This is national Physical Therapy Month. It's a good time to think a bit about the important leadership and service role provided by this important discipline. Physical therapists have been at the heart of rehabilitation for at least the last century. Interestingly the first modern school of PT was established at Walter Reed Army Hospital following World War I. There are now over 200 Physical Therapy Schools in the USA and many more around the world. The profession of physical therapy has advanced their own educational standards from a certificate to bachelor's degree entry to master's entry and most recently to a professional doctoral degree.
At the Institute, Physical Therapy has been a leader since the beginning! The first degrees offered by the Institute thirty years ago were in Physical Therapy. Nancy Watts, one of our founders, assured that the important link between Mass General and the Institute were firmly in place. She was also committed to assuring that the Institute's PT programs were unique, distinctive, and of high quality.
The founders of the Institute wisely placed PT, along with Nursing and Speech-Language Pathology, as the key professional programs to be offered. Since that time our own PT program has grown to include over 200 students in entry level and master's programs. The program is ranked as 7th in the country by US News and World Report. Over 500 students apply to the PT programs each year, making them very competitive. The result is that the Institute is blessed with a remarkably bright and passionate group of entry level and master's students every year.
There are lots of things that I have learned about our PT program. Let me share a few (that you may already know). First, our curriculum is quite unique. The program has been designed to integrate clinical laboratory experiences into the didactic portion of key courses. This is a unique differentiator for our programs. Last year, we opened the new Center for Health Promotion, an onsite PT Center for student training. This is wonderful gift to the community as well as providing a valuable site for our students. Many of our own faculty members have served in key roles in the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA). Currently, Dean Lesley Portney leads the Education Section of the organization providing important direction for the future of the education programs in PT. Dr. Aimee Klein has served for several years as a member of the APTA national Board of Directors. It is wonderful that the Institute's talent is able to influence direction and national strategy for the association.
Our PT students are spectacular. They raise money for great causes including their well established annual kickball (or dodge ball?) tournament. In addition to their extensive practicum and internship requirements, our PT students all complete a community health course that includes a service project for health promotion. The outcomes of these projects are impressive and address issues of nutrition, obesity, exercise in the homeless (DJ is a leader in this area!), and so forth. A new initiative involves our Physical Therapy students in innovative projects with other students from Seton Hall University and two Scandinavian schools. Two students just returned from Finland and more will participate next year.
So, congratulations to our PT colleagues and students! We honor your participation and leadership and look forward to the next exciting phase of your life at the IHP!
PS: To learn more about National PT month, check out www. moveforwardpt.com.