Undergraduate Rehabilitation Student Perceptions of Postgraduation Outcomes and Professional Identity

Gina R. Oswald, Garrett E. Huck, Lee Ann Rawlins Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


With the recent changes in the field of rehabilitation, combined with the absence of a singular career path and flexibility in graduate degrees, there is a growing need to address the quandary of a professional identity for undergraduate-level rehabilitation practitioners. A unified professional identity is important for students attempting to understand the profession, including professional standards, expectations, and codes of ethics. The purpose of the present study was to gain an understanding of undergraduate rehabilitation student perspectives on elements of a professional identity and intentions related to their pursuit of a rehabilitation degree. Participants (n = 129) were recruited from two undergraduate rehabilitation and disability programs; one program was in the Southern United States and one in the Midwest. Results indicate that participants overwhelmingly were interested in pursuing graduate degrees, albeit focus on an employment outcome postgraduation increased based on duration in degree. In addition, participants did not appear to value specific rehabilitation-related careers significantly above others, and very few had a clear grasp of specific national organizations, credentials, or codes of ethics related to their degrees. It is recommended that undergraduate rehabilitation and disability studies (URDS) programs incorporate extensive career exploration activities, preparation for graduate school admission and completion, and a clear understanding of national professional organizations, codes of ethics, and available credentials. Furthermore, with the support of national organizations and practitioners, the coherent development of a rehabilitation identity within undergraduate students should be encouraged in order to best facilitate their involvement in the broader field of rehabilitation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Applied Rehabilitation Counseling
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Analysis
  • Chiropractics
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Rehabilitation
  • Applied Psychology
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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