Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation




Educational Leadership Studies

First Advisor

Dr. Tricia Browne-Ferrigno


Physical therapy as an emerging profession is committed to establishing its identity and solidifying its role as a leader in health care. With expertise in human movement, wellness, and disease prevention, physical therapists possess invaluable knowledge and skill to influence public health and enhance patient recovery without increasing cost. Physical therapists have the opportunity to transform the delivery of public health services to meet current and future needs. A major challenge, however, is a dearth of leadership development in preparation programs. Because most physical therapists have not received formal education or explicit training in leadership, a problem of practice exists.

This dissertation is a report of a mixed-methods action-research study that explores leadership development among aspiring and practicing physical therapists. It describes a series of professional development (PD) activities designed to foster transformational leadership and a community of practice among a group of clinicians in a privately-owned clinic in north Florida. Qualitative and quantitative data collection and analysis indicate positive changes were made in understanding transformational leadership, engagement in community service, relationship building among coworkers, communication, and community of practice after participation in the PD activities. Analysis of results also identified the need for continued relationship development, conflict resolution, and building strong teams.

Because a paucity of literature related to leadership development in physical therapy exists, findings from this study may prove useful to the field. The results describe a feasible method of leadership development and sustainability of a community of practice to inspire transformative practitioners who lead in the clinic and the community.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)