percentage of minorities in the general US population. …


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