What Traits Are Reflective of Positive Professional Performance in Physical Therapy Program Graduates? A Delphi Study

J Allied Health. 2018 Summer;47(2):96-102.


Background: Physical therapist program level successes have been associated with cognitive and noncognitive predictors. To our knowledge, no studies in physical therapy have explored predictive criteria for positive professional performance (PPP) in one's career beyond an educational program. The two-fold purpose of this study was to analyze what traits were key indicators of PPP beyond one's academic preparation, with secondary goal to determine whether traits related to PPP could be mediated by academic preparation.

Methods: A three-round Delphi survey targeted expert academicians with a specialization in programmatic performance and student success.

Results: Twenty-one Delphi respondents completed all survey rounds; identifying and determining consensus on traits associated with PPP. Respondents determined whether the traits could be influenced by programmatic training. The majority of traits identified with PPP were noncognitive and over half were considered modifiable through academic training. Traits such as critical thinking, promoting and engaging in an active learning process, ethical practice, good communication skills, conveying professionalism, and responsibility for one's own actions scored the highest in the survey.

Discussion: Findings may serve to benefit curricular designs of academic health professional programs to improve both programmatic and post-academic success.

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Competence*
  • Communication
  • Delphi Technique
  • Education, Graduate / organization & administration*
  • Education, Graduate / standards
  • Faculty / psychology*
  • Female
  • Group Processes
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Physical Therapy Modalities / education*
  • Professionalism
  • Thinking