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ULM Health Science programs expand with Doctor of Physical Therapy

Published August 24, 2018

The University of Louisiana Monroe has added another significant program to the College of Health Sciences — the Doctor of Physical Therapy. The official announcement came Wednesday at the Board of Regents meeting.

 “This is another step forward for ULM,” said President Nick J. Bruno. “This and future programs will be started that will provide professionals needed in our region and state.”

Dr. Eric Pani was in Baton Rouge at the meeting when the announcement was made. He said Regent Charles McDonald noted that ULM’s breadth of health science programs makes it stand out as a leader in the education of professionals in those fields.

“I am very excited about adding this program to ULM’s academic portfolio,” Pani said. “It broadens our health science and doctoral-level professional programs, advancing us toward our strategic vision. But more importantly, the graduates from this program will help alleviate a statewide shortage of physical therapists and will improve the quality of life for Louisianians.”

University leaders and Health Sciences faculty have worked several years to achieve this goal, according to Dr. Ken Alford, Interim Dean of the College of Health Sciences.

"This approval by the Board of Regents is the culmination of several years of continuous effort by a group of people at ULM and we are very excited to move forward. Our region has a shortage of qualified physical therapists and the development of the program will help to serve all of Louisiana and provide an excellent professional career path for our students,” he said.

“We now will begin the task of developing the facility and faculty with the intent to welcome our first class in the summer of 2020,” Alford said.

In 2015, the regulations for physical therapists changed. Licensed physical therapists now must hold a clinical Doctor of Physical Therapy, so it is a graduate program.

Alford explained that students will apply to the Doctor of Physical Therapy program after completing a pre-physical therapy major or concentration such as kinesiology or biology. At ULM the concentration is in the kinesiology major, also known as Exercise Science Pre-PT.

“The strength of ULM’s ESPT concentration is one of the reasons that a Doctor of Physical Therapy program is likely to be very successful here,” Alford said. “We have our own ‘homegrown’ pool of strong applicants in addition to those that will come to use worldwide.”