Benchmarking in Academic Physical Therapy: A Multicenter Trial Using the PT-GQ Survey

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5 Scopus citations


Objective. Academic physical therapy has no universal metrics by which educational programs can measure outcomes, limiting their ability to benchmark to their own historical performance, to peer institutions, or to other health care professions. The PT-Graduation Questionnaire (GQ) survey, adapted from the Association of American Medical Colleges’ GQ, addresses this gap by offering both inter-professional insight and fine-scale assessment of physical therapist education. This study reports the first wave of findings from an ongoing multi-site trial of the PT-GQ among diverse academic physical therapy programs, including (1) benchmarks for academic physical therapy, and (2) a comparison of the physical therapist student experience to medical education benchmarks. Methods. Thirty-four doctor of physical therapy (DPT) programs (13.2% nationwide sample) administered the online survey to DPT graduates during the 2019 to 2020 academic year. PT-GQ and Association of American Medical Colleges data were contrasted via Welch’s unequal-variance t test and Hedges g (effect size). Results. A total of 1025 respondents participated in the study (response rate: 63.9%). The average survey duration was 31.8 minutes. Overall educational satisfaction was comparable with medicine, and respondents identified areas of curricular strength (eg, anatomy) and weakness (eg, pharmacology). DPT respondents provided higher ratings of faculty professionalism than medicine, lower rates of student mistreatment, and a lesser impact of within-program diversity on their training. One-third of respondents were less than “satisfied” with student mental health services. DPT respondents reported significantly higher exhaustion but lower disengagement than medical students, along with lower tolerance for ambiguity. Of DPT respondents who reported educational debt, one-third reported debt exceeding $150,000, the threshold above which the DPT degree loses economic power. Conclusions. These academic benchmarks, using the PT-GQ, provided insight into physical therapist education and identified differences between physical therapist and medical student perceptions. Impact. This ongoing trial will establish a comprehensive set of benchmarks to better understand academic physical therapy outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number229
JournalPhysical Therapy
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2021. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the American Physical Therapy Association. All rights reserved.


  • Academic Assessment
  • CAPTE Accreditation
  • Curriculum
  • Debt
  • Student Disengagement
  • Student Empathy
  • Student Exhaustion
  • Student Experience
  • Tolerance for Ambiguity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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