Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Teaching and Learning

First Committee Member

Christine Clark

Second Committee Member

Norma Marrun

Third Committee Member

Chyllis Scott

Fourth Committee Member

Karl Kingsley

Number of Pages



The purpose of this study was to examine the experiences of LGBTQ Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) students at a large public university in the south-western United States, as it relates to the culture and climate of the program and campus. The LGBTQ community faces its own unique health disparities. Research in medicine suggests improving the diversity of the healthcare profession is a vital component in improving access to care, and this requires the creation of inclusive and supportive educational environments for LGBTQ identifying healthcare students. However, minimal research exists examining the experiences of LGBTQ physical therapy students.

The study used a critical ethnographic approach using one-on-one interviews with participants. The theoretical framework was centered on Critical Race Theory and Queer Crit, with influences from the heteronormative perspective. The use of one-on-one interviews allowed for the voice of each participant to be heard by including their experiential knowledge on the topic of this study. Study findings revealed five major themes: (a) navigating the heteronormative clinic and campus, (b) experiences of microaggressions and discrimination, (c) barriers to being out, (d) the role of religion, and (e) mechanisms of support for LGBTQ DPT students. The majority of participants reported a supportive environment on campus, but reported on the challenge of navigating heteronormative assumptions in clinical settings. Individuals with multiple intersecting identities reported more frequent incidences of microaggressions and discrimination related to race, ethnicity, body size, language use, and presumed foreignness. Findings support the need for continued use of intersectional research methodologies in order to support LGBTQ DPT students reach and navigate professional practice.


Critical race theory; Doctor of Physical Therapy; DPT; Heteronormative; LGBTQ


Education | Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Studies | Physical Therapy | Physiotherapy | Psychiatric and Mental Health

File Format


File Size

1441 KB

Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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