Influence of Prerequisite Courses in Physical Therapist Education

Purpose/Hypothesis : Discussion continues within physical therapy education on standardizing the pre-requisite courses for admission into any physical therapy (PT) program. A core set of natural science courses (biology, chemistry, physics, anatomy and physiology) is usually recommended. However, little evidence exists as to whether or not this core is essential for success in a PT program or success on passing the licensing examination the first time. The purpose of this study was to determine if there were any differences between those students admitted under the more traditional natural science prerequisites vs. newer prerequisites in PT basic science courses thought to correspond with the typical prerequisite courses, overall program grade point average (GPA) and first-time pass on the national licensing exam.Number of Subjects : 280Materials/Methods : Permission from the university Institutional Review Board was obtained. Admission transcripts of the matriculating students were examined to determine the prerequisite courses used in the application. The students were divided into 2 groups: New (6 science courses from natural and/or life science fields) or Traditional (having 2 courses in biology, chemistry, physics, and one anatomy and one physiology). The grades for PT anatomy I and II, physiology/pathophysiology I and II, kinesiology, and electrotherapy courses (AnatI, AnatII, PhysioI, PhysioII, Kines, Electro respectively) as well as the overall program GPA were recorded. All letter grades were converted to GPA on the 4-point scale. Whether or not the graduate passed the licensure exam the first time was recorded. Analyses: A MANOVA with Bonferroni adjustment (p<0.007) was run on the grades and overall GPA. Chi-square was used for significance (p<0.05) between groups and first-time pass.Results : There were 133 in the New group and 147 students in the Traditional group. There were no significant differences found between the two groups on any of the variables. The means of the two groups were almost identical for several of the variables: 3.715 (+0.41) vs. 3.761 (+0.391) for New vs. Traditional in AnatI; 3.72 (+0.437) vs. 3.675 (+0.487) for New vs. Traditional in PhysioI, and 3.761 (+0.219) vs. 3.759 (+.213) New vs. Traditional on Overall GPA for example. The Chi-square between groups on first-time pass was not significant at 0.202.Conclusions : There were no statistically significant differences in academic performance nor passing the first time on the licensure exam between those students admitted with the natural science core courses usually recommended and those students admitted with varying natural and/or life science courses.Clinical Relevance : Before deciding on a standardized core of prerequisite courses, more evidence is needed to support using the traditional set of courses as perquisites for admission into PT programs. Courses in the life sciences (or a combination) may serve as well as natural science courses in helping PT students be successful within a program and on the licensure exam.

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  • Control #: 1725784
  • Type: Poster
  • Event/Year: CSM2014
  • Authors: Susan A. Chinworth
  • Keywords: Physical Therapy Admissions

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