An Assessment of High-School Students' Knowledge of Physical Therapy and the Factors That Influence Their Knowledge

By Kallus, Kerri; Noble, Dana et al. | Journal, Physical Therapy Education, Spring 1999 | Go to article overview

An Assessment of High-School Students' Knowledge of Physical Therapy and the Factors That Influence Their Knowledge


Kallus, Kerri, Noble, Dana, Bezner, Janet, Keely, Ginny, Journal, Physical Therapy Education


ABSTRACT: A survey was administered to 575 students in six different public high schools in Texas to determine the students ' knowledge of physical therapy and the factors that influenced their knowledge. A majority of the students surveyed knew of or had heard about physical therapy. The task that most students (91%) identified physical therapy with was "instructs a patient in exercises." Two other tasks commonly recognized as those performed by physical therapists were "works with joints to decrease pain and stiffness" (88%) and "evaluates a patients need for treatment" (85%). The task with which the students were least familiar, with only 37% answering correctly, was `provides wound care." Sources that the students reported using the most to learn about physical therapy were television (66%); teacher, counselor, or coach (51%); and movies (44%). Significant differences were found within the demographic variables of school (urban versus rural), gender, grade, and prospective career in students ' identification of the individual tasks of physical therapy and the sources from which they had obtained their knowledge of physical therapy. Because the majority (>85%) of the students in the urban schools surveyed were representatives of minority groups, the results yield important implications for the recruitment of minority students into the profession. Career development is an important part of the high-school years. Researchers have shown that it is during this time when students begin to consider career choices. To ensure successful choices, students need accurate knowledge and information about their options. The results from this study may assist universities interested

in recruiting physical therapy students and the profession with the development of strategies to provide high-school students with sufficient and accurate information about physical therapy.

INTRODUCTION

Career development is a process that a person addresses throughout life. A person chooses not only a career but also a lifestyle, and in doing so makes an important life decision. According to Freud, "laying stress upon importance of work has a greater effect than any other technique of living in the direction of binding the individual more closely to reality.1In making this statement, Freud realized the importance of a career in reflecting on ourselves, shaping who we are, providing us with colleagues and friends, and helping us find our place in this world.l

In the process of career decision making, many people experience indecision, an uncertainty about which career options to pursue. Savickas2 suggested that those people with career indecision can be divided into three subgroups. Group 1 includes people who feel no pressure to make a decision. This group has the confidence to make a rewarding choice, but lacks information about the options. Group 2 is made up of those people who harbor some immaturity and anxiety about their career. Group 3 is the undecided people who are unable to make decisions, even though they have the necessary information. Each of these groups need some guidance and intervention to help simplify the career decision-making process.2 Other researchers3-9 have suggested that influential factors on career decision making include family support, role models, childhood experiences, college advisors, and the availability of factual information.

Career development matures with age and becomes an important consideration by the time an individual enters high school.3,4, 10-13 Individuals first begin to learn about careers during this time, and most adolescents have expressed occupational preferences by the time they reach high school. They continue, however, to be unclear about skills and abilities needed for their prospective profession.to It is appropriate for professions, such as physical therapy, and universities conducting recruitment efforts to help prepare and provide individuals with information to assist in the career decision-making process. …

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