Educational Plan Outcomes for Increasing the Physical Therapy Workforce in Rural Areas

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Outcomes are presented related to an innovative educational action plan designed to address the severe rural workforce shortage experienced within the state of Nebraska. The plan, implemented in 1992, consisted of the development of two special admission tracks and revision of didactic and clinical components of the curriculum. The first three graduating classes (1995-1997) affected by the educational plan entered rural practice at rates greater than those of previous classes, with 18 of 21 students (85.7%) admitted through the special tracks accepting positions within rural communities. Graduates identified early and regular exposure to rural practice issues and clinical education experiences as a key influence in their employment decisions. Early outcome data suggest that the rural educational plan favorably influenced physical therapist program graduates toward selecting rural practice employment.

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