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Strategies for Promoting Diversity in Physical Therapy

How Do We Promote Diversity in Physical Therapy


The field of physical therapy has made significant strides in recent years, recognizing the importance of diversity and inclusion. However, promoting diversity is not just a moral imperative; it's essential for the advancement of healthcare. In this scholarly exploration, we will delve into strategies for promoting diversity in physical therapy, considering the historical and political context surrounding Black identity, colonialism, translation, and power dynamics.

Historical and Political Context

To understand the need for diversity in physical therapy, we must acknowledge the historical and political factors that have shaped healthcare disparities. The legacy of colonialism, with its deep-rooted inequalities, has played a pivotal role in healthcare access and outcomes.

Strategy 1: Inclusive Admissions Policies

One of the primary strategies for promoting diversity in physical therapy is to implement inclusive admissions policies. This involves reevaluating admission criteria and actively seeking out applicants from underrepresented backgrounds, including Black individuals.

Strategy 2: Outreach and Recruitment

Physical therapy programs should engage in proactive outreach and recruitment efforts to attract a more diverse pool of applicants. This includes collaborating with historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and community organizations to identify potential candidates.

Strategy 3: Culturally Competent Curriculum

Promoting diversity extends to the curriculum itself. Physical therapy programs should incorporate cultural competence training to ensure that future practitioners are prepared to provide care that respects diverse identities and experiences.

Strategy 4: Mentorship and Support

Mentorship programs that connect students with mentors from similar backgrounds can be instrumental in retaining and supporting diverse students. These relationships foster a sense of belonging and provide guidance in navigating the challenges of the field.

Strategy 5: Addressing Implicit Bias

Implicit bias training should be mandatory for faculty, staff, and students. It helps individuals recognize and mitigate their own biases, creating a more inclusive and equitable learning and practice environment.

Strategy 6: Diverse Faculty Representation

Having a diverse faculty is crucial for creating a welcoming and inclusive educational environment. Efforts should be made to recruit and retain faculty members from underrepresented backgrounds.

Strategy 7: Community Engagement

Physical therapy programs can engage with the communities they serve by offering outreach clinics, health fairs, and wellness programs. These activities not only benefit the community but also provide students with invaluable experiences in diverse settings.


Promoting diversity in physical therapy is a multifaceted endeavor that requires a comprehensive approach. By understanding the historical and political context of healthcare disparities and implementing strategies such as inclusive admissions policies, outreach and recruitment efforts, culturally competent curricula, mentorship and support, addressing implicit bias, diverse faculty representation, and community engagement, we can create a more inclusive and equitable field of physical therapy. These strategies not only benefit Black individuals but also contribute to a healthcare system that values and respects diverse identities, ultimately enhancing the quality of care for all patients.

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