To determine the awareness and perception of Physical Therapy as a career among the intermediate students of Karachi.


It is a cross-sectional study.


The settings of this study were two Private and two Government sector Intermediate colleges, offering Pre-medical and participants were students studying in these colleges.


Non-probability convenience sampling technique.


Results revealed that only 13.5% of students were well aware of physical therapy as a profession in government and private colleges whereas, 31% in government colleges and 26.5% in private colleges had little knowledge. While 28% government and 30.5% in private were totally unaware of it. 75.7% and 83.5% from government and private sector students responded that physical therapy will be most rewarded in Orthopedic/Musculoskeletal fields respectively.


The awareness of Physical Therapy as a career among intermediate students would help in creating more effective marketing strategies. Unfortunately, a small percentage of the students are aware of physiotherapy and the services provided by this profession which implies that there is an urgent need for marketing campaign.

Key Words

Awareness, Profession, Physical Therapy, Government, Private, Intermediate, Pre-medical.

Sadaf Shafqat


Ziauddin College of Physical Therapy

Ziauddin University

Sarah Omer


Beaconhouse School System

Marina Ayub

Clinical Physiotherapist

Asma Faheem

Clinical Statistician

Muhammad Shahid

Assistant Professor

Ziauddin College of Physical Therapy

Ziauddin University

Syeda Amool Sakeena Rizvi


Ziauddin College of Physical Therapy

Ziauddin University

[Shafqat S, Omer S, Ayub M, Faheem A, Shahid M, Rizvi SAS. Awareness of Physical Therapy as a Profession among Pre-medical Students of Private and Government Colleges Pak. j. rehabil. 2012;1(2):38-46]


A profession is a rewarded occupation, especially one that involves prolonged training and a formal qualification1,2 whereas, a professional is engaged in a specified activity as main paid occupation rather than as an amateur3. Health professionals play a central and critical role in improving access and quality health care for the population. They provide important services that promote health, prevent diseases and bring health care services to individuals, their families and their societies4. Physical therapy, as a health care profession, was formally recognized in the second decade of the 20th century5, after the World War I (1914-1918)6 whereas the profession was endorsed due to numerous emerging cases of poliomyelitis after World War II 7, 8.

World Confederation for Physical Therapy (WCPT) defines Physical Therapy as “A profession which is concerned with identifying and maximizing quality of life and movement potential within the spheres of promotion, prevention, intervention, habilitation and rehabilitation. This encompasses social, psychological, physical and emotional wellbeing9 “.

Similarly, Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA) illustrate Physical Therapists (PT) as health care professionals capable of carrying out a complete examination, assessing the findings, formulating a diagnosis, prognosis and treatment plan thus maintaining optimal functioning and physical wellness in the society10.

The profession of Physical Therapy started off as a diploma program progressing to Bachelor and now leading to Master and MPhil programs. It has grown such rapidly that the basic educational process required to become a PT is upgraded to the Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree. After DPT the need for further advancement in studies emerged realizing the need for equal credentials of old Bachelors in the market with the new graduates coming with the DPT degree. Hence, the Post Professional degree program was introduced11. Similar concerned issues were raised when the mode was to move from Bachelor to the professional Master degree12. The Post-Professional DPT degree permits PT to achieve degree uniformity with PT that holds the skilled DPT degree by filling in any gaps between their skilled baccalaureate academic degree education and current skilled DPT degree education13.

American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) represents more than 80,000 PT, PT assistants, students14 and in U.S. Physical Therapy is ranked fifth in best healthcare jobs and eight in the 100 most excellent jobs in 201315. According to Vision 2020, the new graduates taking the national licensure examination in the field after 2020 will be required to hold at least DPT degree16. PT practice independently of other health care providers and also within interdisciplinary rehabilitation programs17. Clinical specialization opportunities are also available, for PT, in the fields of, Neurology, Orthopedics, Geriatrics, Pediatrics, Women’s Health, Sports and Clinical Electrophysiology18.

A study conducted by Prati and Liu. in October 2006 showed that the students have a positive attitude towards physical therapy. College students also observed the DPT as educating more competent practitioners. However, DPT programs should put in efforts to advocate their programs not only on-campus but also off-campus. DPT programs and APTA should promote more seriously to the public, the changes undergoing in the field of PT19. Board of Intermediate Education Karachi (BIEK) was established in 197420 and certifies students who want to pursue career in physical therapy. Pre-med from BIEK is a requirement for bachelors in physical therapy in Karachi Pakistan21.

Despite Physical Therapy being such a rapidly growing and emerging field there is not much work done to check the awareness of Physical Therapy and thus this study is being conducted as having the knowledge of awareness would help in creating more effective marketing strategies as many of these students could become practitioners as well as patients in future. Also understanding the factors for which the students do not choose Physical Therapy as their first option for career choices, would help in learning the misconceptions regarding the profession that need to be corrected. The objectives of the study are to determine the awareness and perception of Physical Therapy, to compare the frequency of physical therapy as career preference among students of government and private sector colleges and to identify the factors for which students do not choose Physical Therapy as first option for career choices.


Study Design

This is a cross-sectional survey conducted amongst Intermediate (Pre-medical) students of Karachi.


The settings of this research were two Private (Pvt) and two Government (Govt) sector Intermediate colleges, offering Pre-medical, in Karachi.


The length of study over which it was conducted is one year.

Sampling Technique

Using Rao soft calculator 22 a sample size of 375 was calculated. The population of intermediate students, in Karachi, in 2011 was 15,52723 and margin error of 5% was kept with a response distribution of 50%. To avoid wasting of data sample size was taken as 400. Non-probability convenience sampling technique was used.

Sample Selection

Intermediate (Pre-medial) students, both male and female, from Private and Government colleges of Karachi city, who were present on the day of data collection, were included in this study.

This study excluded students other than Intermediate (Pre-medical) and from colleges out of Karachi. Non responsive students who were not signing the consent form were excluded as well and those students who were mentally disabled were barred from this choice of survey.


A self-administered questionnaire was distributed amongst 400 college students present on the day of data collection. Data was analyzed using SPSS version 20 and Excel 2007.


Based upon the questionnaire and the optional responses provided accordingly we have calculated the results; however, the nature of this research is as such that free opinionated responses had to be equally appreciated. With reference to chart 1 above, the result shows, 13.5% were well aware of physical therapy as a profession in government and private colleges whereas 31% in government colleges and 26.5% in private colleges had little knowledge about it. 10.5% in government and 19.5% in private only knew about physical therapy as a profession related to medicine. 17% in government and 10% in private only heard the name but did not know what it was about. 28% government and 30.5% in private were totally unaware about it.

Sources of Information

6.3% from government and 5% from private said that someone in their family is in the same profession. 22.9% from government and 30.2% from private said that they had heard from internet. 46.5% from government and 51.8% from private said that they heard from friends or family. 24.3% from government and 12.9% from private said that they heard from magazines or different sources of advertisements.

Choice of Career

A comforting 75.7% percent from the government and 41.7% from private sector preferred to choose physical therapy as a career. In government colleges 19.4% said no, 4.9% said that they do not know whereas in private 36.7% said no and 21.6% said that they do not know.

Reasons for Career Preference

A fair 33.1% from the private sector said that physical therapy is a thriving profession and a dynamic field, whereas both the private and the government college students were motivated because it offered a generous monetary value. A minor 8.6% from the private sector considered it as a relaxing and emotionally less challenging work. 33.3% from the government and 3.6% from private considered it as a field which presents good job opportunities.

Negative Reasons for Choice of Career

9.7% and 17.3% from government and private college students thought of physical therapy as a plain or boring profession. 4.9% and 20.1% from government and private college students did not consider them as real doctors. 4.9% from government colleges and 12.9% from private thought that physical therapy does not offer psychologically. 38.2% from government and 21.6% from private colleges said that the profession was physically demanding. 28.5% from government colleges and 8.6% from private colleges found physical therapy challenging and 57.6% and 45.3% from government and private colleges   said that physical therapy had Narrow scope in Pakistan.

Visit to a Physical Therapist

In government colleges 47.9% said they have been to a PT, whereas 52.1% said no they have not. Similarly In private 48.2% said yes, 51.8% said no.

Feedback Concerning Their Experience with a Physical


In government colleges 38.2% said it was good, 14.6% said it was average. Only a small 5% reported their experience as being poor. In private colleges 39.6% said it was good, 4.3% said it was bad, 8.6% said it was average and 47.5% said that they do not know.

Predilection Regarding Visit to a Physical Therapist

86.1% in government and 87.1% in private said yes, they would like to go to a PT, only 9% in government and 12.9% in private said they would not. 4.9% from government colleges answered maybe.

Effectiveness of Physical Therapy as a Treatment

A reasonable 85.4% and 65.5% from government and from private were positive about physical therapy as an effective treatment. A small 8.6% in government and 4.3% in private said it as waste of money. 9.7% in government and 21.6% in private did not know whereas 4.3% in private colleges found physical therapy not effective.

Most Rewarding Fields in Physical Therapy

75.7% and 83.5% from government and private said physical therapy will be most rewarded in orthopedic/musculoskeletal. 13.9% and 32.4% from government and private said Cardiovascular and Pulmonary. 23.6% and 33.1% from government and private answered neurological. 29.2% and 41.7% from government and private said Women’s Health. 4.9% from government and 3.6% from private colleges said geriatrics whereas 4.9% from government and 7.9% from private colleges said pediatrics.

Awareness About Interventions Used by A Physical Therapist

43.8% of government students and 70.8% of private students said exercise whereas 69.4% of government students and 50% of private students answered massage as the most commonly used intervention. 16% and 20.8% from government and private colleges believed Drugs. 23.6% and 37.5% from government and private said pressure points. 11.1% of government students and 20.8% of private said application of heat. 10.4% and 29.2% from government and private said cryotherapy (cold application). 18.8% of government students and 43.8% of private college students said hydrotherapy. 17.4% and 22.9% from government and private colleges said electrotherapy respectively.

Requirement Of Physical Therapy

In Different Setups 56.9% and 66.2% from government and private college students answered hospitals as the setup in which PTs are needed. 25.7% and 50.4% said sports. 5.6% and 16.5% government and private college students thought that physical therapy is required in schools and college setups respectively. 29.2% and 49.6% government and private said fitness and physical training centers and a mere 0.7% from government colleges and 6.5% from private said special requirements for the wounded of the war and trauma, domestic violence etc.

Need of a Physical Therapist

in Different Hospital Units 87.5% and 89.2% from government and private said physical therapy is best needed in OPD (Outpatient Department). 28.5% and 38.1% from government and private said ICU (Intensive Care Unit). And 1.4%% from government and 10.1% of private college students said Emergency Room (ER).

Gender Preference

56.3% from government college students and 43.2% from private colleges were in favor of both. 34% from government and 43.9% from private sector responses were in favor of male gender whereas 9.7% in government and 12.9% in private colleges said females.

Assessment for Motivation to Visit a Physical Therapist

28.5% from government and 47.5% from private responded that they would opt to go to a PT their self. 71.5% in government and 43.9% in private said that they would visit upon been referred by a consulting physician. A meager 4.2% in government and 8.6% in private colleges said they would not go under either situation.

Awareness about DPT

Majority of students were unaware about DPT. 31.9% in government and 52.5% in private said yes, they are, 68.1 in government and 47.5% in private said no they do not know about DPT.

Promotion of Physical Therapy as a Career by Teachers

Private colleges are promoting physical therapy as a healthy profession greatly about 50.4%, while an 8.3% from government said yes. 91.7% in government and 49. 6% in private said no to physical therapy being encouraged by teachers as a profession.

Support by Parents as a Career Choice

44.4% in government and 65.5% in private said yes, their parents supported the profession as career choice, while 55.6% in government and 34.5% in private said their parents were against it.


This survey was conducted to evaluate the knowledge and perception of the students, from various private and government colleges, regarding the profession of physical therapy and its practical efficacy.

Sources of Information

This study shows that the most common source of information regarding the profession were friends/ family and internet amongst TV, magazines, advertisements or somebody they know who is personally in this profession. Similarly, according to another interactive survey by Zogby, internet is by far the most popular source of information 24.

Promotion of Physical Therapy as a Career by Teachers

Role of a teacher is very important when it comes to the common knowledge and proper guidance about anything. Teachers must council and guide the students about the benefits and advances of physical therapy. Our results shows that private colleges are promoting physical therapy as a healthy profession greatly, this practice should also be carried by the teachers in government sector colleges.

Support by Parents as a Career Choice

Physical therapy is not only under estimated as a profession by students but also by their parents and relatives. PT plays a vital role in rehabilitation of a patient and helps him to revert to the normal aspects of his daily life. Colleges should hold career guidance councils and sessions with parents and children both in order to educate the importance of physical therapy.


Accepted throughout the world, physical therapy, as a cure is not justified when it comes to the common knowledge in our country Pakistan of over 185 million populace27. Only 13.5% of our country here is aware of physiotherapy, which limits it because knowledge brings awareness and belief in the profession as a cure and improvement. Physical therapy is a growing profession; however, it appears that public is unaware of the full range of physiotherapy services, which suggests that there is a need for appropriately focused marketing campaigns.


  1. Oxford Dictionaries. [online]. 2012. Profession. [cited 2012 Nov 14]. Available from: URL: http:// oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/professio n?q=profession
  2. Freidson E. Profession of Medicine. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press; 1988. Introduction. [cited 2010 Apr 22]. Available from: URL:http://books.google.com.pk/books?id=G7vhO k_bYlsC&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_sum mary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false
  3. Oxford Dictionaries. [online]. 2012. Professional. [cited 2012 Nov 14]. Available from: URL: http://oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/pr ofessional?q=professional
  4. World Health Organization. Health workforce: Health professions network. http://www.who.int/en/ [online] 2012 [cited 2012 Jul 14]. Available from: URL: http://www.who.int/hrh/professionals/en/
  5. [Todays Physical Therapist: A Comprehensive Review of a 21st-Century Health Care Profession. American Physical Therapy Association [online] 2011 Jan [cited 2011 Nov 12]. Available from: URL: http://www.apta.org/uploadedFiles/APTAorg/Prac tice_and_Patient_Care/PR_and_Marketing/Market_to_Professionals/TodaysPhysicalTherapist.pdf
  6. Nicholson SK. The Physical Therapist’s Business Practice and Legal Guide. [online]. Tampa: Jones and Bartlett Publishers; 2008. Chapter 1, The Evolution of Physical Therapy. [cited 2010 Apr 22]. Available from: URL: http://books.google.com.pk/ books?id=NG1HzD4ZuKAC&pg=PA15&lpg=PA15&dq=The+Physical+Therapist%27s+Business+Practice+and+Legal+Guide,The+Evolution+of+Physical+ Therapy&source=bl&ots=a3boHPPgzl&sig=fAXcKf_VhQekHaZ-8nyk_SYKgkI&hl=en&sa=X&ei=tVX_UfXFG8O1PLGkgcAC&ved=0CD0Q6AEwAw#v=onepage&q=The%20Physical%20Therapist%27s%20Business%20Practice%20and%20Legal%20Guide%2CThe%20Evolution%20of%20Physical%20Therapy&f=false
  7. Immunization surveillance, assessment and monitoring. [online] 2012 [updated 2011 Jul 25; cited 2012 Jul 14]. Available from: URL: http://www.who.int/ immunization_monitoring/diseases/poliomyelitis/en
  8. The History of Polio. A Hypertext timeline [online] 2006 [updated 2006 Jan 21; cited 2012 Jul 14]. Available from:URL:http://www.eds-resources.com/ poliotimeline.htm
  9. Policy Statement: Description of Physical Therapy. [online] 2011 [updated 2011 Jul 15; cited 2011 Nov 11].Available from: URL:http://www.wcpt.org/ policy/ps-descriptionPT
  10. What is Physiotherapy. [online] [cited 2011 Nov 13]. Available from: URL: http://www.physiotherapy. asn.au/APAWCM/Physio_and_You/APAWCM/Physi o_and_You/physio.aspx
  11. Plack MM, Wong CK. The Evolution of the Doctorate of Physical Therapy Moving beyond the Controversy 2002;16(1):2-8.
  12. Education at the Crossroads: Which Paths for the DPT [online]. 1998 [cited 2012 Jul 14];78(5):454 Available from: URL:http://www.physther.org/ content/78/5/454.full.pdf+html
  13. FAQ: Post professional DPT (Transition) [online] [updated 2012 Feb 7; cited 2012 Apr 13]. Available from: URL: http://www.apta.org/Postprofessional Degree/TransitionDPTFAQs/
  14. Physical Therapists & The Performance of Dry Needling [online] 2012 Jan [cited 2012 Apr 14]. Available from: URL: http://www.apta.org /StateIssues/DryNeedling/ResourcePaper/
  15. The 100 Best Jobs. U.S. News [online]. [cited 2012 Dec 20]; Available from: URL:http://money.usnews. com/careers/best-jobs/physical-therapist
  16. APTA Vision Sentence for Physical Therapy 2020 and APTA Vision Statement for Physical Therapy 2020 [online] [updated 2011 Mar 2; cited 2011 Nov 20]. Available from: URL: http://www.apta.org/ uploadedFiles/APTAorg/About_Us/Policies/HOD/G oals/Vision.pdf
  17. Where is physical therapy practiced [online] [updated 2011 Jul 15; cited 2011 Nov 11]. Available from: URL: http://www.wcpt.org/ policy/ps-descriptionPT
  18. American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties [online] [updated 2011 Oct 11; cited 2011 Dec 21]. Available from: URL: http://www.abpts.org/ About/History/
  19. Prati V, Liu H. Perceptions of College Students Regarding the Current Physical Therapy Profession and Professional Education Process. 2006;4(4):1-6.
  20. About us [online] [cited 2011 Dec 21]. Available from: URL: http://www.biek.edu.pk/aboutus.as
  21. Doctor of Physical Therapy [online] 2011 [cited 2012 Jan 15]. Available from: URL:http://zu.edu.pk/DPT.html
  22. Raosoft sample size calculator [online] 2004 [cited 2011 Dec 28]. Available from: URL:http:// raosoft.com/samplesize.html
  23. Tougher exams mean less pass. The Express Tribune [online]. 2011 Sep 7 [cited 2011 Nov 11]; Available from: URL: http://tribune.com
  24. Internet most popular information source. Reuters [online]. 2009 Jun 17 [cited 2012 Jan 11]; Available from: URL: http://www.reuters.com/article/ 2 0 0 9 / 0 6 / 1 7 / u s – m e d i a – i n t e r n e t – l i f e – idUSTRE55G4XA20090617
  25. Kandasamy K. Perceptions of physiotherapy profession by physiotherapists in Tamilnadu, India. [PhD thesis] 2012 [cited 2012 May 11]. Available from: URL: http://www.phmed.umu.se/ digitalAssets/104/104561_karthikeyankandasamy. Pdf
  26. Sheppard L. Public perception of physiotherapy implications for marketing. 1992;40(4):265-71.
  27. Khan W. Pakistan’s looming crises: Increasing population, dwindling resources. DAWN.com [online]. 2012 [cited 2012 Sept 9]; Available from: URL:http://beta.dawn.com/news/752436/ pakistans-looming-crises-increasing-populationdwindling- resources.