Danny McMillian, PT, DSc
The American Council of Academic Physical Therapy (ACAPT) has determined that physical therapy (PT) education and practice has fallen short of “representation of the general population”. This lack of diversity compromises access to rehabilitation among under-represented minorities (URM), thus perpetuating the suffering from disease. Using the ACAPT definition of URM, we encompass not only traditional racial and ethnic groups, but also low socioeconomic status, geographically underrepresented, and educationally disadvantaged groups. Lack of resources leads to decreased levels of physical activity, compounded by lack of access to care within URM areas, and has been linked to the perpetuation of sedentary diseases. The problem is magnified by the disproportionate prevalence of those diseases among URMs.
As future physical therapists, we are working to better understand the drivers of our profession’s diversity problem, theorize solutions, and propose tangible steps to bring greater diversity to our profession and access to care for our communities. The following short term and long term goals are most relevant to eradicate these issues. Short term solutions include increasing cultural competency within our programs to improve URM student experiences and increasing competency for working professionals to address microaggressions, implicit bias, and cultural sensitivity. Long term solutions include increased recruitment of URMs within the realm of PT through admissions strategies, increased exposure of URMs to PT as a career option, and strategies for retention of URM students. Other long term strategies include reducing barriers to enrollment, reducing cost, and continued research on the topic in regards to PT.
University of Puget Sound
Janove, Miriam; Aguliar, Isaac; and Knapp, Alex, "Diversifying Physical Therapy: Recruitment and Retention of Under-represented Minorities to Improve Patient Outcomes" (2018). Physical Therapy Research Symposium. 38.