Background Foreign-educated physical therapists are often viewed as one possible solution to the current shortage of physical therapists, yet there is very little research regarding these individuals.
Objective The purpose of this study was to describe those physical therapists who are licensed in the United States but who were educated in another country. This description includes their country of education, their employment patterns, and the reasons they decided to emigrate and work as a physical therapist in the United States.
Design A cross-sectional survey was conducted.
Methods An electronic survey was sent to all physical therapists currently licensed in the United States who had been educated in another country. Those who had been licensed within the last 5 years are reported.
Results The results of the survey indicated that the typical foreign-educated physical therapist is female, aged 32.2 years, and was born and trained in either the Philippines or India. A majority of foreign-educated physical therapists obtained their first license in New York, Michigan, Illinois, Texas, or Florida. The most common reasons cited as to why a particular jurisdiction was chosen for initial employment were “recruiter recommendation,” “family, spouse, partner, or friends,” “ease of the licensure process,” and “ability to secure a visa sponsor.” A majority of foreign-educated physical therapists in this study initially worked in a skilled nursing facility, a long-term care or extended care facility, or a home health setting.
Limitations Only those foreign-educated physical therapists licensed within the last 5 years are reported.
Conclusions This study is the first to report on foreign-educated physical therapists in the United States. The findings of this study will provide important and useful information to others dealing with physical therapy professional and workforce issues.
All authors provided concept/idea/research design. Dr Cornwall and Dr Keehn provided writing and data analysis. Dr Cornwall provided data collection and fund procurement. Dr Cornwall and Mr Lane provided project management. Mr Lane provided participants. Dr Keehn and Mr Lane provided consultation (including review of manuscript before submission).
The Northern Arizona University Human Subjects Committee reviewed and approved the study protocol.
The work described in this report was supported by the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy.
- Received December 11, 2014.
- Accepted August 9, 2015.
- © 2016 American Physical Therapy Association