Post-professional Doctor of Physical Therapy (PPDPT) Program
The following definition is provided by the American Physical Therapy Association. (APTA web site, 2000):
Post-professional educational programs: The "Post-professional" DPT is the degree conferred upon successful completion of a post-professional physical therapist education program. The "Post-professional" DPT is intended for practicing clinicians and typically offers a didactic and, in some cases, a clinical augmentation that is deemed necessary to meet current and future expectations for physical therapy practice.
Program format: The program is offered in a Tuesday and Thursday evening format from 5:00 to 10:20 p.m. This evening format enables practicing clinicians to continue employment while pursuing their advanced degree. Some students, due to other obligations, may choose to pursue the program on a part-time basis (i.e. one night a week).
All candidates trained in the United States must have graduated from a CAPTE-accredited physical therapy program and have earned a master's degree to begin the program. There is no GRE requirement for acceptance into this program.
The post-professional graduate committee will assess statistics, research, and computer competencies. If additional work is needed in one or more of the three areas, additional coursework at Loma Linda University may be required.
Candidates from international programs must have their coursework evaluated by an international evaluation service. Candidates must have equivalent level of physical therapy education to US programs with final determination of equivalency and admission made by the post-professional graduate committee. A TOEFL score of 80 internet based (230 computer generated) is required for applicants whose first language is not English.
Since some courses are web based, all students admitted in the program must have access to a personal computer (minimum: 300 MHz multimedia) with Internet access (minimum: 56 kbs (V.90 standard)).
To graduate from the PPDPT program an individual must successfully complete 90 quarter units post-baccalaureate. A minimum of 45 quarter units must be completed in the DPT program at Loma Linda University.
Costs: The Post-professional DPT program is 45-quarter units in length.
Each student is expected to develop a strong knowledge base relating to the full spectrum of the practice of physical therapy, including the following areas:
Graduates from the post-professional doctor of physical therapy program are expected to develop their diagnostic skills to assist the team or physician in establishing an appropriate treatment plan. This includes understanding the significance of the findings and interpretation of radiographic reports.
Graduates from the post-professional doctor of physical therapy program are expected to expand their knowledge base in the basic sciences and learn to synthesize this knowledge during the evaluation, assessment, and treatment of their patient populations.
Each graduate from the post-professional doctor of physical therapy program is expected to develop a thorough understanding of administration and management styles and how each style relates to their particular professional environment.
Each graduate from the post-professional doctor of physical therapy program is expected to have developed a high level of clinical skills. These skills will be in harmony with and reflect a knowledge base resulting from current research and clinical trials.
Each graduate from the post-professional doctor of physical therapy program is expected to become skillful in critical analysis of scientific literature. They are expected to develop the ability to glean from and synthesize scientific literature and the associated research findings.
How many years does it take to complete the PPDPT program?
The PPDPT program is an eleven-month program (10 months if the student enrolls in a directed study during the program). The start date is the last Tuesday of September, but students can join at five-week intervals throughout the program. Since some courses are sequenced, it would take students longer to complete the program if they entered at a time other than September. The PPDPT is a 45-quarter unit program. Full-time students will complete 12-quarter units (or more) per 10-week quarter.
Do I have the option of attending the program part-time?
Yes. Although most of our students do attend full-time, a part-time track is available.
Can I still work as a physical therapist during the program?
The answer to this question is a resounding yes. Not only may you work as a physical therapist, but it is strongly encouraged. The program is set up in a clinician-friendly manner. The classes meet Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. to allow for the participant to maintain part or full-time employment. Our typical student is engaged in full-time clinical work.
How many students do you accept in the program?
Since this program is a clinical-based program, we typically limit our enrollment to 30 students. Although we have accepted 30 students for fall quarter 2001, numerous openings occur each quarter due to many students who have taken a half or three-quarter time track option. Please do not let our strong applicant pool discourage you; most, if not all, qualified applicants will get placed within one quarter of acceptance. As more PPDPT programs sprout up nationally, our applicant pool may decrease.
Is there a research component in the transitional DPT program?
Although research is and will remain a strength of the Loma Linda University physical therapy programs, students who have completed a full research component during their entry-level or post-professional master of physical therapy curriculum will not be required to perform an additional research project. For those applicants who have not completed an adequate research project, as deemed by the graduate committee, additional research coursework will be added to the 45-quarter unit curriculum. For those students who desire a stronger research track, the doctor of physical therapy science (DSc) offers two years of didactic education plus a formal research project.
Can I get a doctorate degree if I have a bachelor's degree in physical therapy but have not completed a master's degree?
Yes. Many of our students with their highest degree being a bachelor in physical therapy have earned doctorate degrees. I am one of those individuals. These students would first need to enroll in our post-professional master of physical therapy (PP-MPT) program that is also in an evening format. The PP-MPT program is also 45-quarter units in length, which includes a formal research project.
Can I customize the program to better meet my clinical skill and interests?
Yes. The student in the PPDPT has numerous options to help semi-customize his or her curriculum. The student may take as many as two directed studies. The directed study allows the student to choose a topic area that he or she wishes to independently study with the guidance of a faculty advisor. The curriculum has nine-quarter units of electives built into it. The PPDPT program has over a dozen electives to choose from. The student may also opt to transfer in approved electives at the 500 and 600 levels from other universities.
Twelve students for the 2003-2004 school year were selected to enroll in the Year Long Orthopaedic Manual Physical Therapy Course (Advanced Orthopaedic Procedures I, II, III - PHTH 551, 552, 553) offered by Joseph Godges, DPT, PT, OCS for nine-quarter units to be applied as elective credits. This course is designed to help the participant prepare for the Orthopaedic Clinical Specialist (OCS) examination, improve their manual therapy skills, and enhance their differential diagnostic techniques. Imagine adding the designations of DPT and OCS after your name in a one-year period.
Although Loma Linda University has been one of the premiere post-professional programs since 1994 with the post-professional master of physical therapy program, the first transitional DPT class graduated on June 10, 2001. A pre- and exit-questionnaire was given to each participant in the program. In all areas tested, the students' scores showed significant gains in competency. The areas tested included the following: 1) diagnostic skills, 2) basic science (including pharmacology), 3) administration, 4) clinical skills, and 5) literature analysis. We are very proud of our PPDPT program and our graduates. I hope this will serve to answer the majority of your questions. If you should have any additional questions please do not hesitate to contact me. Again let me express my delight that you are considering Loma Linda University. I wish you the best as you start your journey in post-professional education.