Physical Therapy School Category: Physical Therapy Programs
General Program Description
The WVU Physical Therapy Program was established in1970 under the auspices of the School of Medicine to help meet the need for physical therapists in West Virginia. The entry level master’s (MPT) degree was offered for 10 years, from Fall 1997 until the last graduates in August 2007. Beginning fall 2005, the professional education program transitioned to the entry level doctoral (DPT) degree, with the first cohort of graduates in May 2008. The DPT degree requires a baccalaureate degree prior to admission. The DPT degree uses a hybrid/traditional curricular model which is supplemented by clinical problem solving courses and an evidence-based curricular track. This affords students the stability of an established traditional mode of education supplemented by contemporary curricular methods in order to develop a thoughtful, evidence-based approach to physical therapy practice. The program in physical therapy at WVU has been a national leader in participating in innovative programs such as the prior Rural Health Education Partnership (RHEP) and current physical therapy Rural Health Education clinical education requirement.
The DPT clinical education curriculum offers two semesters of part-time clinical observation experience and four eight week full-time clinical education experiences, one of which must fulfill the rural health education requirement. The physical therapy education program at WVU views clinical education as an essential part of the education program. The program is affiliated with more than 350 clinical facilities that provide a variety of educational experiences. Students are required to obtain clinical education experience in core areas of acute care (hospital based), outpatient and long-term rehabilitation. Other clinical experiences available include specialized areas such as women’s health, wound care, pediatrics, and sports medicine. The mandatory rural health rotation requires community based participation experiences which include other disciplines when possible. Clinical education facilities are primarily located within West Virginia and surrounding states; however, there are some facilities across the country. Students are responsible for all expenses related to clinical education, such as travel, housing, meals, tuition, drug screening and background checks, clothing, health insurance, books, personal, and incidental expenses.
The diversity of faculty experience and qualifications is viewed as a strength of the program. There are eleven full-time faculty, one part-time faculty, and three faculty who routinely teach in the program but hold primary appointments in other units of the School of Medicine. Eight of the core faculty hold terminal doctoral degrees and seven are Board Certified Clinical Specialists (cardiopulmonary, hand therapy, neurology, geriatrics, women’s health, and orthopedics). The fields in which the faculty hold post-professional degrees include anatomy, education, public health, statistics, exercise science, physiology, neurosciences and psychology/neurobiology. One of the faculty who holds a joint appointment is a nationally known expert in muscle physiology and the other is an epidemiologist who oversees orthopedic outcomes research and has extramural funding. Faculty turnover is limited; the core faculty have an average of 14.8 years of academic experience at West Virginia University. All core faculty who hold a PT license practice on a part-time basis in the clinic or in a hospital setting as part of their faculty appointment.
More than 29,000 students are enrolled at West Virginia University (WVU). There are currently approximately 114 students enrolled in the professional physical therapy degree program across 3 cohorts (classes). The program has an expected capacity of 120 total students, which reflects an average annual enrollment of 40 students per class.
Admission to the physical therapy education program is competitive. In order to apply to the WVU Physical Therapy Program, applicants must have a baccalaureate degree in any field, with exercise science, athletic training, or biology recommended, and must have the following pre-requisite courses: 8 hours of biology with lab, 8 hours of chemistry with lab, 8 hours of physics with lab, 3 hours of general and 3 hours of life-span developmental psychology, 3 hours of introductory statistics, 3 hours of human anatomy and 3 hours of human physiology. Applicants must have a minimum cumulative and pre-requisite science GPA of 3.0 and have taken the Graduate Record Exam (GRE). Applicants must have a minimum grade of C in all pre-requisite courses and must have completed a minimum of 60 hours of clinical volunteer or work experience in a physical therapy setting. At least two types of clinical experiences are required. In 2014 we received 236 qualified applicants and accepted 40 first-year students with an average undergraduate GPA of 3.65. Prospective students are required to submit their application via PTCAS (Physical Therapy Centralized Application Service).
Program outcomes for the DPT program include a 3 year average graduation rate of 98%; a 94% average first-time board pass rate; and over 95% of graduates obtain employment as a physical therapist within 6 months of graduation. Clinical performance of students in their final clinical experience averages 9.5/10 or higher in each area of the Clinical Performance Instrument (CPI). Strengths of the program cited in surveys by graduates and employers include expertise of the faculty, anatomy, orthopedic physical therapy, neurologic rehabilitation,, geriatrics, documentation and the ability of graduates to work as a member of the healthcare team.
Tuition, fees and financial aid
The annual tuition and fees for $14,985 for residents and $35,640 for non-residents. Books and supplies are about $2,000 per year. There is a one time mandatory computer purchase at the beginning of the program for approximately $2,000 and mandatory APTA membership while in the program. Cost of living includes room and board. Most students choose to live near the Health Sciences Center and an average apartment cost is $635.00. A limited number of scholarships and graduate assistant opportunities exist.
West Virginia University, founded in 1867, is located in Morgantown, West Virginia, a city of nearly 30,000 residents near West Virginia’s northern border, approximately 1.5 hours form Pittsburgh, PA. Through 13 colleges and schools, WVU offers 191 bachelors, masters, doctoral, and professional degree programs. The comprehensive Health Sciences Center consists of five schools: Pharmacy, Nursing, Dentistry, Public Health and Medicine. Within the School of Medicine, there are a number of Professional Programs, one of which is the Physical Therapy Program. The Carnegie Institute for the Advancement of Teaching has placed WVU in the Research University Classification (High Research Activity) – the only West Virginia institution in this designation and one of only 103 in the United States. As West Virginia’s major research and development center and only comprehensive doctoral-granting institution, WVU faculty conducts over $174 million in sponsored research contracts and grants per year. WVU is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools and dozens of specialized academic accrediting agencies. The Physical Therapy program has been continuously accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education programs (CAPTE) since 1972. WVU has two main campuses: the downtown campus and the Evansdale campus. The Health Sciences Center is located on the Evansdale campus, where most professional students choose to reside. Some of the notable parts of the WVU student experience include a state of the art student recreation center; Big Twelbve Division I college athletics including football and basketball; a large intramural athletic program and many arts events, including student productions and national touring companies. Located in “Mountaineer Country,” Morgantown is a recreational haven year-round. Recreational activities nearby include snow skiing, mountain biking and whitewater rafting. Morgantown, West Virginia’s fifth largest city, was recently rated the No. 1 Small City in America and the Best Small City in the East. Morgantown is within easy traveling distance of Washington, DC, to the east, Pittsburgh, PA, to the north, and is easy to reach from Cleveland and Columbus, OH.
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