Physical therapy programming at Bradley has evolved to meet ever-changing demands.

The demands on today’s healthcare professional are ever-changing, and Bradley University’s Department of Physical Therapy and Health Science remains steadfast in its efforts to make sure graduates are prepared to excel in this dynamic environment.

The evolution of physical therapy programming at Bradley mirrors the increasing demand on industry professionals over the past few decades. The university accepted its first group of physical therapy majors in 1990, graduating 15 students with a baccalaureate in physical therapy (BSPT), and between 1994 and 2000, 176 students graduated with a BSPT. In 2000, responding to the expanding knowledge base required to practice physical therapy, and with an emphasis on evidence-based practice, the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education established guidelines requiring all educational programs to prepare students at the post-baccalaureate level. At this time, the BSPT curriculum changed to a master’s degree in physical therapy (MPT), and between 2002 and 2008, 73 students graduated with their MPT.

In order to prepare students for the rigors of post-graduate work in physical therapy and other healthcare professions, Bradley also created a new undergraduate degree in health science. To date, more than 550 graduates from Bradley’s health science program have gone on to pursue professions in physical therapy, occupational therapy, medicine, optometry, pharmacy, accelerated nursing, athletic training, chiropractic and healthcare administration.

While at Bradley, students majoring in health science have successfully completed a minor academic degree that includes areas such as biology, health, sociology, psychology, business administration, foreign language and others. Many of Bradley’s health science majors also successfully complete a Global Scholars program aligned with the College of Education and Health Science that encompasses work on campus and at least four credit hours of Study Abroad.

Today’s physical therapist graduate is prepared like no other to examine and treat individuals with impaired mobility. Whether dysfunction is due to congenital or developmental disabilities or from a traumatic brain injury; from an injury sustained on the football field or battlefield; today’s physical therapist is the provider of choice to restore mobility and function. To assume these tremendous responsibilities, Bradley physical therapy majors can now obtain a clinical doctorate degree (DPT). The successful DPT graduate has finished a four-year undergraduate degree, along with a three-year course of study that entails 35 weeks of full-time clinical experience. Since its inception in 2002, Bradley has graduated 126 students with the DPT degree.

To practice as a physical therapist, the DPT graduate must successfully pass a national physical therapist licensure examination. Since the program’s first BSPT graduates in 1994 through the graduating class of 2013, Bradley boasts a 100-percent pass rate on the license exam and a first-time pass rate of 98 percent. Six months after graduation, 100 percent of Bradley’s DPT students are employed in the field of physical therapy.

In addition to the extremely talented core of undergraduate and graduate students, the Department of Physical Therapy and Health Science faculty is second to none. Nine of its 10 core faculty members have terminal academic degrees (PhD or DSc). Faculty consists of two board-certified orthopedic clinical specialists, two board-certified pediatric clinical specialists, one board-certified geriatric clinical specialist, and one board-certified sports clinical specialist. Faculty members have authored texts, textbook chapters and a number of peer-reviewed professional papers, as well as made numerous professional presentations at the state, national and international levels.

Alumni from both the undergraduate and graduate programs are employed in a variety of healthcare professions across the country. Whether as a therapist at world-renowned cancer or rehabilitation centers, or as regional director of multiple outpatient clinics across the Midwest, Bradley graduates excel in all they do. iBi

Steven Tippett is a professor and chairperson of the Department of Physical Therapy and Health Science.