Elon’s Doctor of Physical Therapy program is built on solid principles of science and research. At the same time, we recognize a quality physical therapist is more than just a clinician. That’s why we are deliberate in our instruction of such values as compassion, listening, respect, organization and communication. The three-year, full-time program focuses on critical thinking, with an emphasis on treating the patient as a whole person with physical, emotional, mental and spiritual needs.
The DPT curriculum is carefully designed to build on a solid science foundation while integrating hands-on clinical practicums. Each module is made up of related courses, and the length of the modules – ranging from four to 24 weeks – is driven by course content.
Elon’s DPT program includes 48 weeks of clinical practice — above the national average. Beginning the second year, students complete three eight-week clinical practicums. Elon has contacts at hundreds of patient-care settings and students work frequently with clients and standardized patients on campus. The program culminates with a 24-week internship, generally at select North and South Carolina facilities that have developed clinical and research partnerships with Elon.
The Gerald L. Francis Center, which opened in 2012, was designed incoporating feedback from DPT faculty to ensure the building provides the ideal environment for physical therapy education.
Elon and Alamance Regional Medical Center began a partnership in 1997 when the university launched a master's program in physical therapy. In 2003, Elon debuted the DPT program and today students continue to work with Alamance Regional therapists, many of whom serve as adjunct faculty members.
DPT courses are grounded in basic science, such as anatomy, physiology and biomechanics, along with more advanced study in areas such as differential diagnosis, pharmacology, radiology and imaging. Concepts are reinforced with hands-on applications. For example, in the psychosocial course, students use wheelchairs for two days to experience firsthand how limitations on their movement affect all aspects of their lives.
Learning does not stop once a student’s degree is in hand. In order to stay at the top of their field throughout their careers, Elon students are taught to critically evaluate and discuss scientific literature and review statistical data and experimental procedures. In addition, professors regularly collaborate with students on research. For example, alumnae Shannon Norbet and Lindsay Clark Swift published a research article in the Journal of Neurologic Physical Therapy with Dr. Bill Andrews and Dr. Steve Folger. The article was the first to comprehensively identify the tests and measures most frequently used by clinicians with neurologic or geriatric specialization when working with stroke patients.
One of the best ways to measure a program’s success is to look at its graduates. Ninety-eight percent of Elon DPT alumni find jobs within 6 months of graduation, and 10 percent of students who enroll in the program complete their degree (2012-2014). The total percent of graduates who passed the National Physical Therapy Examination from 2014 to 2015 is 98.2 percent.