Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 2020



  • APTA defines diversity: “the racial and ethnic populations that are underrepresented in physical therapy education relative to their numbers in the general population, as well as individuals from geographically underrepresented areas, lower economic strata, and educationally disadvantaged backgrounds”
  • 9.7 percent of DPT students identified as URM nationally.
  • In Minnesota, 96.75 percent of persons with PT licenses self identify as White.
  • This study is the directive of the MNPTA


  • Participants were PT/PTA professionals or students from Minnesota.
  • Average Age: 34.17 STD 12.47
  • Four 120 minute focus groups moderated by a PI.
  • Discussed successes, barriers, and experiences encountered throughout their professional, educational, and personal life.
  • Audio was de identified, transcribed, cleaned, and coded line by line into NVIVO 12 (QSR International Pty Ltd, Victoria, Australia) software.
  • Conclusions

    • Primary Themes from the focus groups were: Barriers, Diversity, Grit, Divine Intervention, and Suggestions to Improve Diversity.
    • Subthemes were: Societal Challenges, Academic Experiences/Challenges, Financial Challenges, Diversity Challenges/Struggles, Awareness of Diversity, Need for Diversity in PT, Outreach, Mentorship, and Exposure.
    • Focus group research provided more in depth perspectives regarding diversity within the physical therapy profession.


    • Recommend early and ongoing mentorship and outreach initiatives beginning in primary school to increase awareness of the profession.
    • Sub themes within this study will hopefully assist the MNPTA to create effective programs for URM individuals pursuing the PT/PTA profession.
    • Address health disparities that limit URM from accessing physical therapy services.
    • Future research: to continue this study design with participants from the LGBTQ+ community and the socioeconomically and educationally disadvantaged population.



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