Interprofessional Team Members’ Knowledge and Perceptions of Physical Therapist Education and Practice

Emma G. Hintz, Alyson P. Tisthammer, Sara E. North

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction. High-quality patient care requires that providers understand and optimize each health care team member’s roles and responsibilities. Review of Literature. The purpose of this paper was to examine the contemporary knowledge and perceptions of physical therapist (PT) practice and education held by advanced practice interprofessional (IP) team members, including physicians, physician assistants (PAs), and advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs). Subjects. Physicians, PAs, and APRNs licensed in the state of Minnesota. Methods. Eligible individuals were invited to participate in an online survey assessing understanding of PT practice and education. Descriptive and nonparametric statistical analyses were used to evaluate respondent demographics, practice characteristics, and perceptions and knowledge of PT education and practice. Results. Survey responses were analyzed from 442 respondents including 210 APRNs, 182 physicians, 48 PAs, and 2 clinicians of unknown profession. Results demonstrated that most referring providers did not learn about physical therapy during their academic or posttraining education. Those who interacted with PTs more frequently perceived greater benefit for their patients, tended to refer to PTs more often, and demonstrated greater knowledge of PT practice. Poorly understood areas of PT practice and education included PT practice settings, specialties, salary, level of education, and the ability to see patients through direct access. Discussion and Conclusion. Multiple areas of poor provider knowledge regarding PT education and practice were identified; many unchanged from the literature in the 1980s. Three main areas of growth were identified from which actionable recommendations are made: increase IP interactions with PTs, address areas of poor understanding of PT education and scope, and maximize shifting perceptions of PTs through education and advocacy. This paper illustrates that PT education and practice are not well understood by referring providers, posing a threat to IP collaboration. A lack of collaboration may hinder patient and system outcomes because of suboptimal provider utilization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)72-79
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Physical Therapy Education
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2023 Academy of Physical Therapy Education, APTA.


  • Advanced practice registered nurse
  • Interprofessional
  • Knowledge
  • Perceptions
  • Physician assistant
  • PT


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