Purpose: The purpose of this study was to determine how the expectations of new graduate physical therapists held by physical therapy faculty (PTF), clinical instructors (CIs), and employers (PTE) compared in the acute care (AC) setting, and determine if graduates are meeting the entry-level expectations of the three stakeholders in acute care. Methods: This mixed method study used Survey Monkey to gather data from participants. Faculty, CIs and PTEs were recruited from CAPTE accredited DPT programs. The current survey used the top 25 characteristics developed by the Delphi study by Gazsi to determine level of agreement of importance among the three participant groups for entry-level performance in acute care. Results: The study had 399 participants. Of the 25 characteristics, 7 were ranked most important by more than 75% of all participant groups combined. Two characteristics – safe and reliable – were consistently ranked highest by all 3 participant groups. Four significant differences among groups were for the characteristics of recognition of red flags, critical thinker, problem solver, and team player. A majority (82.4%) reported that new graduates were meeting expectations. Conclusions: Although the majority of participants reported that new graduates were meeting expectations, the implication of differences in expectations among some of the participants is that these differences should be considered in curricula development.

Key words: DPT education, employer expectations, DPT entry-level expectations

Author Bio(s)

Leah Nof PT, MS, PhD, is a Professor in the Physical Therapy Program, Nova Southreastern University, Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Claudia Gazsi, PT, MHA, PhD, is an Associate Professor and Director of Clinical Education, Department of Physical Therapy, Lebanon Valley College, Annville, PA

Shari Rone-Adams, PT, MHSA, DBA is an Associate Professor and Chair, Physical Therapy Program, Nova Southreastern University, Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Debra F. Stern, PT, DPT, MSM, DBA, is the Director of Clinical Education, Physical Therapy Department, Nova Southreastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida


The authors acknowledge the contribution of Kevin Swieboda, who was a DPT student at the time the study was conducted, for assisting with the literature review, Dr. Samuel Cheng, and Dr. Alicia Fernandez- Fernandez for their critical review of the article, and Dr. Cheryl Hill, for copy editing of the article. This study was supported by a grant from Nova Southeastern University, College of Health Care Science and College of Nursing, Faculty Research and Development Grant, number 335565





To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.