Lapses in professional behavior identified by students of physical therapy

Amanda Sharp, Ansel Schmidt, Catherine Casto, Ann van de Winckel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


PURPOSE: Professional behaviors are interpersonal skills central and necessary to perform the work of a given profession. Although covered in professional training programs, lapses in professional behaviors remain. We assessed how students of physical therapy ranked the importance of professional behaviors and shared examples of lapses in professional behaviors seen in student peers. SUBJECTS: Out of 250 accredited physical therapist programs in the U.S., 135 students (age 26.2 ± 4.65 yrs) participated in our survey. METHODS: We analyzed the student ranking of professional behaviors as compared to the accepted standard of behaviors. Themes were identified from descriptions of lapses in professional behavior. RESULTS: The ranking of professional behaviors was not consistent with the accepted standard ranking. Analysis of student observations resulted in the identification of six themes: external professionalism, respectfulness, communication, relationship to learning, affective professionalism, and clinical decision-making. DISCUSSION: Students' rankings of professional behaviors did not correspond to the rankings in the reference standard of clinicians. We have identified a perception gap between professional behaviors previously ranked by clinicians as compared to how students ranked those same behaviors. Educators may benefit from consideration of student perceptions of professional behaviors to most effectively facilitate development of professionalism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E53-E57
JournalJournal of allied health
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Assoc. of Schools Advancing Health Professions, Wash., DC.


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