Effect of a First Clinical Experience on Physical Therapy Students' Perception of the Importance of Obtaining and Assessing Blood Pressure

J Allied Health. 2023 Summer;52(2):127-135.


Aims: The purpose of this mixed-methods study was to investigate the effect of a first clinical experience on student perception of the importance of obtaining and assessing blood pressure (BP).

Methods: Fifty-eight students preparing for their first clinical experiences were recruited from three New York State physical therapy programs. Student experience obtaining BP during a first clinical experience was investigated using online anonymous surveys and focus groups. The pre survey was administered at 2 weeks before the first clinical experience, and a post survey and focus group were complete 3 weeks after.

Results: Statistically significant decline was found in student perceptions of the importance and likelihood of obtaining and assessing BP following a first clinical experience. Qualitatively, three themes emerged (1) Being a student and agency including reluctance to independently initiate practices; (2) influence of clinic norms such as availability of equipment and consistency of BP monitoring; and (3) personal confidence obtaining, assessing, and interpreting BP influenced by exposure to obtaining, assessing, and interpreting BP.

Conclusion: Clinical education appears to have significant influence on students' perception of the importance of BP assessment. If students encounter and adopt practices deviating from didactic instruction reflecting professional standards, it can expose patients and practitioners to unnecessary risk. Faculty can use these results to better appreciate students' first clinical experiences and foster agency by discussing practice norms.

MeSH terms

  • Blood Pressure
  • Focus Groups
  • Humans
  • Perception*
  • Students*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires