Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Ph.D. in Higher Education

First Advisor

Whitney Webb

Second Advisor

Neal H. Hutchens

Third Advisor

Macey Edmondson


University of Mississippi

Relational Format



Introduction: The physical therapy (PT) profession has a tradition of growth driven by interest and societal needs. Recent discrepancies in workforce modeling suggest looming issues impacted by declining application rates. Modern facilitators and barriers for entering the PT profession need exploration to assist key stakeholders in making informed decisions in recruitment.

Study Purpose: To explore how factors identified to influence individual’s choice of entering a healthcare career impact self-perceived likelihood of applying to an entry-level graduate PT program.

Methods: A univariant correlational research design was used to examine the extent of the relationship between predictive factors and students’ self-perceived likelihood of applying to an entry-level graduate PT program. Open-ended questions exploring additional aspects of career decision-making were implemented to further explore respondents’ views on PT career choice.

Results: A total of 182 survey responses were collected with 170 included in multiple regression analysis following examination of casewise diagnostics and exclusion of standard residuals greater than two. A statistically significant relationship was found, F(6, 163) = 8.38, p < 0.001. A moderate approaching large effect size was noted with approximately 24% of the variance accounted for in the model, R2 = 0.24 (95% CI [.11, .33]). Personal interest (p = 0.003), previous exposure (p < 0.001), and job prospects (p = 0.014) were all found to be significant predictors accounting for 4.4%, 6.8%, and 2.9% of variance in the model respectively. Reponses to open-ended questions supported model findings with additional insights on PT career decision-making from prospective students.

Discussion/Conclusions: Findings highlight the importance that prior exposure and personal interest contributes to pursuing PT as a career. Job prospects also play a key role supporting needs to address financial barriers for entering the profession as well as ROI issues reaching prospective students and making impacts on career decision-making. Prospective students are asking for increased levels of information and support with undergraduate programs, observation opportunities, application processes, and financial help needed to make pursuing PT as a career more attainable. Identified barriers may be disproportionally affecting minority groups traditionally underrepresented in the workforce but expressing interest in PT as a career.



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