Document Type


Publication Date

Summer 2009


This study examined the opinions of physical therapy faculty relative to teaching and fostering professionalism in entry-level physical therapy education. A paper-and-pencil survey was mailed to a random sample of 318 physical therapy educators across the United States. Of the 318 surveys mailed, 166 participants (response rate, 52%) completed and returned the survey. Descriptive analysis revealed that 98% of the physical therapy educators view professionalism as an important component of a physical therapy curriculum. Eighty-nine percent of the respondents expressed concern about the professional behaviors of one or more of their entry-level students; however, based on the frequency of negative behaviors, these concerns appear to be isolated to a small percentage of the students. The most frequent negative behaviors observed among entry-level physical therapy students included tardiness and lack of personal responsibility. Respondents identified clinical reasoning, integrity, and honesty as the three most important professional skills for a physical therapist. The three most common teaching methods used to foster professionalism included generic abilities, small group discussion, and related reading assignments. Professional socialization is clearly a concern among physical therapy faculty for a few entry-level physical therapy students; however, based on the results of this investigation, it appears that most entry-level physical therapy students are making a smooth transition to professional socialization. The information obtained from this investigation may be useful to allied health professionals and educators to help promote professionalism among entry-level students enrolled in professional programs.


Copyright © 2009 Journal of Allied Health and the American Association of Schools of Allied Health Professions. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.