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Impact of a Leadership Thread on Doctor of Physical Therapist Education

Eigsti, Heidi J., PT, DPT, PhD, PCS; Davis, Alice M., PT, DPT, OCS

Journal of Physical Therapy Education: December 2018 - Volume 32 - Issue 4 - p 376–381
doi: 10.1097/JTE.0000000000000066
Research Paper

Background and Purpose. Health care systems worldwide are investing considerable resources in leadership development programs.1–4 Yet there is limited evidence as to the effectiveness of leadership training in graduate health care education. The purpose of this study was to investigate the impact of a leadership curricular thread on an entry-level doctor of physical therapist (DPT) program.

Design. This study was a prospective repeated measure design.

Methods. Participants were 210 students (women (60%), mean age = 25.33 years (3.71) from the graduating classes of 2015, 2016, and 2017. All participants took the online Leadership Practices Inventory Self5 in their fourth semester and last semester of an 8-semester DPT program.

Results. There was a significant improvement in all five of Kouzes and Posner's exemplary leadership practices over time; Model the Way (mean difference = 5.24 [6.80], P = .0001), Inspire a Shared Vision (mean difference = 7.15[8.82], P = .0001), Challenge the Process (mean difference = 6.86 [8.38], P = .0001), Enable Others to Act (mean difference = 3.83[5.36], P = .0001), and Encourage the Heart (mean difference = 3.83 [8.51], P = .0001).

Conclusions. The findings support that a focused leadership thread integrated into a 3-year DPT program can have a positive impact on student leadership behaviors.

Heidi J. Eigsti is an associate professor, Regis University Reuckert-Hartman College of Health Professions, School of Physical Therapy, 3333 Regis Blvd. G-4, Denver, CO, 80210 ( Please address all correspondence to Heidi J. Eigsti.

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Alice M. Davis is an associate professor at Regis University Reuckert-Hartman College of Health Professions, School of Physical Therapy, Denver, Colorado.

Received January 21, 2018

Accepted July 19, 2018

Copyright2018 (C) Academy of Physical Therapy Education, APTA
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