Factors influencing applicant selection of entry-level physical therapist education programs in the United States

Wilcox, Kim Curbow
Weber, Mark
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Association of Schools of Allied Health Professions

Physical therapist education programs must compete for qualified applicants due to a nationwide reduction in the applicant pool. To develop successful recruitment strategies, faculty members need information on factors influencing applicant selection of a program. The purpose of this study was to analyze factors influencing selection of an entry-level physical therapist education program. Survey subjects were students enrolled in the first professional year of an accredited entry-level physical therapist education program. A survey instrument was developed based on the literature and interviews with physical therapist students and faculty members. Results of pilot studies to determine face and content validity were acceptable. Stratified random cluster sampling was applied to select 66 entry-level physical therapy programs from an available population of 150 of the 199 accredited programs. Forty-nine programs were not included in the population for various reasons. Using a five-point Likert scale, subjects rated the influence of 51 items on their selection of a specific physical therapist education program. The overall return rate was 70.4% (1,250 surveys returned). Data were analyzed by response frequency. Four factors were selected as "very influential" by 50% or more of the subjects: degree offered, accreditation status, perception of educational quality, and program atmosphere. Additional factors selected by 45% or more of respondents as "very influential" were pass rate on licensing examination, marketability of degree, student/faculty ratio, and small class size. Factors rated "not influential" by 50% or more of subjects included ethnic, cultural, and gender issues. Since 1998, the physical therapy profession has experienced changes in entry-level degree requirements, practice requirements, and employment opportunities, resulting in increased competition for qualified applicants to education programs. The information gained in this study may assist faculty in the development of recruitment strategies.

Article originally published in Journal of Allied Health, 34(1), 11–16. English. Published online 2005. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15839600
Received permission from publisher to deposit the published version due to the age of the article. For more information please see the faculty member's entry in Project INDEX -- EDH 7/7/23
Accreditation, Choice behavior, Physical therapy education, Physical therapy standards, Psychometrics
his is the published version of an article that is available at https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15839600. Recommended citation: Wilcox, K. C., & Weber, Mark. (2005). Factors influencing applicant selection of entry-level physical therapist education programs in the United States. Journal of Allied Health, 34(1), 11–16. This item has been deposited in accordance with publisher copyright and licensing terms and with the author’s permission.