Program-Level Factors Influencing Positive Graduate Outcomes of Physical Therapy Residency Programs

Gregory W. Hartley, Kathryn E. Roach, Kendra L. Harrington, Stephanie McNally

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Background: Physical therapist clinical residency programs vary widely in administrative structure, instructional characteristics, and program design. The impact of program-level factors on resident outcomes such as graduation and board certification is unknown. Objective: The objective of this study was to examine the influence of program-level factors on participant outcomes of physical therapist residency programs. Design: This was a retrospective cohort study using data from accredited programs from 2010 to 2013. Methods: Data were collected on program characteristics such as administrative structure, size, salary, tuition, full- or part-time options, didactic format, and clinical-site structure. The odds ratios were calculated to examine the impact of program characteristics on graduation, board certification, and passing the exam. A logistic regression analysis to determine the combined contribution of these characteristics on the 3 outcomes was performed. Results: Data from 183 residency programs and 1589 residents were analyzed. Participants attending programs that were single site or multifacility, provided live didactic instruction, did not charge tuition, and paid residents ≥ 70% full-time equivalent salary were 9.8 times more likely to graduate, 5.1 times more likely to become board certified, and 3.2 times more likely to pass the specialty board examination. Limitations: This study did not examine the impact of program location, resident attributes, or resident exposure to patient diagnostic volume and variety. Conclusions: This study has identified some program-level factors that appear to influence the odds of graduating, becoming board-certified, and passing the specialty board examination. This information could inform existing and developing residency programs, as well as applicants, on program-level factors that might influence participant outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)173-182
Number of pages10
JournalPhysical therapy
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2019


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation

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