The physical therapy education program at Western University of Health

Sciences is changing its current Master of Physical Therapy degree to the

Doctor of Physical

Therapy (DPT). Applications are being accepted until February 1 for

the August 2003 start date for the three-year program.

The university received approval to make the transition from the Western

Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC), the regional accrediting

agency, earlier this month.

“”The role of the physical therapist is expanding and beginning to include

primary care, “” said Donna Redman-Bentley, PhD, PT, chair of the

university’s Department of Physical Therapy Education. “”As such, physical

therapists will be expected to perform medical screening, have a stronger

knowledge base of the medical and clinical sciences, and be able to

perform higher level problem-solving and clinical decision making.””

Until relatively recently, most of the 203 accredited PT programs in the

country awarded either a bachelor’s or master’s degree. But the profession

is moving to the DPT degree as the “”entry-level”” degree into the

profession, Dr. Redman-Bentley said. Creighton University was the first to

award the DPT degree in 1996 and, according to the American Physical

Therapy Association, as of July 2002, 59 of the 203 accredited entry-level

programs have moved to the doctoral level, with 60 more in some phase of

planning to transition to the DPT.

The program will increase from two-years, four-months, to three years in

length. In addition, curriculum changes include: