Students analyze the posture of a classmate during a Doctorate of Physical Therapy lab class on Wednesday, May 25, 2016, in Gainesville, Ga. (AJ Reynolds/Brenau University)
Physical therapy doctoral degree candidates participate in a May 25 lab class at the Brenau Downtown Center.

Second Wave of Physical Therapy Doctoral Degree Candidates Begin Classes

June 2, 2016

The 40 Doctor of Physical Therapy candidates who initiated studies May 16 for Brenau University’s two-year-old program came from a nationwide pool of about 750 applicants, which 2015 data supplied by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education indicates is about 300 applicants deeper than the national average for colleges and universities that offer similar programs.

In the doctoral program, the first-year candidates take core courses, including functional anatomy and kinesiology, human physiology, a basic clinical skills and professional issues course. They are also introduced to Brenau’s new human anatomy lab, which is based along with the Department of Physical Therapy at the Brenau Downtown Center just off the town square in Gainesville.

“I like the fact it was a brand new facility,” said 25-year-old Travis Keppel, who moved from Los Angeles to enroll in the Brenau program. “When I got here, everyone was super friendly and I had a few really down-to-earth conversations with some of the professors. It just seemed like a good match.”

Lauren Brooke Herkel, 22, from Thomson, Georgia, said the program’s emphasis on early clinical experiences was a huge factor in her decision to apply.

“Within the second semester, they are putting us out in the field and getting us used to working in health care,” Herkel said. “It really sets the base for our skills.”

The three-year Brenau program enrolled its first “freshman” class in May 2015. However, this year’s class netted a wider array of candidates: They are from 11 states, with an average age of 24 and a cumulative grade point average of 3.5 on the 4.0 scale. The 2016 cohort is is about 60 percent female and 25 percent minority students.

One of the opportunities for clinical experience is in the same building. The Brenau Rehabilitative Practice, a public clinic administered by Gainesville Physical Therapy, specializes in balance, fall prevention, bariatrics, sports medicine and treatment of developmental, orthopedic and neurological movement dysfunctions. There students work directly with patients under supervision of faculty and licensed staff of GPT, which has operated its main practice successfully in Northeast Georgia for more than two decades.

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