New doctorate in PT offered

11:03:37 AM CDT - Thursday, April 07, 2005

By Shannon Littlejohn

The College of Health Professions now offers a doctor of physical therapy degree, and the first class with the official professional DPT curriculum will begin this June with 32 students who have already been accepted, said Kathy Lewis, associate professor of physical therapy.

"That's a full class, then we have an alternate list," said Lewis. In fact, physical therapy always has waiting lists of potential students, she said.

The college will still offer the master's degree, the minimum level required by its already-accredited program. The move to a doctoral degree is not a mandate from physical therapy's accrediting agency; it's a vision for 2020 put forth by its professional association.

Lewis said the field has experienced a shortage of personnel for many years, but now the job market is reviving.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of physical therapists is expected to grow faster than the average for all occupations through 2012.

Nationally, employment of physical therapists is expected to grow by 33 percent, which is much faster than the 15 percent average growth for all occupations through 2010. That statistic reflects a demand that should continue to rise as the elderly population lives longer, baby boomers start needing more health care services and medical technology continues to develop, saving more lives and creating more options for rehabilitation.

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