Purpose: The purpose of this study was to analyze how selected senior instructors in physical therapist educational programs define and seek to impart information on professional behavior. Methods: A qualitative case study approach was used to gather data from eight instructors teaching in four physical therapist educational programs in a selected region. Each interview was analyzed as an individual case study, followed by a cross case analysis to identify common themes. Results: Interpretational analysis using a process of constant comparison revealed nine common themes: 1) Instructors found it difficult to broadly define professional behavior. 2) Instructors expect students to be on time. 3) Instructors expect students to speak and act with courtesy and respect. 4) Instructors expect students to communicate appropriately. 5) Instructors expect students to dress appropriately. 6) Instructors expect students to participate in class. 7) Instructors consciously model professional behavior as a way to communicate their expectations. 8) Instructors give instructions and provide students with feedback about professional behavior. 9) Instructors do not attach a specific grade to professional behavior. Conclusions: Although instructors indicated a lack of confidence in consistency regarding professional behavior expectations, the themes that emerged in this study fit within existing descriptions of professional behavior for clinical physical therapists. Instructor perceptions of strategies for conveying information about professional behavior to students were consistent with existing literature on modeling and explicit teaching. .

Author Bio(s)

Tamara L. Phelan, PT, EdD, is an Associate Professor, Department of Physical Therapy, Thomas J. Long School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, Stockton California.




Submission Location


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