Message from the Physical Therapy Program Chairperson

Central Michigan University's Doctor of Physical Therapy curriculum follows a case-oriented educational model that places the multiple dimensions of patient care at the center of instruction. Clinical cases are used throughout the curriculum to focus instruction on situations and cases that arise in physical therapy practice. These cases provide the contextual background for understanding and applying theoretical, scientific and clinical concepts.

Students are challenged throughout the program to think critically, master clinical skills, and engage in reflection on what they are learning. The development of professional behaviors, ethical thought and actions, and professional core values are emphasized across all areas of the program. The faculty and staff are committed to helping students in the program successfully make the transition from the classroom to becoming knowledgeable, competent, ethical, and caring health professionals.

The physical therapy program is housed in two locations. The original location is on the Mt. Pleasant campus of CMU, and the auxiliary location is in Houghton, Michigan, on the campus of Michigan Technological University. Students at both locations are Central Michigan University students and will graduate with the same Doctoral degree from CMU. Instruction is provided simultaneously to both campuses through synchronous interactive technology. All students attend the CMU campus for their first summer session and then disperse between the two locations for the remainder of their didactic education.

On the CMU campus, the physical therapy program is housed in the Health Professions Building. The Health Professions Building contains state-of-the-art technology and outstanding facilities for education, research, and clinical practice, including a dedicated classroom and laboratory for interaction with the Houghton campus. In addition to the dedicated instructional spaces, physical therapy students and faculty have access to the Dell Virtual Reality Laboratory, the Motion Analysis Center, a Human Performance Laboratory, a Physical Therapy Clinic in the Carls Center for Clinical Care and Education, the Fall and Balance Center affiliated with the Bridges Center for Healthy Life Transitions, the Field Neurosciences Institute Laboratories, the Health Innovation and Simulation Laboratory, a Global Telepresence Facility, and a hydrotherapy area with exercise pool.

Students attending the Mt. Pleasant campus may also be involved in our "Hands for Health"pro bono Clinic. Students in the first two years of the physical therapy program work with faculty supervisors to evaluate and treat individuals in need of physical therapy service who are uninsured or underinsured. This unique clinic provides a valuable service to the community as well as an avenue for students to further develop and maintain their clinical skills while they are completing academic coursework.

In Houghton, the CMU physical therapy program is housed in the ATDC Building on the campus of Michigan Technological University. Similar to the Mt. Pleasant campus, the building contains a dedicated classroom and laboratory for interaction with students and faculty on the Mt. Pleasant Campus. In affiliation with the MTU Department of Kinesiology and Integrative Physiology (KIP) students and faculty are working collaboratively to do research in MTU's state-of-the-art research facilities. Research in KIP focuses on the areas of Electrophysiology, Human Neuromechanics, and Integrative Physiology. Collaborations with other MTU departments such as Biomedical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics, Cognitive and Learning Sciences and others are encouraged. Students at the Houghton campus have access to all MTU student amenities, which include the library, fitness/recreation, arts and entertainment facilities.

Another highly-regarded aspect of the CMU physical therapy program is its clinical education program. Unique features of our clinical education model include: integrated clinical experiences during the first 2 years of the curriculum; a full academic year of clinical experiences (two-semester length clinical education experiences) at the conclusion of the didactic curriculum; and the use of a team of clinical coordinators (a Director of Clinical Education and four Regional Clinical Coordinators) to support and extend student learning during the clinical rotation year through the use of face-to-face and virtual discussion groups with fellow student colleagues in defined geographic regions. The CMU PT Program has more than 300 affiliated clinical agencies to support student learning experiences in a variety of practice settings in Michigan, the Midwest, and the United States.

The research component of the CMU physical therapy curriculum provides students with two options for the completion of the doctoral project. One option is to participate in a prospective collaborative research project working with the guidance and supervision of a faculty member. The prospective research project will be connected with the current research agenda of the faculty supervisor. There is a wide array of research expertise and areas of interest among the PT program faculty. The approaches to scientific inquiry employed by the faculty span quantitative, qualitative, and mixed-methods designs. A second research option is to complete a clinical case report working with the guidance and supervision of either the Director of Clinical Education or one of the Regional Coordinators during the final clinical rotation year. Both options require the student to produce a final manuscript in publishable form and to present their project and findings at an annual Research and Case Report Colloquium. Students are encouraged to, and often do, present their papers at state, national, and international meetings.

We continue an exciting period of growth for the Profession of Physical Therapy and for the Graduate Program in Physical Therapy at Central Michigan University. We look forward with anticipation to the challenges of the next year.

If you have questions about what is happening at Central Michigan University or within the profession of Physical Therapy, please feel free to contact me.

Dr. Debbie Silkwood-Sherer, Professor and Chair of the Department of Physical Therapy