Faculty and programmatic influences on the percentage of graduates of color from professional physical therapy programs in the United States

Abstract

The physical therapy profession in the United States suffers from a shortage of providers of color. This is unlikely to change with newly graduating students, as 2.6% of 2017 graduates were African American and 5.7% were Hispanic or Latino. Faculty mentorship has a more profound influence on the retention of underrepresented minority students as compared with students from privileged backgrounds, according to undergraduate literature. The influences of faculty characteristics on physical therapy graduates of color are unknown. The purpose of this study was to determine faculty and programmatic characteristics that could influence the percentage of physical therapy graduates of color. This study implemented the theory of academic capitalism to inform the results of a retrospective panel analysis, which used accreditation data from 2008 to 2017. Data from 231 programs was used to create fixed effects and random effects models to estimate the effects that faculty and program characteristics had on the percentage of graduates of color that a program produced. There was a statistically significant positive relationship between faculty of color and graduates of color (p < 0.001), but faculty must be sufficiently diverse before a program can expect a meaningful change in their percentage of graduates of color. Academic capitalist principles suggest that competition between programs for resources could negatively influence the proportion of graduates of color. Cause and effect associations between variables cannot be established. The authors concluded that professional physical therapy programs appeared to have increases in the percentages of graduates of color when they had more core faculty members of color.

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Funding

This 2019 Academy of Physical Therapy Education PODS II Award was funded by the Foundation for Physical Therapy Research and made possible by the Academy of Physical Therapy Education Fund and the Mildred Wood Fund.

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Correspondence to Tara Dickson.

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Appendix

Appendix

Percentage of graduates of color using the fixed effects model

Variable Correlation coefficient p value 95% CI
Faculty characteristics
 Core faculty FTE − 0.11 0.011* − 0.19–− 0.025
 % Tenured or tenure-track faculty 0.050 0.482 − 0.089–0.19
 % Faculty vacancies − 0.12 0.161 − 0.29–0.049
 Faculty years of experience − 0.078 0.034* − 0.15–− 0.0057
 Student to core faculty ratio 0.0036 0.203 − 0.0019–0.0091
 % Specialist faculty 0.022 0.740 − 0.11–0.15
 % Faculty of color 0.022 0.802 − 0.15–0.20
 % Part-time faculty 0.056 0.260 − 0.041–0.15
 % Funded faculty − 0.034 0.226 − 0.089–0.021
 % Faculty with an academic doctoral degree − 0.0013 0.360 − 0.0041–0.0015
 % Faculty time devoted to teaching in the entry-level program 2.9 × 10−7 1.000 − 9.4 × 10−4–9.4 × 10−4
 % Faculty time devoted to scholarship − 0.0025 0.235 − 0.0066–0.0016
 % Faculty time devoted to clinical practice 0.0033 0.187 − 0.0016–0.0083
 Number of peer-reviewed publications per faculty FTE − 0.014 0.532 − 0.059–0.031
Program characteristics
 Total cost of the program to students 0.040 0.203 − 0.022–0.10
 Program expenses per student 0.048 0.146 − 0.017–0.11
 Program length − 0.17 0.173 − 0.40–0.072
 Time in didactic education 0.017 0.503 − 0.033–0.068
 Time in clinical education − 0.041 0.463 − 0.15–0.068
 Number of students 0.10 0.072 − 0.0089–0.21
 Year accredited 0.051 0.362 − 0.059–0.16
Control variables
 Year
  2012 − 0.035 0.077 − 0.074–0.0038
  2013 − 0.043 0.038* − 0.084–− 0.0024
  2014 − 0.020 0.418 − 0.070–0.029
  2015 − 0.035 0.170 − 0.086–0.015
  2016 − 0.034 0.225 − 0.088–0.021
  2017 − 0.034 0.272 − 0.095–0.027
 Degree
  DPT 0.056 0.341 − 0.053–0.17
  MPT − 0.073 0.324 − 0.22–0.072
  MS − 0.12 0.414 − 0.42–0.17
  MSPT 0.057 0.716 − 0.25–0.37
 Curriculum model
  Guide-based 0.14 0.493 − 0.27–0.56
  Hybrid 0.11 0.526 − 0.24–0.47
  Lifespan-based − 0.026 0.901 − 0.44–0.39
  Modified problem-based 0.087 0.651 − 0.29–0.46
  Systems-based 0.12 0.513 − 0.24–0.48
  Traditional 0.18 0.315 − 0.18–0.55

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Dickson, T., Zafereo, J. Faculty and programmatic influences on the percentage of graduates of color from professional physical therapy programs in the United States. Adv in Health Sci Educ (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10459-020-09980-z

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Keywords

  • Academic capitalism
  • Accreditation
  • Faculty of color
  • Graduate student retention
  • Panel analysis
  • Physical therapy education
  • Students of color