Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT)


Physical Therapy

Advisor 1

Carrie Gillis

First Committee Member

Merrill Landers

Second Committee Member

Daniel Young

Number of Pages



Background: The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) is the professional organization that represents Physical Therapy and exists to promote the needs of society by advocating access and availability of all Physical Therapy services. The Nevada Physical Therapy Association (NVPTA) is a chapter of the APTA that represents the Physical Therapy profession in Nevada. In 2017, only 38.9% of licensed Physical Therapists (PTs) and 7.9% of licensed Physical Therapy Assistants (PTAs) practicing in Nevada were members of the NVPTA. Objective: The purpose of this service-learning project was to explore membership trends in the NVPTA, explore why membership amongst PTAs is low, identify factors influencing NVPTA membership, and collaborate with the NVPTA Board to improve membership. The final objective of this project was to reflect upon experiential education through service learning. Methods: To address aim one, membership data was retrieved from the NVPTA Membership Chair and was examined to explore trends amongst different populations of therapists. In order to examine PTA membership, a focus group was conducted at each of the three PTA schools located in Nevada consisting of pre-planned questions to determine PTA students’ opinions of the NVPTA. A survey was developed that included two subsets of questions based on membership status within the NVPTA and was sent out to practicing clinicians in Nevada in order to identify factors influencing NVPTA membership choices. Collaboration with the Board of the NVPTA to improve membership included assisting with the development of the Early Professional Student Interest Group (EPSIG) and organizing a social media campaign during National Physical Therapy month in October 2018. Lastly, written reflections on experiential learning were completed by each of the students involved in this service-learning project. Results: After examining membership data, it was found that membership of Physical Therapists in the NVPTA substantially exceeds membership of PTAs. Membership of Physical Therapists improved from 38.9% to 39.9% from 2017 to 2018, while membership of PTAs in the NVPTA remained at 7.9% without change. Qualitative data collected during PTA student focus groups revealed that students reported three common themes for non-membership including lack of time, cost, and a general lack of focus from the NVPTA on PTAs and PTA students. The membership survey revealed the main reason for non-membership was APTA national dues being too high while the main reason for active membership was having pride in the profession. In regards to the first EPSIG meeting, it was found that there was limited interest in this group as shown by lack of turn out. Discussion: Based on membership data from 2017 and 2018, it can be inferred that membership levels will continue to show no meaningful change if there are not strategies being implemented for improvement. The results from the PTA focus groups showed that PTA students may find increased value in membership with implementation of monthly student workshops, student centered monthly meetings, and current student members sharing their own personal value in membership. Based on the findings of the survey, it is concluded that improving awareness of benefits of membership may influence non-members to reconsider becoming a member. Following the first EPSIG meeting, it was concluded that the EPSIG should partner with the Student Special Interest Group in order to encourage membership in the transition post-graduation. Lastly, all three students demonstrated a common theme in their overall personal reflections of this service-learning project, which was an improved understanding and appreciation of the value their membership in an organization larger than themselves was.


Physical Therapy; Student Research; Service Learning; APTA Nevada; Nevada Physical Therapy Association; NVPTA; American Physical Therapy Association; APTA; UNLV; University of Nevada Las Vegas; Membership


Medicine and Health Sciences | Physical Therapy | Rehabilitation and Therapy

File Format


File Size

2.251 KB

Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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