Stephanie Williams, DPT, Mercia Bakouetila, DPT, Andrea Pantoja, DPT, and Amy Marie Lucero, DPT are four class of 2020 graduates and physical therapists from Texas State University to discuss their qualitative study on black students in PT education.

Stephanie begins the chat by giving us the statistics of black physical therapists and students in our profession compared to the population.

Amy paints a picture of the difficulties black PT students face enrolling into school and the lack of mentorship towards these groups of students. Mercia mentions from the study there was a wide spectrum of both micro and macroaggressions from stereotypes, prejudice, and even racism.

Andrea defines social isolation and assumed universality for this population which includes under representation, lack of support from faculty, feelings of loneliness within PT education and similarities among this population.

Mercia illustrates what code-switching means through example stories and that black students need to “code switch” even in a physical therapy program.  

This group found that black students in PT programs did seek organizations that included diversity to feel comfortable and have a sense of community but also had allyship from their peers and faculty to help establish a more diverse PT experience.


49:16 “If you don’t know anyone that looks like you in this position, you might not even find out that physical therapy is a thing.” – MERCIA

46:12 “It doesn’t matter what I’ve done. It does matter that I have a 4.0 in undergrad. For some people, all they’re going to see is the color of my skin.” – MERCIA

41:57 “Man I wish one of my white friends would have spoken up.” – STEPHANIE

38:35 “I have to put a bigger effort in getting to know people compared to them trying to get to know me.” – ANDREA

34:13 “You have experiences as a white person. I have experiences as a black person. You can’t relate to what I say but you need to try to understand.” – MERCIA

30:24 “I am going to be unapologetically black in everything that I do even if that means being isolated.” – MERCIA

17:28 “Race might be uncomfortable to talk about, but you got to become uncomfortable, you got to learn.” – ANDREA

14:22 “We’ve come a long way but we still have so much work to do.” – STEPHANIE

What does success look like about this topic 5 years from now? – start at 12:00  

“In 5 years, seeing diversity within the actual physical therapy world” – AMY

“I would love to see more support groups within PT programs.” – ANDREA

“Success looks like better patient outcomes.” – MERCIA

“From an institutional level, look to not being afraid to have these conversations.” – STEPHANIE

PARTING SHOT – start at 4:30

“Change begins with ourselves.” – AMY

“We need to become comfortable with the uncomfortable conversations of race.” ANDREA

“When people talk about their experiences, you need to listen.” – STEPHANIE

“Challenge people to look at who’s around them… Have some diversity around you.” – MERCIA