Dr. Kathye Light, chair of Brenau’s department of physical therapy
Dr. Kathye Light, chair of Brenau’s department of physical therapy

Now Accepting Applications for Doctor of Physical Therapy Degree

Sep. 4, 2014
David Morrison

Prospects Get a Peek at the Program in ‘Open House’ Series Starting September 16

Brenau University is now accepting applications for its Doctor of Physical Therapy program – the third health care professional doctorate offered by the university. Classes could begin as early as mid-2015, pending authorization by the Alexandria, Virginia-based Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education.

Although the new program received several applicants before the university formally announced its availability, the university plans a series of open houses over the next several months for prospects.

“The Doctor of Physical Therapy program will be part of the university’s focus on interdisciplinary education for students in the health sciences,” said Dr. Kathye Light, chair of the new physical therapy department at the university. “We hope to graduate our first doctors of physical therapy in three years’ time and win full accreditation for the program.”

Brenau bestowed its first earned doctoral degrees during May commencement exercises when five candidates for the clinical Doctor of Nursing Practice received their diplomas. The seven candidates for Brenau’s new Occupational Therapy Doctorate started classes in the fall term and were scheduled to be introduced to faculty, staff, university administrators and clinical partners at a reception on Friday, Sept. 5.

The clinical doctorate in physical therapy, the two other doctoral programs and the master’s degree programs in disciplines like applied gerontology, clinical psychology and health care management stand as leaders in health care professional preparation among higher education institutions in the Southeast.

The Brenau physical therapy program already has won approval by the Southern Associations of Colleges and Universities Commission on Colleges. Although CAPTE authorized Brenau to begin student recruitment and enrollment, its accreditation process varies significantly from that of SACSCOC. Once the first student class graduates after the three-year, nine-semester curriculum and its members achieve a 90 percent pass rate on the Georgia State Board of Physical Therapy licensure exam, the Brenau department becomes eligible for the full CAPTE accreditation.

Currently, the new Brenau department is under review by CAPTE. It hopes to have its application for candidacy approved this November. Once that happens, up to 40 selected applicants may be admitted.

“We think there will be a huge demand for this program,” said Nathan Goss, assistant vice president for recruitment at Brenau. “We have already received eight applications, mostly stemming from just word-of-mouth, and this is without us formerly announcing the fact that we have been authorized to process applications.”

As founding chair of the new physical therapy department, Light has been working with academic coordinator Dr. Mary Thigpen to build the new program from the ground up. That includes developing collaboration with health care entities such as the Northeast Georgia Medical Center to give students more hands-on training opportunities.

Dr. Mary Thigpen, left, works with professionals like Dr. Daniel Maddox and Paige Wilson at ProTherapy in Dunwoody, Georgia, in developing sufficient locations to give doctoral students all the practical experience they can get while completing their degrees.

Dr. Mary Thigpen, left, works with professionals like Dr. Daniel Maddox and Paige Wilson at ProTherapy in Dunwoody, Georgia, in developing sufficient locations to give doctoral students all the practical experience they can get while completing their degrees.

To make ready, Light and her faculty moved this summer into the Brenau Downtown Center in Gainesville, newly renovated with offices, classrooms, laboratories and other features for the home of the physical therapy program. Build-out is in progress for a new human anatomy lab, with 10 examination stations, that can be used by physical therapy and other health science students. The Downtown Center also has space to accommodate a physical therapy clinic that can be used to give doctoral candidates under supervision of licensed faculty opportunities to work directly with patients.

To qualify for Brenau’s DPT program, according to published standards, candidates must score at least 1000 on the Graduate record Examination. They must also have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university with a minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.0 in all of their college course work, including the prerequisite courses chemistry, physics, psychology, statistics and biology.

However, Light said that because admission into physical therapy schools is very competitive, the applicants’ grade point averages in reality probably will have to be much higher for them to win admission to the Brenau program.

Light and her staff will host monthly “open house” programs for prospective doctoral candidates starting on Tuesday, Sept. 16, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the department headquarters in Gainesville, and on the third Tuesday of each month, except December, through May 2015. During these events, prospective students will have the opportunity to tour the brand new physical therapy department, meet faculty members, learn more about the philosophy of the program and its curriculum, and review admissions procedures and program requirements. To register, go to the physical therapy calendar.

For more information on requirements needed for the program, visit https://www.brenau.edu/healthsciences/physicaltherapy/dpt-adm-reqs/.

To apply, go to www.brenau.edu/apply or contact admissions specialist Beth Collins at 770-534-6102 or  bcollins1@brenau.edu.

General inquiries: info@brenau.edu, (770) 534-6299 or (800) 252-5119 | Admissions: admissions@brenau.edu, (770) 534-6100 or (800) 252-5119 ext. 6100