Date of Award


Document Type

Scholarly Project

Degree Name

Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT)


Physical Therapy

First Advisor

Renee Mabey


Physical Therapists -- education; Students, Health Occupations; Surveys and Questionnaires


Background and Purpose: This study determines the usefulness of pre-admission clinical contact hours obtained by potential physical therapy students as perceived by faculty of Doctor of Physical Therapy programs. Within the last ten years there is limited research regarding the effectiveness of pre-admission clinical contact hours in physical therapy. These results can be used to determine prerequisites for physical therapy programs in the future.

Methods: An electronic survey link was sent via e-mail to program chairpersons or Directors of Clinical Education (DCE) of all accredited Physical Therapy programs, asking them to distribute the survey to their academic faculty. Two reminder emails containing the link were sent out to maximize response rate. Survey items gathered information related to pre-admission clinical contact hour requirements and perceived usefulness of the hours.

Results: A total of 217 surveys were returned. These surveys represented 31 states and 85% of the responses indicated preadmission clinical contact hours are required. Of 194 respondents, 91% agree that contact hours are beneficial with 36% strongly agreeing, 34% agreeing, and 21% somewhat agreeing. An open-ended question regarding the benefits of contact hours yielded responses that primarily fell into two categories. Exposure to different patients and settings had the highest prevalence with 169 (48%) responses and interactions with aPT/mentor for learning experiences was next most common with 130 (3 5%) responses. Of 163 responses nearly half ( 4 7%) of responding academic faculty stated their students had challenges obtaining clinical contact hours. Upon further analysis this was most due to accessing a setting (24%), specifically acute care; legal, health, or background requirements (16%); and the requirements of training or orientation were too time consuming (14%).

Conclusion: Pre-admission clinical contact hours are beneficial for students entering physical therapy. Academic faculty members acknowledged difficulties in scheduling contact hours but expressed the students had much to gain from the experience. Faculty recognize that students appreciate a PT that is a mentor as well as a quality practitioner. Future analyses will compare these results with two other studies to determine if there is a correlation between faculty, student, and clinician perspectives of preadmission clinical contact hours.