Physical Therapy School Category: Physical Therapy Programs
General Program Description
The entry-level, doctor of physical therapy program is designed around several important approaches to learning so that graduates excel in serving patients and clients as practitioners capable of autonomous decisions as part of a health care team. Courses are designed to progressively build critical thinking, clinical decision-making and clinical reasoning skills with increasingly complex patient problems. Courses that focus on learning the practice of physical therapy are closely integrated with the basic sciences such as anatomy, kinesiology, and biomechanics. Pharmacology, imaging and the medical management of patients are simultaneously covered in concert with the clinical courses. Physical therapy services through the lifespan, from pediatrics through geriatrics, are interwoven in the clinical courses and there are additional, specific courses that address the needs of these special populations served by physical therapists. There are clinical case study courses in small-group seminar format that also synchronize with other courses each semester. During semesters 2, 3 and 5, students have one-week integrated clinical experiences under the mentorship of physical therapists during which they are able to see patients who have problems similar to those being covered in the classroom. Students see patients who have neuromuscular problems under faculty supervision in a free outpatient clinic during two semesters. Two eight-week clinical experiences are interspersed after key semesters so that classroom learning is reinforced with clinical experience. The importance of communication and relationship between the physical therapist and patients in a culturally diverse environment and the multiple roles of physical therapists in the health care system are addressed throughout the program. Students begin the 33-month, full-time program each fall. The final twenty-two weeks of the program are spent on a full-time clinical internship.
There are a total of 41 weeks of full time clinical experiences in the program. Students spend one week full-time (40 hours) in clinical experiences in local clinical facilities during three didactic semesters, starting in the second semester. There are two full-time eight-week experiences interspersed in the curriculum, one following the majority of the musculoskeletal content in the fall and the other following the majority of the neuromuscular and pediatric content in the summer. Students begin a 22-week, full-time internship in January after the last academic semester. There is no tuition charged during the internship, and students progress from a student to a mentored staff clinician role. Clinical experiences and internships are available throughout the United States, with the highest concentration in northern California.
There are eight full-time and 32 part-time faculty. Two other full-time University faculty teach in the DPT program. Of these full-time faculty members, all hold post-professional doctoral degrees and four are board certified clinical specialists. All part-time faculty members are practicing clinicians, three are board certified clinical specialists and two are graduates of post-professional residency programs. Over the past three years, the faculty has published 28 publications in peer-reviewed journals. The full-time faculty to student ratio is 1:11. The faculty student ratio in clinical lab courses is 1:10 and in anatomy lab it is 1:16.
The University enrolls over 1,200 students. The Department of Physical Therapy enrolls 38 students each fall into the DPT program.
The application deadline for the physical therapy program is October 1 of each year. Samuel Merritt University participates in the Physical Therapy Centralized Application Service (PTCAS). Applicants must have completed their bachelor’s degree and all prerequisites prior to enrollment in the program. Prerequisites include: 3 semester hours each of English composition, general psychology, statistics, and a psychology or social science elective; 8 semester hours each of chemistry, physics and general biology (with labs); 3 semester hours each of human anatomy and human physiology. Experience in a physical therapy in-patient setting is also required. Minimum verbal GRE is 450, minimum quantitative GRE is 500, minimum cumulative GPA is 2.8 in last 60 semester units and minimum science GPA is 2.6. Selected, qualified applicants are invited to interview and an on-site interview is required for admission. There were 180 applicants for fall 2007 and 152 met pre-requisite requirements. The class admitted in the fall of 2012 had a cumulative GPA of 3.44 and prerequisite GPA of 3.57.
The graduation rate in 2012 was 93.8%. 100% of graduates pass the PT licensure exam, and first time pass rates were 97% in 2011, and 93% in 2012 and 84.3% in 2013 (national averages were 89% and 89% and 90% respectively). In the 2012 graduating class, 94% found employment within six months of graduation.
Tuition, fees and financial aid
For a student admitted the 2013/2014 academic year, the tuition is $42,795 per year for the first two years and $14,265 for the third year. The tuition rate does not stay the same throughout a student’s matriculation; there may be annual increases. There is a one-time fee of $300 in the last semester of the program and a $1,500 matriculation fee during the six month internship. For specific information, contact the Office of Financial Aid, Samuel Merritt University, 3100 Telegraph Avenue, Suite 1110, Oakland, CA, 94609. The phone number for inquiries is (510) 869-1589. Samuel Merritt University’s loan default rate is <1%, far below the national average.
Samuel Merritt University specializes in the health sciences, offering entry-level programs at the doctoral level in podiatry, nursing and physical therapy, masters programs in occupational therapy, physician assistant and nursing, and an undergraduate nursing program. The student body is representative of the diversity of the San Francisco Bay Area. The University is located on the Alta-Bates Summit Medical Center complex near downtown Oakland. The University’s metropolitan setting in the center of the diverse, temperate San Francisco Bay Area offers students a broad range of recreational and social activities. There is easy access to mountains and the ocean, in nearby regional, state and national parks. Students at the University have the opportunity to contribute to the community through volunteer service activities. The University is easily accessible on public transportation via Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART). Attention Program Directors: Corrections to program data should be entered on the CAPTE Accreditation Portal. Any questions should be directed to the Accreditation Department at [email protected] or 1-800-999-2782 x3245
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