Clinical Education and Cultural Diversity in Physical Therapy: Clinical Performance of Minority Student Physical Therapists and the Expectations of Clinical Instructors

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Clinical education is an integral part of preparation for the profession of physical therapy and the role of the clinical instructor is critical. The purpose of this study was to investigate clinical instructors' expectations of student physical therapists with different ethnic backgrounds and the clinical performance of the students as assessed using a modification of the Generic Abilities Assessment. For this study, individuals with a Caucasian ethnic background who were raised in the United States were considered as the majority. The remaining individuals (minority) were subdivided into five groups: African American, Hispanic, Asian/Pacific Islander, Caucasian from outside the United States, and Other. Clinical instructors reported their experiences with students from different ethnic backgrounds, their expectation of students' performance, and recollections of specific weaknesses in performance. From the 216 surveys distributed, 192 clinical instructors responded. Fifty-seven percent had supervised a minority student, with a mean of three students each. While 4% reported that they expected a higher standard from majority students, 17% noted a difference in performance between majority and minority students. Results from this study suggest that minority students would benefit from further preparation in communication and interpersonal skills but they are stronger than majority students in stress management and the effective use of time and resources. Copyright © Taylor & Francis LLC.

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Physiotherapy Theory and Practice





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First Department

Rehabilitation Services