Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Ed.D. in Education

First Advisor

Amy E. Wells Dolan

Second Advisor

John Holleman


University of Mississippi

Relational Format



African Americans are motivated by early exposure to the profession and future expectations for their personal career path including stability work-life balance and helping others. The elimination of barriers such as finances lack of support and cultural microaggressions influences their career path. Following statistical analysis of admissions data conclusions were made that the current admissions criteria does not successfully predict first year success for any students including African American students. Lastly African American physical therapy graduates from UMMC reported excitement upon admission concerns over quotas lack of African American faculty students and physical therapists and the presence of microaggressions while in the program. Diversity within the profession of physical therapy is important to achieve optimum healthcare outcomes. Mississippi lacks African American physical therapist compared to the number of African Americans residing in the state. In order to increase the number of practicing physical therapists in Mississippi the Department of Physical Therapy at the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC) needs to increase the number of African American students who are admitted and eventually matriculate from the physical therapy program. This companion dissertation addresses the lack of African Americans in physical therapy and explores recommendations on how to improve this disparity. First focus groups were utilized to gain insights into the motivations and influences that prompt African American students to enter a doctoral healthcare profession. Second the admissions process was examined using a quantitative approach to determine if the current admission process limits African American enrollment. Lastly graduates of the UMMC physical therapy program were intervieto explore their experiences and perceptions of their education in the department of physical therapy. Recommendations to improve the number of African Americans in physical therapy include 1) revision of the current admissions process that will include a more holistic approach 2) the formation of a mentoring programs and 3) implementation of increased cultural competency education. In addition recruitment efforts need to be more directed at physical therapy and occur in early education.



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.