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2011 Annual Conference

October 27–30, 2011

The Woodlands Waterway Marriott

2011 Research Poster Abstracts


Saturday, October 29, 2011 at 1:00 PM–2:00 PM CDT
Exhibit Hall
Presenter's Name - Last Name First

Baker, Christine


The purpose of this study was to assess physical therapists’ and their employers’ perceptions of the therapists’ skills and knowledge as they enter a transitional post-professional (DPT) program.


Forty-four students, all licensed physical therapists, were enrolled in the online program at the time of data collection. Returned surveys reflected the skills of 41 (93%) scholars.  Thirty-nine (89%) of students/therapists returned surveys; while 34 (77%) of employers returned surveys. The range of experience of therapists was 5 to 36 years, with mean of 17 years of experience. Therapists/students represent 10 states: AZ, CA, GA, MD, ND, NJ, OH, OK, TX, and WI. 


Pre-program surveys were given to each online student at entry into program. Each student rated herself on 20 skills that measured perceived ability to perform key concepts necessary in pediatric settings as well as newer ‘core’ areas of differential diagnosis, imaging, pharmacology, evidence based practice, management, and medical Spanish. Each student asked her immediate supervisor to complete similar survey and rate the therapist on the same skills/ content areas. Completed surveys were sent to the investigator; surveys were coded and names removed. Ratings ranged from 1 (poor), 2 (fair), 3 (good), to 4 (excellent).

Data Analysis

Descriptive statistics were calculated: mean, range, percentages. Fisher’s exact test was calculated to determine if significant differences existed between means of students’ and employers’ ratings for individual items as well as total average rating. Significance level was p


Twenty-nine percent (10 of 34) of employers did not address all the ‘core’ skill areas of imaging, pharmacology, etc. Looking at individually rated items, the highest mean rating from students was in ‘Communication with children’ with rating of 3.57; the highest rating from employers was in ‘Communication with parents’ with a mean rating of 3.79. Conversely, the lowest mean rating from students was found in ‘Imaging’ (mean rating 1.6), while employers rated ‘Medical Spanish’ with the lowest mean rating (2.3). Significant differences were found between the ratings given by employers and scholars in the areas of ‘Communications with parents’, ‘Embracing individual and cultural differences in interactions’, and ‘Time management’. Significant differences also were found between ratings in the ‘core’ areas of management, pharmacology, imaging, and medical Spanish.


A review of scores shows that employers consistently rated scholars higher than the scholars rated themselves; this may be because employers are better able to compare scholars’ skills to other employees in the facility, or perceived the purpose of the survey differently, or that scholars are more ‘critical’ of their own skills as enter the program and recognize the scope of what they need to know.

Clinical Relevance

Educational Relevance: By comparing student perception of skills and knowledge on pre-tests with those of their employers as they enter our online t-DPT program, we are able to detect perceived knowledge and perceptions of skill in specific areas of foundational knowledge and pediatrics among these experienced therapists and provide a baseline for post-program surveys.


Christine Baker, PT, EdD, University of Texas Medical Branch
Dana Wild, PT, PhD, PCS, University of Texas Medical Branch
Carolyn Utsey, PT, PhD, University of Texas Medical Branch
Patricia Fingerhut, OTR, PhD, University of Texas Medical Branch