Foreign-trained physical therapists (FTPTs) play a role in helping to meet the demand of rehabilitation services in the United States of America (USA). Not everyone is successful in becoming licensed to practice in the USA. One’s personal identity as well as health and wellness are closely linked to professional identity. The dilemma is how to balance personal autonomy, right to economic prosperity, right to personal professional development, and expectations of the public for safety obtaining adequate health care services. Methodology: A qualitative approach to examine issues faced by FTPTs who were seeking licensure to practice physical therapy in the USA. Descriptive phenomenological methods were used to analyze interviews of FTPTs (n=12). Motivations, issues, and barriers to this phenomenon were explored. Grounded Theory allowed us to examine the relationships among the themes that have emerged to create a model to explain the phenomenon. Results: Language proficiency, educational levels, and clinical experience were barriers for some participants. Other barriers such as a clinician’s accent or physical appearance may also demonstrate more subtle forms of discrimination against these clinicians. Resilience and hardiness were key components to redefining the professional identity of these FTPTs. Resilience and hardiness were key factors that contributed to the reconciliation of participants’ professional identity, whether or not the FTPTs were successful in gaining licensure. Conclusions & Implications: Results from this study help inform communities and organizations on how to best recruit, retain, and support physical therapy professionals to meet the increasing diversity in the patient populations we serve, and how to best meet today’s growing demand for a culturally appropriate and diverse workforce.
|Keywords:||Phenomenology, Physical Therapist, Professional Identity|
Associate Professor, University of Saint Mary, Leavenworth, Kansas, USA
Graduate Student, Clinical Psychology, Rosalind Franklin University, Chicago, Illinois, USA