First Doctoral Students Graduate from Department of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Science

The UCSF School of Medicine's Department of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Science will graduate its first doctoral students in physical therapy during a ceremony today. The department offers three graduate education programs (MS, DPT and DPTSc) as a team effort with San Francisco State University (SFSU). The joint UCSF/SFSU Graduate Program began preparing physical therapy professionals at the master's level in l989. The DPTSc program was initiated in 2001 to meet the faculty shortage in physical therapy education. This three- to five-year program of post professional education enables experienced physical therapy clinicians to develop their skills as educators, translational scientists or clinical researchers. The program's first graduate, Meredith Edwards, is completing her research study on the effects of pacilitaxel (Taxol) and docetaxe (Taxotere) on sensory neuropathies associated with the treatment of breast cancer, according to Nancy Byl, PhD, PT, FAPTA, clinical chair of the department. "Her focus is on the objective measurement of peripheral neuropathy, pain and balance," Byl says. "This research was funded by the California Breast Cancer Research Project. Meredith has accepted a faculty position at SFSU beginning in the fall 2005." The Doctorate of Physical Therapy (DPT) program was initiated in 2004. This program is designed as an extension of the master's degree to prepare leaders in physical therapy who not only demonstrate strong critical thinking and clinical reasoning skills, but are prepared to apply evidence to practice and collaborate in clinical research. These graduates are prepared to practice as part of a team in the hospital or the outpatient setting as well as practice independently in a direct access environment. Many of these graduates also will seek specialty certification with the American Physical Therapy Association. The UCSF campus offers the only academic programs in physical therapy in the University of California. There are five academic programs in physical therapy in the California State University System. At this time, UCSF/SFSU offers the only doctoral programs in physical therapy in the public university system in the state. UCSF is also preparing a proposal to offer the DPT jointly with California State University Fresno, UCSF's sister medical campus in Fresno. "Sharing resources to create efficient and effective graduate academic programs of excellence is critical considering the costs of health professional education," Byl says. Byl credits the students, faculty and leaders in the Graduate Division, the School of Medicine, the College of Health and Human Services, the Chancellor's Office and the UC Office of the President for their hard work not only to make these new academic programs possible, but successful.