BS- vs MS-prepared physical therapists: Differences in perceived educational preparation and professional values

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Higher Education

First Committee Member

Harland G. Bloland - Committee Chair


This study examined differences in perceptions of educational preparation and values in clinical practice of recently graduated practicing physical therapists regarding four roles of the physical therapist: professional association member, clinical instructor, clinical researcher and autonomous practitioner. There were three groups--first Baccalaureate degree, second Baccalaureate degree, or entry level master's degree in physical therapy. A random sample of 500 physical therapists was obtained. There were 276 persons of 440 who met the criteria who responded to the survey instrument (63% response rate). A self-administered biographical data form and questionnaire constructed by the researcher measured the variables of interest. Reliability of the instrument was strong (ranges from.89-.93), and construct validity was demonstrated by factor analysis.For perceived educational preparation, a significant difference was found for the role of clinical researcher, with the entry level masters group different from both baccalaureate groups. Role incongruity (disparity between what an individual is prepared for educationally with what is found in practice was significant for all 4 roles. All 3 groups demonstrated "overpreparedness" for the roles of professional association member and clinical researcher, and "underpreparedness" for the roles of clinical instructor and autonomous practitioner. A significant interaction was found between physical therapy degree and role incongruity for the role of clinical researcher, with the entry level masters group being significantly different from the first baccalaureate group. Physical therapists with entry level masters' degrees demonstrated the most role incongruity, especially for the role of clinical researcher; they also had the highest perceived values in educational preparation and the lowest perceived values in clinical practice for the 4 roles. Those with a second baccalaureate degree in physical therapy had the highest perceived values in clinical practice for all 4 roles. There was little correlation between the values imparted in the educational environment with the perceived values in clinical practice for the 4 roles examined.


Health Sciences, Education; Health Sciences, Rehabilitation and Therapy; Education, Higher

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