Purpose: Cultural competence is an essential skill for healthcare providers in our increasingly ethnically diversified society. There is an unmet need for educating future culturally competent physical therapists. The purpose of this study was to investigate the impact of pro bono clinic on cultural competence in first-year doctoral physical therapy students. Method: Forty-two participants completed a survey before and after attending three individual sessions of mentored pro bono clinical experiences during their first semester. The survey assessed participants’ attitudes and beliefs (Part I), and self-perceived level of confidence (Part II) towards cultural competence. Wilcoxon signed-rank tests were performed. Results: The mean scores increased from pretest (4.13 ± 0.55) to posttest (4.22 ± 0.48) for Part I (5: highest scale) and from 7.34 ± 0.96 to 8.01 ± 0.79 for Part II (10: highest level) but were not significant. Overall findings showed a positive impact which was reflected by students’ narrative comments post-participation (Part III). Conclusion: This study is novel due to limited evidence in this area, especially the effect of an early intervention. Pro bono clinic participation may be an effective approach that could be incorporated early in curriculum across allied health science education.

Author Bio(s)

Scarlett Morris, PT, DPT, is a Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City, KS. She is a Board-Certified Orthopaedic Specialist and holds a certificate in orthopaedic manual therapy.

RuiPing Xia, MS, PhD, is an Associate Professor in Doctor of Physical Therapy Program at Franklin Pierce University in Goodyear, AZ.

Troy Klaassen, PT, DPT is a graduate of the University of Saint Mary, Leavenworth, KS and currently works as a physical therapist and clinic director in Colorado.

Trey Johnson, PT, DPT is a graduate of the University of Saint Mary, Leavenworth, KS and currently works as a physical therapist at Great Plains Health Sports and Therapy Center in North Platte, Nebraska.


The authors would like to thank the study participants from the University of Saint Mary DPT program and acknowledge the St. Vincent Clinic, both in Leavenworth, KS.




Submission Location


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