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06-07-2005

Clarkson University Will Offer A Doctorate In Physical Therapy

Clarkson University’s plan to offer students the opportunity to earn a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree has received approval from the New York State Education Department. The doctoral program will include both primary graduate physical therapy and transitional distance learning curriculum. Students who have graduated with a Master of Physical Therapy (MPT) degree will be eligible for the DPT program. The DPT degree is an entry-level clinical doctorate, distinct from a research doctorate.

“One of the goals of Clarkson’s Physical Therapy program is to develop practitioners with the technical knowledge to attend their patients’ physical needs, and with knowledge and skill in human relations, communications, ethics and effective resource management,” says Scott D. Minor, associate dean of Health Sciences and chair of the Department of Physical Therapy. “Students leave the program better prepared for their clinical practice and the lifelong learning process as healthcare professionals.”

Few physical therapists held doctoral degrees when Clarkson created its Department of Physical Therapy in 1997. Today, however, the professional standard of physical therapy is rapidly evolving from a Master of Physical Therapy to a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree. The American Physical Therapy Association’s (APTA) vision statement reads “practitioners of physical therapy shall be doctors of physical therapy by 2020.” In fact, the transition from MPT to DPT professionals is occurring even faster than APTA anticipated. It is now expected that at least 86% of all physical therapy programs will be at the DPT level within five to seven years.

“Clarkson’s change to a DPT-level program will require changes to the current curricula by modifying existing course content and adding eight additional weeks of clinical internship,” says Minor. “Patients expect their physical therapist to be a fully autonomous healthcare practitioner, and that means doctoral-level training,” added Minor.

Clarkson will matriculate the first Doctor of Physical Therapy class in August 2006. The MPT program will be discontinued once the DPT program has begun. Students who are in the MPT program will have an option to enter a transitional (DPT) program which will cover new material added to Clarkson’s DPT program, allowing current MPT graduates to obtain a DPT degree.

Clarkson University, located in Potsdam, New York, is an independent university with a reputation for developing innovative leaders in engineering, business and the arts and sciences. Its academically rigorous, collaborative culture involves 2,700 undergraduates and 400 graduate students in hands-on team projects, multidisciplinary research, and real-world challenges. Many faculty members achieve international recognition for their scholarship and research, and teaching is a priority at every level. For more information, visit http://www.clarkson.edu.

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Michael P. Griffin, director of News & Digital Content Services, at 315-268-6716 or mgriffin@clarkson.edu.]

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