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January 2009

Release Date: Jan. 29, 2009ASU Logo

Angelo State’s First Doctoral Program Becomes Official

Authorization for Angelo State University’s first doctorate came Thursday (Jan. 29) when the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) gave final approval for a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program to begin accepting students for classes beginning in May.

Coordinating Board approval puts Angelo State University on course to award its first doctoral degree during May commencement exercises in 2012.

ASU President Joseph C. Rallo said the new degree program is a milestone in Angelo State history.

“Being able to offer a doctorate,” said Dr. Rallo, “is recognition of the quality of a program and, by extension, the quality of a university. This doctorate is another step in the evolution of Angelo State University and in fulfilling our commitment to the residents of the Concho Valley and the people of the State of Texas.”

The ASU physical therapy program began in 1999, accepted its first students in the summer of 2000 and conferred its first Master of Physical Therapy (MPT) degrees upon 10 graduates in December of 2002. Not only is the PT Department one of the youngest on campus, the College of Nursing and Allied Health where it resides administratively was created just last September.

Nursing and Allied Health Dean Leslie Mayrand said the DPT is part of the first phase of the new college’s development and reflects planned growth of the college to address health needs for West Texas and beyond.

Dr. Mayrand said, “This is an honor to our young college and a testament to the hard work of our physical therapy faculty in building the strong foundation that made this doctorate possible.”

Dr. Scott Hasson, head of the Physical Therapy Department, said “I think our faculty and, in particular, Dr. Shelly Weise should be commended for their work in bringing about the DPT. The Department of Physical Therapy and the College of Nursing and Allied Health under the leadership of Dean Mayrand will serve as a catalyst in further evolution of Angelo State as a more research-intensive university.”

The application process for establishing a doctoral degree is extensive, requiring approval from the Texas Tech University System Board of Regents and the THECB as well as authorization from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, which accredits Angelo State, and the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education.

Hasson said that with 95 percent of the nation’s programs converting from the MPT to the DPT, it was imperative for ASU to move to the doctoral level to attract students. The change also reflects a broader goal of the American Physical Therapy Association to produce autonomous, self-directed primary care providers in physical therapy by 2020.

“The practice of physical therapy is envisioned to go well beyond today’s notions of providing only rehabilitation care,” Hasson said. “The physical therapist of the near future will provide health/wellness advice and care to stem the rise of self-generating diseases such as diabetes, cancer and cardiopulmonary pathologies. Inactivity, obesity, smoking and alcohol/drug abuse are problems that will impact health as many Americans age.”

Hasson said the DPT will require a revision and expansion of the department’s curriculum. The number of courses will increase from 24 at the MPT level to 27 at the DPT level. In addition to extensive classroom work, PT students must complete 30 weeks, up from 24, of clinical training. The clinical rotations include eight weeks of hospital acute care, 10 weeks of outpatient orthopedic training and 12 weeks of rehabilitation instruction. In addition to the increased coursework and clinical training, the time to complete the degree will increase from 2.5 years for the MPT to three years for the DPT.

“Ultimately,” said Hasson, “as the department and university evolve toward a doctoral university, I believe our move to this degree will focus even more emphasis on undergraduate, graduate and faculty research.”