Minority recruitment and retention strategies in physical therapist education programs
Splenser, Pablo E
Minority students are currently as underrepresented in physical therapy as they are in other health care professions.1-9 The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) defines the terms “minority” and “minorities” as members of racial and ethnic groups, identified as African American or black, Asian American, Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander, American Indian or Alaskan, and Hispanic or Latino.10 In this study, “student underrepresentation” for each ethnicity/race is defined was having a lower percentage of representation in the profession when compared with the percentage found for that ethnicity/race in the general US population. Although Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are not considered under-represented, they were included in this study for the purpose of comparing their current representation with the contrasting under-representation of the other minorities.6,8,11-13
Although the number of minority students in physical therapy programs has increased over the years, from 6% in 1990 to about 12.9% in 1999, this increase has been significantly slower than the increase of minorities in the general US population (MJ Harris, Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education [CAPTE] e-mail, March 1, 2000; E King, American Physical Therapy Association (APTAI, written communication, March 2000). The US Census Bureau predicted for the first years of the 21st century that 30% of the US population will be composed of minorities.5,10 Furthermore, by the year 2030, 40% of the population is expected to be composed of minorities.4 Thus, a logical expectation is that the percentage of minority physical therapist students should closely mirror the percentage of minorities in the general US population. As these minority students graduate and become part of the physical therapy workforce, they represent a large portion of the minority physical therapy clinicians. However, as indicated by the predictions of the US Census Bureau, the clientele of physical therapists continues to diversify at a faster rate than the physical therapy workforce. This results in a persistent shortage in the number of minority physical therapists who are available to practice in environments with a diverse client base.
The Need for Diversity
Several studies have shown that race and ethnicity are cultural barriers in patient-physician partnership and effective communicationA14 Not only can these language and cultural barriers undermine patient adherence to treatment programs, participation, and cooperation during treatment and decrease the effectiveness of physical therapy intervention, but they can also confuse and sometimes prevent the meaningful translation from the clinic to functional activities needed at home.4,15 Having the same cultural background as the client base allows professional communication and bonding with patients to be easier and more effective.7 Therefore, it has been suggested that minority practitioners, by virtue of their heightened cultural awareness, may provide the most appropriate health care to minority patients.3-5,16
The demographic changes in the nation’s minority population make recruitment of minority students in the health care professions a priority. The rapid minority growth combined with the lack of minority health professionals has created shortages in health care services in the nation’s urban centers where a large percentage of minorities live.’6 Since minority health care professionals are more likely to serve communities that are economically dlsadvantaged and of their same ethnic origins, they are a key resource to combat the health-related problems of our increasingly diverse culture.4’5′?’ A diverse staff has the opportunity to draw on the different experiences, perspectives, skills, cultures, and knowledge represented by individuals of different races, ages, cultures, abilities, and orientations.’? Having different perspectives and experiences brings new approaches to solving problems, provides new insights in responding to patients’ needs, and improves the organization’s ability to be creative and innovative in responding to change.
Recognizing the need for minority representation In the physical therapy profession, the APTA House of Delegates adopted the Plan to Foster Minority Representation and Participation in Physical Therapy in 1982.'” This plan recognizes the importance of cultural diversity to academics, to the profession, and to the community in general.’?
Proposed Reasons for Minority Under-representatlon
Many authors have tried to explain the underrepresentation of minorities in physical therapy and health care professional programs. The underrepresentation of minorities affects not only health care professional programs such as physical therapy but also medicine, dentistry, and nursing. Studies have identified ? main reasons linked to the low representation of minorities in higher education: (1) financial cost, (2) academic preparation, and (3) psychosocial factors.
Among the financial reasons, African Americans, Hispanic Americans, and Native Americans are more likely to be economically disadvantaged than Caucasians and thus live in less afmicnt communities, which usually translates to fewer educational opportunities.2,9,11,18-20 In addition, minority students overall tend to be unaware of financial aid resources available to them, such as loans, grants, and scholarships.20
Academic factors also have major influences on the under-represcntation of minorities in higher education. The low enrollment of minorities in science and math courses starting as early as junior high is commonly reported as a major reason for the under-representation of minorities.6,9,11,19,21 Minority students generally score lower on standardized tests, such as the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) and Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT). Grade point average (GPA) scores also tend to be lower for minorities.20,22 The low test and academic performance may reflect the minority student’s disadvantagcd academic preparation.
Research studies have associated poor counseling with the under-reprcscntation of minorities, which results in minorities being less aware of career options, financial aid availability, and college career requirements, especially in health care careers such as physical thcrapy.5,7-9,21,23,24 In addition to the shortage of high-quality academic guidance suggested for minorities, there are few academic enrichment and preprofessional programs in existence in the allied health care professions-programs that could be helpful in aiding prospective physical therapist minority students in improving their academic performance. Enrichment programs, which have shown to be successful, already exist in medicine, optometry, dentistry, veterinary, osteopathie medicine, pharmacy, and podiatry.24
The most recurrent psychosocial factor related to the under-representation of minority students in physical therapy described in the literature is the shortage of positive minority role models and minority full-time faculty members7,9,12,19,20 A factor associated with a decreased perceived value in Ae importance and usefulness of education by minorities is the lack of family members, friends, and acquaintances who have pursued higher education opportunities J Health care professions, unlike the professions of dentistry, medicine, and law, have not received much prestige or attention in minority communities.25 However, Baker and Lyons26 stated that minorities might be under-represented in allied health care careers simply because other fields such as computer science and communications might be more appealing to them.
The under-representation of minorities due to academic, financial, and psychological reasons just described has not gone unnoticed.2,4,27-29 Court decisions and legislative efforts have mandated that institutions of higher education correct the undcrrepresentatlon of minorities.27 Among the legislative efforts, affirmative action programs and early outreach programs are commonly reported in the literature as successful in increasing the number of minorities.14,30-32 However, one monumental court decision and 2 enactments have recently curtailed the efforts to increase diversity in university education, including physical therapy. The court decision was Hopwood v University of Texas School of Law, which affected the states of Texas, Mississippi, and Louisiana.17,33 The 2 enactments were Proposition 209 in California and Proposition 200 in Washington.17,33 Basically, these court rulings forbid state universities from using race as a factor in admissions.
Minority Recruitment Strategies
Colleges and universities have developed various programs and interventions that assist minority students in applying and enrolling. These programs exist at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. The literature is filled with minority-aimed recruitment and retention strategies that have been used by various universities and colleges. The literature lists several recruitment strategies commonly utilized by universities and colleges for recruitment purposes.2,3,5,9,11,19-21,23,25,34 These include assistance in completion of applications, talks with parent groups, flexible admission policies, preprofessional enrichment programs, recruitment at junior high school through university level, and others.
Minority Retention Strategies
As with minority recruitment strategies, the literature lists numerous retention strategies used by universities and colleges that have been identified by various research studies to help minorities to graduate.2’9,i9.2i.23,34 These strategies Include, but are not limited to, prematriculation preparation courses; individualized educational planning; support systems with peers, faculty, and clinicians; stress management counseling; time management strategies; and study and learning skills. Hasklns and Rose-St Prix? revealed that physical therapist programs put considerable effort into retention. Retention strategies have helped health care professions students succeed in their allied health care educational programs and Improve their performance on national liccnsure and certification examinations.9’20’21’23 ^ It is important to note that some strategics, such as minority full-time faculty members and role models, preprofessional programs, and being in close connection with families of minority students, can serve as both recruitment and retention strategies.
Hasklns and Rose-St Prix Study
In 1994, Hasklns and Rose-St Prix2 identified the interventions used by programs that had success in recruiting, enrolling, and graduating minority students. They reported that less than 50% of the programs they surveyed kept data on minority applicants in 1994, thus revealing that some physical therapist programs have little commitment to recruit minorities. These researchers also discovered that physical therapist programs averaged less than 3% minority graduates per year, that the number of programs that set quantitative goals for enrollment of minorities was small, and that there were very few minority full-time faculty members in physical therapy education. Since they had a small sample size (N=22), Haskins and Rose-St Prix encouraged further research to investigate all physical therapist programs accredited by CAPTE, to examine the efforts of these programs to increase minorities in their student population, and to identify the most successful approaches to minority recruitment and retention.
The purposes of this study were to replicate the study conducted by Rose-St Prix and to determine whether there was a direct relationship between the number of recruitment and retention strategies with the number of minority students in all the United States-based CAPTE-accredited physical therapist programs in 1999. In addition, this research study examined whether there was a direct relationship between the number of minority full-time faculty and the number of minority students in physical therapist programs.
Six hypotheses were examined in this research study:
1. The greater the number of recruitment strategies implemented by the physical therapist program, the greater the number of minority students who applied to the physical therapist program for the class of 1999.
2. The greater the number of recruitment strategies implemented by the physical therapist program, the greater the number of minority students who enrolled in the first year of professional study for the class of 1999.
3. The greater the number of retention strategies implemented by the physical therapist program, the greater number of minority students for the class of 1999 who graduated in 1999.
4. The greater the number of minority full-time faculty, the greater the number of minority applicants for the class of 1999.
5. The greater the number of minority full-time faculty, the greater the number of minority students who enrolled in the first year of professional study for the class of 1999.
6. The greater the number of minority full-time faculty, the greater the number of minority students for the class of 1999 who graduated in 1999.
The Research Sample/Sampling Method
The sample used for this research study consisted of the 76 respondents out of the 173 contacted physical therapist programs in the United States listed as accredited by CAPTE in 1999.35 This research study included only CAPTE-accreditcd physical therapist education programs because the accreditation status signifies the program meets established and nationally accepted standards of scope, quality, and relevance. Although considered a United States-based CAPTK-accredited physical therapist program, the University of Puerto Rico was eliminated from this study because most of its students are Hispanic, and thus this program represents an atypical group.2 In order to utilize this sample, approval by the institutional review board at Southwest Texas State University was obtained.
With permission from Haskins and Rose-St Prix, the survey questionnaire utilized for this project was based on their research questionnaire, which has been validated through their pilot study.2 Because the survey instrument used for this research study was revised slightly from the Haskins and Rose-St Prix instrument, a pilot study was performed to validate the modified instrument. The participants in this pilot study consisted of 11 CAPTE-accredited physical therapist programs across the nation. They were chosen by convenience. These participants were chosen because of personal acquaintance with the director of the physical therapy program at Southwest Texas State University. This provided a greater likelihood of receiving a response from the recipients of the pilot study and of obtaining constructive feedback. As per suggestions of the respondents of the pilot study, the survey questionnaire was modified slightly to clarify the acquisition of information. The data provided by the programs that participated in the pilot study were incorporated into this research study.
The final questionnaire sent to the CAPTE-accredited programs requested respondents to provide: (1) name of the institution, (2) state in which institution was located, (3) degree offered (ie, bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate), (4) length of the program (in years and months), (5) classification of the institution (ic, public, private, or other), (6) average annual cost of tuition, and (7) total number of full-time faculty and their ethnic/racial breakdown.
Regarding the Class of 1999, the questionnaire requested information on: (1) the total number of applicants, (2) the total number of students who enrolled in the first year of professional study, and (3) the total number of students who graduated in 1999. For each of these categories relating to the Class of 1999, the programs were asked to provide ethnic/racial breakdowns. For those students who did not graduate, respondents were asked to comment on the reasons for failure to graduate. Lastly, respondents were asked to indicate whether their program participated in any “special efforts” to recruit and retain minorities, as defined by one of the following: (1) the program engaged in specific recruitment or retention strategies addressed toward minority students at the program level or (2) the program actively participated in an institutional minority student program.2 Those physical therapist programs that performed special efforts were asked to select from a list provided the recruitment and retention strategies implemented by their program and to discuss any further recruitment and retention strategies performed by their program.
Data Collection Procedure
An e-mail message was sent to the program directors of 173 physical therapist education programs, using the e-mail address listed on the CAPTE list of accredited programs. Addresses were verified with a telephone call to each program. Each e-mail message included a link to the Web site containing the questionnaire. After 2 weeks, nonrespondents were sent a reminder, again via e-mail. A final e-mail reminder was sent 2 weeks later. The nonrespondents at this point were sent a hard-copy questionnaire via mail with a self-addressed, postage-paid envelope. This hard-copy questionnaire constituted the final data collection procedure.
The data for this study were processed using the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences.* The alpha level was set at .05. Demographic analysis included frequency counts of the number of schools in the 4 regions, institutional classification, degree offered, year of admission, and the breakdown of ethnicity/race for full-time faculty, applicants, first-year students, and graduates and reasons why students failed to graduate.
Analysis also included the frequency counts of whether special efforts were made to recruit or retain minorities, of recruitment and retention strategies for each physical therapist program, and of each recruitment and retention strategy. The mean, mode, and median of the length of program, the annual cost of tuition, and the total number of full-time faculty, applicants, first-year students, and graduates in the year 1999 were computed.
Pearson product moment correlations were used to determine whether utilizing more minority recruitment strategies would result in higher numbers of minority applicants and minority first-year students. Pearson product moment correlations were also used to determine whether utilizing more retention strategies would result in a higher number of minority graduate students. Finally, Pearson product moment correlations were used to determine whether the number of minority full-time faculty members was correlated with the numbers of minority applicants, minority first-year students, and graduating minority students.
One hundred seventy-three CAPTK-accredited programs, from 45 different states, were sent survey questionnaires. The final response rate was 43.9% CAPTE-accredited physical therapist programs representing 73.3% of the United States. The majority of the programs that responded were public institutions (54.0%). In addition, the vast majority of respondents provided entry-level education at the level of a master’s degree (80.3%). Although 10 programs offered more than one degree (ie, combination of bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees), no program offered all 3 types of physical therapy degrees. The year of admission for the Class of 1999 ranged from 1993 to 1998, with 1996 and 1997 the most common years of admission (Table 1). The median length for the programs was 2 years 6 months, with an average annual cost of tuition of $12,159. In all categories (ie, full-time faculty, applicants, first-year students, and graduate students), Caucasians outnumbered all minorities combined. The percentage of all minorities was 6.2% for applicants, 10.8% for first-year students, 9.8% for graduated students, and 7.1% for full-time faculty (Table 2).
Only 56.6% of the programs supplied information regarding their applicant pool and their ethnic/racial composition. Of the 33 schools that did provide information about applicant pool composition, 44.2% of all the data provided was classified under the term “unknown” because these programs did not possess the race/ethnicity of these individuals. Of those individuals whose ethnicity/race was provided by the programs, which constituted 55.8% of the data gathered, 49.6% were Caucasians and the remaining 6.2% consisted of all the minority applicants combined (Table 2). The numhcr of minority applicants was less man the 30% proportion of minorities in the US general population. Only 4.7% of the schools had applicant pools of at least 30% minorities.
Minority First-Year Students
Close to 90% of the 76 programs provided the breakdown of ethnicity/race for the students enrolled in their first year of professional study. Of those individuals who were enrolled in their first year of professional study for the Class of 1999, 81.2% were Caucasians, 10.8% were minorities, and 8.0% were students whose ethnic/racial composition was unknown (Table 2). As was the case with minority applicants, the percentage of 10.8% minorities enrolled in 1999 falls short of the 30% mark of minorities in the general population predicted by the US Census Bureau for the early years of the 21st century. Of the 68 schools that provided information on the ethnicity/racial breakdown of the first-year students, only 7.4% of programs had at least 30% minorities. The percentages of applicants who were turned down for admission to physical therapist programs, in terms of ethnicity and race, were fairly similar, 72.9% for Caucasians and 71.1% for all minorities combined (Table 3).
Minority Recruitment Strategies
About 78% of programs performed special efforts in recruiting minorities. The mean number of recruitment strategies per program for those programs was 7.3 strategies per program. Only 4 groups of recruitment strategics were used by more than 45% of the physical therapist programs (Table 4). These recruitment strategics were: (1) recruiting at the junior high school, high school, junior college, and/or university/college levels, (2) doing health career fairs and workshops, (3) keeping In touch with potential minority students, and (4) reflecting cultural diversity as a program goal. Other special efforts Included assistance in completion of admission and financial aid applications, preprofessional enrichment programs, use of positive minority role models, recruitment at traditionally minority colleges, and open houses at the physical therapy program.
Hypotheses 1 and 2
In the present study, having more recruitment strategies was not significantly correlated (r=.210) with having a higher percentage of minority applicants. In turn, having a higher number of minority recruitment strategies was not significantly correlated (r=.119) with havingahigher number of minority first-year students. On the other hand, those programs that engaged in special efforts to recruit minority students were significantly correlated (r=.353, P
Out of the 76 programs that responded to the questionnaire, 92% provided information on the racial/ethnic breakdown of their 1999 graduating class. The percentage of minorities who graduated in 1999 was 9.8%, while Caucasians accounted for 82.4% and 7.8% of students’ ethnicity/race was unknown (Table 2). The percentage of minority graduate students for the Class of 1999 did not reach the 30% mark of minorities in the general population either. Only 7.1% of the programs that provided information for the 1999 graduates had graduating minority percentages greater or equal than 30%. There was a drop of 1% in the number of minorities who were enrolled in the first year of professional study to compared with those minorities who graduated in 1999. The 1% drop represented 52 minority students who did not graduate in 1999 (Table 5). Forty-five percent of the programs did not comment on why students failed to graduate, and therefore these programs were listed under “unknown” (Table 6).
Minority Retention Strategies
The mean number of retention strategies per program for those programs that did perform retention strategies was 12.6, or about 13 strategies per program. About 51% of physical therapist programs performed special efforts in retaining minorities, and 48.7% of the schools did not do special efforts in retaining minorities (Table 7). Only 4 retention strategy groups were used by more than 40% of the physical therapist programs. These retention strategies were: (1) counseling services, academic support services, and career services, (2) using support of peers, full-time faculty, and clinical staff, (3) monitoring students’ GPA, and (4) discussing cultural differences in the curriculum (Table 7). Other special efforts included inclusion of minority role models or mentors, acculturation activities within the profession, sensitivity training with nonminority faculty, flexible retention policies, and competency-based testing.
The greater the number of retention strategies by physical therapist programs was significantly associated with having a greater total percentage of minority graduate students (r=.382, P
Minority Full-time Faculty
All of the physical therapist education programs that responded to the survey questionnaire provided the ethnic/racial breakdown of their full-time faculty. The results of the present study yielded 7.1% full-time minority faculty in 76 programs (Table 2). Sixty-one percent of the programs had no full-time minority members, and only 39.0% of the programs had at least one full-time minority faculty member. The mean number of minority full-time faculty per physical therapist education program was less than one. Only one school had at least 30% full-time minority faculty composition.
This study showed a significant correlation (r=.426, P
In 1994, Haskins and Rose-St Prix2 reported thai less than $0% of the programs in the nation kept data on minority applicants. The present study showed a similar percentage ($6.6%). Therefore, in the last 6 years, there has only been a small improvement in the knowledge of applicant racial/ethnic composition. Walker and Brand** also reported this scarcity of data. Of the 33 schools that provided information about applicant pool composition, 44.2% of all the data provided was classified under Ae term “unknown” because these programs did not possess the race/ethnicity of these individuals. Some of the possible reasons why this information was not available were the legislative rulings such as the Hopwood decision, Proposition 209, and Proposition 200. These court decisions hive made it more difficult for physical therapist programs to keep track of their applicant pools, because they dictate that educational programs in the states affected by the decision may not use the race or ethnicity of the applicant as a factor to grant acceptance. i?’33 in 1989, Watts and Lecca” also reported that there was a small pool of eligible minority applicants. Thus, from 1989 to 1999, a time period of 10 years, minority applicant pools appeared to have changed little.
Minority First-Year Students
The percentage of minority first-year students was directly related to the percentage of minority applicants. It follows that programs that have a small number of minority applicants will have a small number of minority first-year students. One possible explanation for the low number of minority students enrolled in their first year of physical therapist education is that minority students many be denied acceptance at a greater rate than Caucasians. The percentage of minorities and Caucasians who were denied acceptance for the Class of 1999 was about equal (Table 3).
Minority Recruitment Strategies
Haskins and Rose-St Prix2 have stressed that those programs that have implemented recruitment strategies have an increased minority enrollment when compared with those programs that have not implemented recruitment strategies. The programs that had the philosophy of performing special efforts to recruit minority students versus simply completing their general recruitment efforts for all students had a greater likelihood of having an applicant pool with more minority students. The 4 most common recruitment studies obtained in the presenl study match those obtained by llaskins and Rose-St Prix in 1994.2 Thus, llie most common recruitment and retention strategies in both 1994 and 1999 remain the same ones (Table 4).
Hypotheses 1 and 2
In this study, having more recruitment strategics was not significantly correlated with having a higher percentage of minority applicants. In contrast, those programs that engaged in special efforts to recruit minority students were significantly correlated with having a higher number of minority applicants. Therefore, having the philosophy of completing special efforts to recruit minority students versus simply conducting general recruitment efforts for all students was related to a greater likelihood of having an applicant pool with more minority students. It follows that programs that have a small number of minority applicants will have a small number of minority first-year students. Therefore, in this research study, it was not surprising that the hypothesis that the higher number of minority recruitment strategics was not significantly correlated with having a higher number of minority students. This finding was true regardless of whether or not the physical therapist programs engaged In special efforts to recruit minority students. Most physical therapist programs continued to utilize the same recruitment and retention strategics that were widely used 5 years previously. There is a need to enhance the current recruitment and retention strategies used or to employ new ones, which may result in more effectively accomplishing the goal of increasing the number of minority students in physical therapist education.
The percentage of students who did not graduate in 1999 for every minority group was higher than that for Caucasians (Table 5). These results are in accordance with those of studies done by Baker and Lyons26 and Zca et al.36 This loss of graduating minority students speaks to the need of having retention strategies specifically designed for minority students, since these are the students with the highest chance of not graduating. The main reason why students failed to graduate (61.6%) was recorded as “unknown” (Table 6). Thus, more than half of the programs did not keep track of the data regarding why students failed to graduate in 1999. These data are essential to measure the success of retention strategies, since these retention strategies are designed with the purpose of correcting factors that can cause students to drop out.
Minority Retention Strategies
The most common retention strategies identified in this study match those found by Ilaskins and Rose-St Prix2 in 1994. Both studies had among the 4 most common retention strategies the following: providing academic counseling, discussing cultural differences in the curriculum, and monitoring GPA. Thus, little has changed in terms of the most frequently utilized retention strategies from 1994 to 1999. Both the study by Haskins and Rose-St Prix and the present study had more than 50% of the programs implement retention strategies, which indicates that physical therapist programs do invest effort in retaining minorities.
Having a higher number of retention strategies was significantly associated with having a higher number of minority graduate students. Unfortunately, evidence has shown that there is a lack of recruitment and retention strategies utilized by several physical therapist programs.2’4,9
Minority Full-time Faculty
According to the study conducted by Haskins and Rose-St Prix,2 there were only 9% minority full-time faculty in their survey sample. In our study, the percentage was 7.1% minority full-time faculty. This illustrates that the deficit of minority representation at the full-time faculty level was similar in 1994 and in 1999. The percentage obtained for this study may suggest that the percentage of minority full-time faculty may have even decreased from 1994 to 1999. According to the US Census Bureau, the 30% mark signifies the predicted percentage of minorities in the general population in the first years of the 21st century.5,14 Thus, it is reasonable to expect a similar percentage for the number of minority full-time faculty. However, this was not the case.
Many articles7’9’12’19 have described that the most recurrent psychological factor for the underrepresentation of minorities is the shortage of minority role models and minority full-time faculty members. The results of this study indicate that having a high number of minority full-time faculty members is related to having a high number of minority applicants, but not to first-year students or graduates. In contrast, a study by Gabard et al3 showed that the lack of ethnic diversity within the full-time faculty of physical therapist education programs did not appear to deter students from pursuing physical therapist as a career.
The present study determined that there was a significant correlation between minority full-time faculty and minority applicants. This result may demonstrate that minority students are considering minority full-time faculty as a factor in applying to a physical therapist program. However, the presence of minority full-time faculty was not significantly associated with having a greater number of minority first-year students or having a greater number of graduating minorities.
This study involved only the Class of 1999. Therefore, caution should be taken when making inferences to other years. In addition, this study demonstrated the association of variables. Thus, the assumption of a causal relationship cannot be made. Another limitation was that there was less than 50% response rate. Thus, the trends discussed in this article may not be able to be generalized to the population of all physical therapist programs. A final limitation was that the ethnicity of many students was classified as “unknown.” This classification may be the result of the inability of the respondents to determine with accuracy the race and ethnicity of the students. As a result, the actual number of minority students may vary.
This study adds to the growing body of knowledge that demonstrates that minorities are underrepresented in full-time faculty, applicant, first-year students, and graduates. In accordance with APTA’s Plan to Foster Minority Representation and Participation in Physical Therapy,10 this study also underscores the importance of keeping pertinent information regarding the minority status in physical therapist education programs. The results determined that close to half of the physical therapist education programs do not keep data on the ethnicity/race of their applicant pools. Since the 1994 Haskins and St Rose study2 also indicated that less than 50% of the programs kept this information, there seems to be no progress in determining the minority status in physical therapist education programs through the years. Without these data, it is difficult to examine the effectiveness of minority recruitment strategies.
In addition, more than half of the responding physical therapist programs in this study did not keep data regarding the reasons why students fail to graduate. This information is essential in determining which minority retention strategies arc effective in retaining minority students and fundamental in developing new minority retention strategies. The present study revealed that minority students have a higher likelihood of not graduating with their corresponding physical therapy class. Thus, retention strategies specifically set up to retain minority students are of the essence. Ui addition, since engaging in special efforts to recruit and retain minorities was found to be significant, these results are in accordance with those of Grecnwald and Davis,37 who stated that demonstrating commitment might be the most effective recruitment and retention strategy.
Wc recommend that physical therapist education programs improve their data keeping entailing the ethnicity/race of their applicants. Although Proposition 200, Proposition 209, and the Hopwood decision prohibit the states of California, Washington, Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi from using ethnicity/race as a factor to increase diversity in the physical therapist programs in these states, they do not disallow programs from asking for this information. A disclaimer in the application forms of these institutions should guarantee applicants that providing ethnicity/race information will not be used as a selection factor for acceptance. On the other hand, the remaining 4$ states and other federal territories can legally both ask about and use ethnicity/race to increase the diversity of their programs.17
In addition, physical therapist education programs should Improve their data keeping entailing the reasons why physical therapist students fail to graduate with their corresponding classes. This information is especially important for minority physical therapist students, who are more likely not to graduate from physical therapist education programs. Keeping track of this information is a key in determining successful minority retention strategies and developing new strategies to aid minorities in completing their education.
Most physical therapist programs continue to utilize the same recruitment and retention strategics that were widely used 5 years previously. There is a need to enhance the current recruitment and retention strategies used or to employ new ones, which may result in more effectively accomplishing the goal of increasing the number of minority students in physical therapist education. Future research should be directed toward analyzing each recruitment and retention strategy to determine those that are more successful in recruiting and retaining minority students. Successful strategies could be compared with those strategies that are more frequently utilized by these programs to determine whether successful recruitment and retention strategies correspond to the strategies most frequently utilized by universities. Additionally, comparing the minority representation per state rather than nationally would be more specific to determine the under-representation of minorities, in order to account for state-to-state differences in minority representation.
Even though Haskins and Kose-St Prix2 emphasized that comprehensive programs are most effective at increasing enrollment and graduation, maintaining them can be costly. The present research study revealed the most common recruitment and retention strategies, which physical therapist education programs should consider researching their effectiveness in improving minority representation in this Geld. In developing new recruitment and retention strategies, physical therapist education programs might consider asking all applicants how they became interested in this profession and asking all graduate students what support services (eg, faculty support, outside counseling) helped them through their academic career. This type of questionnaire may shed light on how physical therapist education programs can improve or develop recruitment or retention strategies for individuals interested in pursuing physical therapy as a career.
Copyright Journal of Physical Therapy Education Spring 2003
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