Doctor of Physical Therapy Students’ Experience with Microaggressions in the Clinic: A Call to Action

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As Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) students fulfill off-campus clinical experience requirements at healthcare institutions, they are mentored by clinical instructors who are employees of said healthcare institutions. Clinical instructors, patients, or other staff members there may commit microaggressions against physical therapy students with varying subject matters, intentions, and effects on the students. Microaggressions are brief verbal humiliations which may or may not be intentional, but nonetheless convey derogatory slights or insults towards a target group. This article explores DPT students’ real-life experiences with microaggressions within the clinical education realm and the challenges a Director of Clinical Education faced in efforts to advocate for students. It also delves into the current literature available on the topic, while identifying gaps in research. It is imperative that Doctor of Physical Therapy academic institutions and researchers gather more information on the experiences of DPT students’ experiences with microaggressions and establish corresponding policies so that the prevalence of DPT students’ experiences with microaggressions is reduced and the negative effects mitigated.


This article was originally published in Pacific Journal of Health, volume 6, issue 1, in 2023.

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