Date of Award

2-3-2015

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ded)

Department

Professional Studies in Education

First Advisor

George R. Bieger, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Robert Millward, D.Ed.

Third Advisor

Cathy Kaufmann, Ph.D.

Abstract

Physical therapists are licensed in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. The State Board of Physical Therapy within each state regulates licensure and the majority of the states mandate continuing professional education (CPE) as a requirement for renewal. In Pennsylvania, the practice act was amended on July 4, 2008 requiring physical therapists to complete 30 hours of CPE during each biennial renewal period. This new act became effective December 22, 2012 with the first cycle beginning on January 1, 2013. Many physical therapists express challenges in acquiring CPE indicating barriers such as stress with caseload size, travel to courses from rural locations, time restraints and commitments to family and work. Distance education (DE), defined as the application of communications and electronic devices that enable students to receive instruction from a distant location, may offer flexibility in CPE for physical therapists. This study investigated the use and adoption of DE to meet continuing education requirements by physical therapists using an adapted survey. Email invitations with an anonymous link to the survey were sent to 2047 Pennsylvania physical therapists and a total of 361 completed online surveys were attained. 57% of the subjects reported incorporating some form of DE into their 30 required CPE hours over the last 24 months. On average, 12.25 of the 30 required CPE hours were completed through DE. The most frequent type of DE used by the subjects was Internet/World Wide Web, followed closely by print. When evaluating the innovation-decision process, subjects considered course content, quality and applicability of the information first, and time away from work or home last. The most commonly used provider of DE is a national professional organization. Those subjects that report using distance education confirm that their distance education experience was positive and believe that their CE experience will be positive in the future. Using Rogers's method to determine rate of adoption, it appears that Pennsylvania physical therapists are already adopting DE. The results of this study indicate that, DE has good relative advantage, good compatibility, good observability and no evidence of complexity.

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