Association Between Self-Rated Leadership Competencies and Experience in Physical Therapy
Lauren Kray, SPT; Courtney Stanger, SPT; Mallory White, SPT; Ashley Witte, SPT; Christina Wisdom, PT, DPT, OCS, CLT
Purpose/Hypothesis: The healthcare industry is experiencing changes due to advances in technology, specialized medical personnel, and complex patient presentations which require medical professionals to fulfill leadership roles. Leadership competencies have been shown to be useful in the quantitative analysis of leadership in health care professionals. Information on leadership competencies for medical professionals, including nurses and physicians, is available, yet information is lacking within physical therapy. To fill this gap, our investigation evaluates the relationship between experience level and self-rating in these competencies in physical therapists and physical therapist students. Subjects: The survey yielded a total of 1,127 physical therapists and physical therapist students from various practice settings and institutions around the United States. Of those subjects, 20.7% were 1st year DPT students, 26.6% were 2nd year DPT students, 24.2% were 3rd year DPT students, and 28.5% were practicing physical therapists. The gender distribution of subjects was 27.1% male, 72.7% female, and 0.3% other. Average years of practice for licensed physical therapists was 18.4 years (± 12). Methods/Materials: An online survey was distributed to current APTA board members, chapter presidents, chairs of various CAPTE accredited physical therapy academic programs, clinic coordinators, APTA Student Core Ambassadors, and via Twitter. Participants were asked to complete the survey and forward it to other physical therapists and physical therapist students. The survey gathered demographics and data including years of practice. The survey was comprised of 22 competencies related to leadership in which participants rated their perceived capability on a 10-point ordinal scale. Participants were asked yes/no questions pertaining to feelings of academic preparedness and self-perception of being a leader. Descriptive statistics were tabulated for each category, and group differences were tested with one-way ANOVA in SPSS. Results: Average range for skills were 6.70 (±1.82) for “delegating tasks to others” capability to 8.78 (± 1.22) for “cooperating” capability on a 10-point scale. Not all categories showed statistical significance between groups, including cooperating, seeking improvement, openness to ideas, time management, and willingness to ask for help. Of the remaining 17 categories, there was statistical significance between students and those with 16+ years of experience, with those with more experience rating themselves higher. The only exception was in the category seeking feedback, comparing 3rd year students to those with 16+ years of experience, in which there was no significance. There were no statistically significant changes in self-ratings after 5 years of PT practice compared to those with more experience. Conclusions: Overall, increased experience level in physical therapy showed increased self-ratings on leadership competencies, with the most significant changes between students and those with 16+ years of experience.