The impact of COVID-19 on DPT student and faculty experiences: A grounded theory study
The COVID-19 pandemic significantly changed the way that physical therapists provide care to patients, as well as the way physical therapy students and faculty learn and teach, respectively, in Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) programs. Students and faculty quickly changed their teaching and learning methods when the curriculum was abruptly switched from all in-person instruction to all-online. The purpose of this study was to develop a grounded theory surrounding how the COVID-19 pandemic and its associated challenges impacted students and faculty in a single DPT program, including their experiences, expectations, relationships, and interactions. Participants were recruited via email and word of mouth. This study included participants from Texas Woman’s University’s (TWU) School of Physical Therapy at both the Dallas and Houston campuses. Participants included twenty-six students (23 female; 3 male) and ten faculty (8 female, 2 male). Ten of the students were in their second year, and sixteen of the students were in their third year of PT school at the time of data collection. Six student focus groups of 3-5 participants and ten individual faculty participants were conducted via interviews held on Zoom. Each participant answered questions from a semi-structured interview guide surrounding how COVID-19 impacted their experiences as students and faculty in a DPT program. Results of this study surrounding the grounded theory of Resilience in Students and Faculty during COVID-19 contained three major categories: Prioritizing Mental and Physical Health, Adaptation of Teaching and Learning Styles, and Enhanced Non-academic Expectations Between Students and Faculty. The results of the study suggest the need for measuring and developing shared resilience in DPT students and faculty in order to create a positive program environment and experience.