•  
  •  
 

Abstract

Purpose: Student debt is of growing concern in physical therapy and other health professions in the United States. This study explored the extent to which finances and other factors influenced student decision making when applying to and selecting terminal clinical education experiences. Methods: An online survey was developed and distributed to 250 recent graduates of a Doctor of Physical Therapy Program (2016-19). A logistic regression model was used to determine the relationship between respondents’ reported student debt and other factors when choosing a nontraditional model (the yearlong internship model (YLI)/residency model) or the traditional 4-month model. A 5-point Likert scale was used to rate the level of importance for each factor. Results: Seventy-six participants, across four cohorts completed the survey, representing a 30.4% response rate. The logistic regression model found that student debt did not significantly predict whether a student was likely to choose the nontraditional model over the traditional shorter terminal clinical experience; however, age and relationship status were found to be significant predictors of preference for length of experience. Based on aggregate mean data, the most important decision-making criterion in deciding the terminal clinical experience was patient population, followed by the culture of the clinic, then geographic location, and type of clinical setting. The criterion with the lowest aggregate mean was peer (within cohort) competition followed by student debt. A comparison of means found two decision-making criteria significantly reduced from the point of application to the commitment decision: saving money and interprofessional opportunities. Both decision-making criteria became less important for students when deciding on their terminal clinical experience as compared to when they were applying for the terminal clinical experience approximately 3 months earlier. Conclusions / Recommendations: Student debt was not an important factor in selecting the terminal clinical education experience and did not predict whether a student would apply to or select the YLI model rather than the shorter, traditional option. Instead, students considered multiple factors when selecting their terminal experience. Healthcare education programs may want to consider these factors in recruitment of clinical sites, student advising, and/or student placements related to the terminal clinical education experience.

Author Bio(s)

Jennifer W. Rodriguez, PT, DPT is the Director of Clinical Education and Associate Professor in the Physical Therapy Program, School of Medicine at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora, CO.

Whitney Davidson, PT, DPT is a Physical Therapist at Stafford Healthcare in Des Moines, Washington. At the time this study was conducted, Dr. Davidson was a third-year physical therapy student in the Physical Therapy Program, School of Medicine at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora, CO.

R Joseph Palmer III, PT, DPT is the Assistant Director of Clinical Education and Senior Instructor in the Physical Therapy Program, School of Medicine at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora, CO.

Mary Jane Rapport, PT, DPT, PhD, FAPTA is a Professor in the Physical Therapy Program, School of Medicine at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora, CO.

Share

 
COinS
 
 

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.