Date of Award


Document Type

Scholarly Project

Degree Name

Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT)


Physical Therapy

First Advisor

Renee Mabey

Second Advisor

Cindy Flom-Meland


Physical Therapists -- education


Background and Purpose: The purposes of this study were to determine whether professional physical therapy students experience challenges obtaining pre-admission contact hours and if they found them to be beneficial. The results of the survey will be utilized to allow physical therapy programs to make informed decisions about admission requirements in regard to pre-admission contact hours.

Methods: This study was performed utilizing an electronic survey sent in an e-mail to program chairpersons or Directors of Clinical Education, asking them to distribute the survey to their respective current students. All accredited physical therapy programs in the United States were contacted in this manner. The survey was distributed by e-mail, with 2 reminder emails containing the link to maximize response rate. Survey items gathered information related to pre-admission contact hour experiences and limited participant demographic information.

Results: There were 1303 responses to the survey and 99% of respondents completed contact hours. There were 887 (72%) respondents that indicated they completed hours as a professional program requirement, and found them to be beneficial. There were 225 respondents (21%) that indicated contact hours helped them to decide on physical therapy as a career. There were 493 respondents (45%) that indicated they experienced difficulty accessing a site, of which 248 respondents (52%) did not continue to pursue access to that site. There were 215 respondents (20%) who were denied access to a site due to various reasons. Respondents defined quality experiences as those that included: education and communication (52%); a variety of settings, patients, and diagnoses (23%); interaction and hands-on experience (23%).

Conclusion: We determined that pre-professional contact hours are beneficial to the professional physical therapy student and there is still some level of difficulty accessing sites to complete these hours, but not as much as previously thought. There is more research needed to determine what the optimal number of hours that should be required for admission to a professional physical therapy program. Respondents indicated that quality experiences include communication with the physical therapist, being able to ask questions, being able to interact with patients, experiencing a variety of settings, patient/client diversity, and a variety of treatment methods.