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Kettering College Seeking Accreditation for New Physical Therapy Doctorate Program
KETTERING, Ohio, December 19, 2017 – Kettering College is developing a physical therapy doctorate program, with tentative plans to accept new student applications in Fall 2019. Earlier in 2017, the college took its first major step forward in the process by hiring Thomas Birk, PhD, MPT, as program director. Birk comes to the college from the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee, where he served as associate dean for academic and health sciences at the school’s College of Health Sciences.
Birk is working closely with the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE) to develop the doctoral program’s application for candidacy. Once the application is approved, the school can begin admitting students and then is eligible to receive full accreditation after its first students graduate. Kettering College went through a similar process when it established its first doctoral program, in occupational therapy, in 2014.
Prior to 2015, people who wished to take the licensure exam for physical therapy needed to complete a master’s in a physical therapy program. Now, according to rule changes by the CAPTE, they must have a doctorate in physical therapy. The Kettering College doctorate in physical therapy will be a three-and-a-half year program and include extensive classroom instruction, hands-on training, clinical internships, and a broad education about physical therapy’s role in caring for different types of patients, such as those with cancer, skin diseases, and heart conditions.
The path to accreditation is long and arduous but will be worth the effort, Birk says. “As our country’s population ages, we are seeing a greater need for physical therapists—in fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics says that by 2024, the demand for physical therapists will rise by 34 percent compared to 2014,” he explains. “Our program will provide high-quality training for students who want to pursue this career, and ensure that patients in the Dayton area have access to the rehabilitation and physical therapy they need.”
Birk has extensive experience in academia and school administration. Prior to working at UW-Milwaukee, he was at Wayne State University in Detroit, where he worked for 15 years, including nine as chair of the Department of Health Care Sciences and chair of the physical therapy program. He led the school through the initial accreditation process when the physical therapy program advanced to the doctorate program level several years ago.
Birk earned his doctorate in exercise physiology at the University of Mississippi; graduate degrees at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Ill. (exercise science) and at Oakland University in Rochester, Mich., (physical therapy), and a bachelor’s of science in physical education at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. He has been involved in physical therapy since 1981 and hopes to continue doing so while at Kettering College.
“I have worked in this field for many years, but the position at Kettering College held fresh appeal because of the school’s close affiliation with Kettering Health Network, which provides needed clinical training and job opportunities for students,” he says. “Coming from an institution with a student body of 30,000, I have really been struck by how fun it is to work with a smaller group of enthusiastic faculty and administrators. We are all pulling in the same direction to create an outstanding physical therapy doctorate program for our future students.”
Kettering College doctorate in physical therapy director, Thomas Birk, PhD, MPT
About Kettering College
Kettering College is a fully accredited, coeducational college that specializes in health science education. A division of Kettering Medical Center, the College is located on the hospital’s campus in a suburb of Dayton, Ohio, and is chartered by the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Kettering College offers certificate programs, Associate and Bachelor of Science degrees, a Master of Physician Assistant Studies degree, and an Occupational Therapy Doctoral degree.