Characteristics of professional physical therapist faculty and doctor of physical therapy programs, 2008-2017: Influences on graduation rates and first-time national physical therapy examination pass rates

Tara Dickson, Barrett Taylor, Jason Zafereo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objective. Graduation rates and first-time National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) pass rates among Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) programs have ranged from 30% to 100% and 0% to 100% between 2008 and 2017, respectively. Prior studies on predictors of graduation rates and NPTE pass rates from DPT programs have used cross-sectional data and have not studied faculty data. This study sought to understand how trends in DPT faculty and program characteristics correlated with graduation rates and first-time NPTE pass rates. Methods. This study was a retrospective panel analysis of yearly data from 231 programs between 2008 and 2017. Random effects models estimated the correlations between faculty and program characteristics regarding graduation rates and first-time NPTE pass rates. Results. Graduation rates peaked when programs devoted 25% of faculty time, on average, to scholarship. The number of peer-reviewed publications was positively correlated with graduation rates; however, the trend was logarithmic, indicating a diminishing rise in graduation rates as the number of publications exceeded 1 per faculty full-time equivalent. Tenure-track status, faculty of color, and part-time faculty were all negatively correlated with first-time NPTE pass rates. However, these 3 trends are likely not meaningful, because the predicted rates of decline in pass rates were minimal. Conclusions. Faculty engagement in scholarly activities can positively influence graduation rates, but only up to a certain level of faculty time devoted to scholarship. Impact. This is the first study to provide data on the influence of faculty on DPT student outcomes and will help education programs develop strategies to improve those outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1930-1947
Number of pages18
JournalPhysical Therapy
Volume100
Issue number11
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 1 2020
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation

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