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UCF Switching to Doctoral Program for Physical Therapy Students

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Students who enter the University of Central Floridas Physical Therapy program will enroll in a new doctoral program instead of a masters degree program starting this summer.

Switching from a masters to a doctoral program reflects a national trend in physical therapy education, said Gerald Smith, director of UCFs Physical Therapy program. The trend follows a call by the American Physical Therapy Association for all physical therapy programs to be at the doctoral level by 2020. The APTA is the national accrediting body for academic programs in the discipline.
Health care has become increasingly complex, and practioners require an education with additional breadth and depth to become truly effective, said Diane Jacobs, chair and professor of Health Professions at UCF.

The change follows approval of the new program by the Florida Board of Governors in late March. Thirty-two students will begin the new program on May 14.

The doctoral program adds 35 credit hours over two semesters to UCFs masters degree program in physical therapy, which will be discontinued after the last class graduates in 2008. The additional credit hours will consist of new courses and more clinical practice.

There is a tremendous need for physical therapists in Florida, Smith said. He cited a 2004 study by the U.S. Census Bureau in which about a third of the states residents reported they had a disability that affected their ability to fully participate in life. But according to the APTA and states Board of Physical Therapy Examiners, there is just one physical therapist for every 439 residents in Florida; the ratio is one to 298 nationally.

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