Strengthening the acute care curriculum: The effect on physical therapy students over a decade

Megan J. Sabatke, Ashley M. Young, Audrey M. Johnson, Joan Darbee, Kirby P. Mayer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: The purpose of this study was to describe the effect of acute care curriculum changes on a university's doctor of physical therapy (DPT) graduates by aggregating quantitative data from 2 academic surveys. Methods: This was a retrospective study describing physical therapist students' perspective, confidence, and employment in acute care physical therapy using data from 2 academic surveys administered to graduates from a DPT program. Results: From 2010 to 2018, 569 students graduated from the DPT program with a median of 100% (interquartile range 97%-100.5%) response rate for the self-assessment survey and a median of 38% (interquartile range 33%-48%) completion of the graduate outcome survey. The majority of DPT graduates self-reported being at or above expected level of competence with cardiopulmonary and complex patients, which appeared to increase from 77.4% and 88.7% in 2012 to 97% and 100% in 2018, respectively. Similar increasing trends were noted with the number of first jobs in the acute care setting (+5.4%) and interest (+9.1%) in the acute care setting, but not as consistently. DPT graduates' level of comfort in the acute care setting did not change over time. Conclusions: Curricular changes devised to enhance acute care physical therapy training in a program's DPT curriculum may have led to graduates reporting increased competency in the unique skill set needed to work in this setting. DPT programs require the continued assessment of educational requirements and competencies to fulfill the growing need for physical therapists in the acute care setting.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Acute Care Physical Therapy
StateAccepted/In press - 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Academy of Acute Care Physical Therapy.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Rehabilitation
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'Strengthening the acute care curriculum: The effect on physical therapy students over a decade'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this