Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT)


Physical Therapy

First Committee Member

Merrill Landers

Graduate Faculty Representative

J. Wesley McWhorter

Number of Pages



Background and Purpose:Physical therapy (PT) is an essential component of the healthcare system in providing a comprehensive treatment plan for patients with functional limitations. The demand for physical therapy services is projected to expand in the next eight years, leading to an increased need for practicing physical therapists. The Mountain States plus Washington State (MSPWS) demonstrate the greatest shortage of therapists and are considered to be medically underserved. The purpose of this study was to determine the retention rates of resident and non-resident physical therapy graduates of public universities in the MSPWS and to determine which factors influenced their employment decisions.

Subjects: Two hundred and forty two graduates of physical therapy education programs (PTEP) from six public universities located in the MSPWS participated in the study. The participants’ ages ranged from 25 to 55 years old and included 159 females, 82 males, and 1 individual who did not indicate a gender.

Methods: A 10-question internet survey was developed and distributed to graduates of PTEPs. The department chairs of each PTEP as well as individuals who had associated with graduates of these PTEPs helped to distribute the survey to participants.

Results: Resident graduates were 5.2 times more likely than non-resident graduates to accept employment in the state from which they received their PT degree after graduation. Family and spouse played an important role in employment choice and was the most frequent option selected. Female residents were 2.4 times more likely than male residents to obtain employment in the state in which they received their PT education.

Discussion and Conclusion: The results of this study suggest that resident graduates within the MSPWS are more likely than non-resident graduates to accept employment in the state from which they graduated.


College graduates – Employment; Employment selections; Health and environmental sciences; Medically underserved areas; Non-resident graduates; Physical therapy programs; Physical therapists – Supply and demand; Resident graduates; Retention; West (U.S.)


Demography, Population, and Ecology | Physical Therapy | Work, Economy and Organizations

File Format


Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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