New U program offers doctorate in physical therapy

Courtney Lewis

When Jennifer Steele graduated from the College of Liberal Arts last May with a biology degree, she wanted to continue her education in one of the 200 physical therapy programs offered nationally.

But with family members in the area, she didn’t want to leave the University.

Until recently, that wouldn’t have been an option. But starting this summer the University will offer a physical therapy doctorate program.

It is the first public institution in the five-state region of Wisconsin, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota to offer the program. Only one private school in Iowa has offered this program, said James Carey, professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation.

Students interested in the program could have previously applied for a master’s degree in physical therapy.

“I feel like it’s more of an accomplishment,” Steele said of why she prefers the doctorate program over a master’s degree option.

Applications are currently being accepted for entry in July. Students must begin the program with 20 credits per semester in order to receive the DPT certificate from the three-year program. In subsequent semesters their credit loads will taper, Carey said.

“It’s intense,” Carey said. Although the program requires a minimum of 146 credits, Carey said summer classes make the program feasible.

Steele was accepted into the clinical doctorate program and said she was glad the school decided to offer it.

Steele said the workload is more than she’s used to, but stringent admissions requirements help ensure it is manageable for most students who are accepted.

Prerequisites for the degree can be earned through the College of Liberal Arts by taking two courses in each of the physics, biology, chemistry, anatomy, physiology, calculus, statistics and psychology disciplines.

Carey said 30 students will be admitted for July classes.

“Physical therapy practice now demands a much more scholarly training to competently prepare graduates for the challenges of health care today and in the future,” Carey said in a written statement. He also said better health care should be more accessible with an advanced degree.

Courtney Lewis welcomes comments at [email protected]