Doctor of physical therapy stumbles

Cameron Koch

The doctor of physical therapy program has hit a roadblock in the past few weeks, pushing the debut of the program back to the summer of 2013 instead of this fall.

Numerous levels of certification and approval are needed to get the program off the ground, something that didn’t come together in time for the fall launch.

After approval by the Board of Regents in January, the physical therapy program was submitted to the Council of Postsecondary Education for the next step of approval. The program is on the agenda of the April 20 CPE meeting, President Gary Ransdell said.

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools also has to review and approve the new program. That process is currently under way, Ransdell said.

Due to the unforeseen approval length of both the CPE and SACS, WKU missed The Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education’s deadline of March 1 to be reviewed for approval. CAPTE approval is the final step in the long accreditation process. The next CAPTE review cycle will start on Dec. 1.

Ransdell revealed the news at the Board of Regents committee meeting on March 23 and expressed disappointment that the schedule couldn’t come together.

“We had the letters from CPE and SACS that said this will be approved, but they (CAPTE) wouldn’t accept anything but final approval,” Ransdell said. “It’s disappointing to not do the first class this fall.”

A letter sent to students who signed up for the program in the fall states that students will still have their applications and application fee retained if they wish to be in the applicant pool for the summer of 2013.

Those who applied but no longer wish to be in the program or don’t wish to wait until 2013 must contact the physical therapy program by April 15 informing the program of their decision.

Students will be allowed to retake tests, update their transcripts and undergo the interview process once again if they wish.

Harvey Wallmann, director of the doctor of physical therapy, said he didn’t blame students who can’t afford to wait for WKU’s program to get off the ground.

“We had some pretty qualified applicants that applied,” Wallmann said. “Some of them, obviously they’ve been accepted elsewhere, and I don’t blame them.”

There is a silver lining to the delay however, Wallmann said.

“We can actually sit down and flesh out the program now,” Wallmann said. “It allows us to look at other faculty members to bring in — that’s the silver lining.”

Wallmann and the other physical therapy program faculty member, Academic Coordinator Kurt Neelly, will continue to work on the program in addition to teaching exercise science classes. The program is ready, but with another year to plan and revise, it will be more than ready next summer, Wallmann said.

“We’re going to hit the ground running.”