DeSales University’s Doctor of Physical Therapy program has received accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE).
“Accreditation for a new DPT program is a really challenging, three-year process,” says Dr. Kay Malek, director of the DPT program. “It's not a slam dunk.”
Receiving accreditation was imperative since DPT students must graduate from an accredited program before they can sit for the national licensure exam. That meant making sure students in the University’s first DPT class, which began in September of 2014, knew the risks.
“DeSales has a great history of doing health care very well,” says Malek. “We have a strong physician assistant program and a strong nursing program. We're well known in the health-care industry. They [students] recognized that we had the support that we needed from the administration and the health-care community to build a quality program. And we've done exactly that.”
CAPTE viewed the program’s free physical therapy clinics — provided by students and faculty four times a year — and its integrated curriculum as strengths. “The design of our curriculum is very unique,” Malek says. “We integrate the basic science coursework alongside the clinical application. Our clinicians are finding that our students are better clinical thinkers because they learned in an integrated way.”
The program also received a special commendation from CAPTE, which recognized DeSales for “the development and implementation of a strong, professional doctoral program in physical therapy and for the quality of its Self-Study Report.”
The accreditation took effect on April 26 and lasts until June 30, 2022. The program will graduate its first class of 24 students on September 1, 2017. Students will be honored before that during a recognition and awards ceremony on July 21.
Going forward more big things are in store for students and the program. Next spring, the first pair of DPT students will travel to Perugia, Italy, for an eight-week clinical rotation. Malek is also looking into expanding opportunities to the existing clinical community by offering continuing education in an annual symposium format. “Our goal is to contribute to the ongoing knowledge and educational foundation for our graduates and for clinicians in the region so that we can enhance the quality of physical therapy services in our community.”
The Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education is an accrediting agency that is nationally recognized by the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). CAPTE currently accredits more than 200 physical therapist education programs and more than 250 physical therapist assistant education programs in the United States.
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