Re-accredited

UWL physical therapy students teach an exercise class at Summit Elementary in La Crosse. Community service and research activities that involve more than 500 people each year are just one of the reasons the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE) granted the Clinical Doctoral Program in Physical Therapy the maximum 10 years of accreditation.

Physical therapy program earns stamp of approval

The University of Wisconsin-La Crosse Clinical Doctoral Program in Physical Therapy has been granted the maximum 10 years of accreditation.

The Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE) granted the program full accreditation in December following a comprehensive self-study and onsite visit in spring 2018.

“Accreditation is important because it ensures the educational quality that our students receive,” says Professor Tom Kernozek, chair of the Department of Health Professions and faculty member in the Physical Therapy Program. Graduation from a CAPTE-accredited program is required to sit for the licensing exam and to provide physical therapy services.

Highlights of UWL’s program includes a comprehensive curriculum and a pass rate of 100 percent on board exam in the past five years, along with clinical and service opportunities that engage students and faculty in research and the community. “Community service and research activities annually involve more than 500 individuals from the La Crosse region,” Kernozek notes.

UWL’s Physical Therapy program maintains its national reputation and attracts many students to the campus, says Kernozek. The Journal of Orthopedic and Sports Physical Therapy, one of the main professional PT research journals, originated at UWL, with early manuscripts sent to an address at Cowley Hall.

UWL students work with Parkinson’s patients during their physical therapy coursework. Clinical and service opportunities that engage students and faculty in research and the community was a key for re-accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education.

Kernozek says UWL places all of its physical therapy graduates in less than two months, with many having committed offers at graduation. While graduates can gain licensure anywhere in the U.S., around 80 percent of graduates stay in Wisconsin or neighboring states.

Each spring, Health Professions Department programs host an employer fair that allows physical therapy and occupational therapy students to directly engage with more than two dozen employers nationwide and participate in mock interviews. Proceeds from the event allow students to participate in professional conferences and development activities.

This is the second time that UWL has received maximum 10-year accreditation since first awarding the clinical doctorate in 2008. The UWL Physical Therapy program began in 1975 at the bachelor’s degree level. Currently, the program takes 30 months with classes of 45 students per cohort with their final year completed off-campus on three, 12-week clinical rotations within the various areas of physical therapy practice.

Over the past few years, many of the Health Profession Departments graduate programs — Physician Assistant, Occupational and Physical Therapy — have received the maximum duration by their respective accreditation agencies. Earlier in 2018, radiation therapy, the department’s undergraduate program, received a 10-year duration from its accrediting agency.

Three physical therapy programs are accredited in the UW System — UWL, UW-Madison and UW-Milwaukee. Three state private universities also have accredited programs: Concordia, Carroll College and Marquette.