Fifty-two University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences students, members of the Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) Class of 2019, start the clinical studies portion of their journey to become doctors of physical therapy on Aug. 14.
The students, 27 women and 25 men, range in age from 20 to 26 years, with the average age of 22.67. Many are from North Dakota, and most completed their pre-PT coursework at UND.
The first three years of the PT curriculum at the UND SMHS are considered to be pre-physical therapy (undergraduate, pre-professional work). The professional component of the DPT requires three academic years and two summer sessions following completion of the 90-credit pre-physical therapy entrance requirement. After completing their first year of the professional component of the physical therapy curriculum, students have to pass an intense, comprehensive examination before they begin their clinical studies, which typically occur outside the Greater Grand Forks area.
Clinical experiences are a crucial component of the UND physical therapy curriculum and take place at more than 300 clinical sites across the nation. These experiences meld academic learning with hands-on clinical experience. Students participate in direct delivery of physical therapy services in a variety of settings under the direction and supervision of one or more clinical instructors. A physical therapist is on-site during the delivery of any service by a student physical therapist.
Earlier this summer, students received their white coats at an Entrance Into Professional Service Ceremony in Grand Forks.
The event’s keynote speaker was Dr. Laurie Betting, senior advisor to UND President Mark Kennedy. Dr. Betting is a UND PT alumnus with more than 15 years of increasing responsibility and service at UND, including national recognition for award-winning facilities, programs, and services. She has been given the UND Presidential Medal of Honor, the Charles E. Kupchella Preventive Medicine and Wellness Award, and APTA Emerging Leader Award.
According to David Relling, associate professor and chair of the Department of Physical Therapy, the ceremony emphasized to the students the professionalism required in the clinic and within the physical therapy profession.
“Students are making the transition from being a student to being a health care professional. With that transition comes a great deal of responsibility and accountability to themselves and to their patients,” noted Relling. “For many students, this will be the first life experience they will have had that requires such a high level of professionalism and responsibility. We have trained them well, they have worked hard, and we anticipate they will do a great job working within a comprehensive, interprofessional health care team.”
UND SMHS DPT Class of 2019: