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Photo provided via OU's Physical Therapy website.

OU’s physical therapy graduate program opens doors for students

Inside Grover Hall sits the office for Ohio University’s physical therapy program. Founded in 1979, the program was one of the first inside of the College of Health and Human Services — now the College of Health and Sciences. Today it is ranked in the top 25% in the nation, due to the services taught to the students.

“We are top 25, but I definitely think we aren't acknowledged as much as we should” Miranda Gibel, a first-year in the physical therapy program, said.

The Doctor of Physical Therapy program for graduate students focuses on a lot of aspects of physical therapy like neurology, orthopedics, hospital care and more to make students well-rounded and prepared for the field. 

“Our program also has an elective requirement in the final term,” Ashley Crow, Doctor of Physical Therapy assistant clinical professor, said. “So students can basically pick any of the content areas that they're particularly interested in. Which sets them ahead when they have advanced knowledge and practice in content areas.”

Many of the professors in the program are still practicing physical therapy, which allows the professors to teach from their recent experiences. It also allows them to evaluate what is taught in the classes and if it needs to be adapted.

“All the teachers are very well versed in their respective fields,” Brett Bell, a third-year student in the physical therapy program, said. “A lot of times when we go to the clinic, the people we work for are surprised that the stuff we know how to do and this stuff we can teach the clinic. There's still stuff that I have taught my clinic I'm working at right now and the program does a really good job of teaching you to be a really good clinician so that when you go out on these clinicals, you're a step ahead of other schools.”

The program also has an integrated clinical education model that allows students to go on clinical rotation, come back to study in classes, out for clinical rotation and end studying in classes. The program assists students in learning more about patient care as well as implementing what they have learned in classes.

“I definitely learned a lot about how to communicate with patients and how to take the knowledge that we've learned in the classroom and kind of put it in layman's terms for the common population so that they can understand what's going on,” Gibel said. “And I got to challenge myself and use the knowledge I've learned and apply it to how I can treat a patient.”

Crow also teaches students through virtual reality; 360 full immersion virtual reality creates a space to practice on patients without all of the stress of being in the field. 

“Acute care is a very hard environment to recreate,” Crow said. “I can't exactly bring a patient and a hospital room to campus and have students interact with it. These scenarios really create the sensation that they're in a hospital space.”

The program ranks so highly because of the success rate of the students. After graduation most students are prepared to pass their board certification after taking it for the first time. The program also offers a lot of opportunities to continue learning outside of the classroom. 

“It's a very good program,” Bell said. “It was the program I wanted to go to when I was in undergrad and I was ecstatic to get into it and I'm very honored to be graduating from it. It's a big thing to be an alumni from Ohio University, and the clinical I was on I ended up getting a job at … my first clinical and it's all thanks to the school.”


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