Physical Therapist Leaders: How gritty are they?

ISSN: 2449-1802  Vol. 3 (6), pp. 138-151, November, 2015

Full Length Research Paper

Physical Therapist Leaders: How gritty are they?

RUNNING HEAD: Gritty PT Leaders

Susan G. Klappa*1, Lois E. Fulton2, Jessica Gregg SPT3, Ashley Tollefson4, Erin Van Praag5, Scott P Klappa6

1Professor, Chair Davenport University, Doctor of Physical Therapy Program, 6191 Kraft Ave. SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49512

21813 Arthur Circle, Ames, IA 50010

318 River Ridge Road, Cedar Falls, IA 50613

4S4480 Engh Lane, Viroqua, WI 54665

56843 White Gate Ct Marion, IA 52302

6PhD candidate, Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science, Department of Psychology, 3333 Green Bay Road, North Chicago, IL 60064

*Corresponding author. E-mail:, Phone: 616-871-6158

Accepted 26 November, 2015

This phenomenological study utilized the Grit Scale survey and interviews to investigate levels of grit among physical therapist (PT) leaders. Grit has been defined by Duckworth as perseverance and long term focus on goals. Phase I (n = 13) utilized the Grit Scale survey and Phase II (n = 5) utilized phenomenological interviews. The Grit Scale survey data were analyzed with SPSS 20. Qualitative data were analyzed with the whole-parts-whole method of Giorgi, Dahlberg, Drew, and Nyström. Participants had high grit scores (3.9 + .47) and demonstrated leadership at the local district, state, and national levels. Group mean for grit among PTs was higher than values found by Duckworth for Ivy League undergraduates, West Point cadets, adults aged 25 years, and National Spelling Bee participants. Themes emerging from the phenomenological interviews included: 1) Bold openness with a growth mindset; 2) Self-reflection; 3) Learning from challenges; and 4) Importance of mentors. Physical therapist leaders embodied high qualities of grit and were able to articulate how they focused on their long term goals despite challenges. Better understanding grit among students applying to PT school may help educators predict future leaders and add diversity of talent to the physical therapy profession.

Key words: Grit, physical therapist, leadership