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The University of Wisconsin Physical Therapy Consortium
The DPT Degree - Frequently Asked Questions

Why the DPT and why now?

The body of knowledge associated with Physical Therapy has significantly expanded and continues to grow as PT becomes a doctoring profession. The tenants of Vision 2020 require that new graduates be prepared to utilize knowledge and skills related to differential diagnosis, pharmacology, medical imaging and apply evidence in their clinical decision making. More time is needed in clinical internships to be proficient in this more complex practice culture when the students graduate. Historically, the credits and time used in MSPT programs have greatly exceeded most master degree program expectations. The DPT degree recognizes all the classroom and clinical education preparation needed to educate an entry level physical therapy professional for them to meet contemporary practice expectations.

Can a student still get a MSPT degree?

UW-L and UW-M will only offer the DPT degree for entry level students. The last MSPT class from UW-L will graduate in December, 2006. Most PT Programs throughout the country have either converted to the DPT degree or are in the process of doing so. Currently all Wisconsin PT Programs offer the DPT, except UW-Madison who is seeking approval to do so at this time.

How long is the UW DPT Program curriculum?

After students obtain an undergraduate degree (BS) they study 34 months to receive a DPT degree. The final 10 months of the DPT curriculum are spent in clinical internships.

Won't prospective students seek other degrees/ professions when it takes longer to become a PT?

Recent admission trends reveal that students are selecting physical therapy as a profession and the DPT degree in increasing numbers. It is predicted that based on consumer choices and favorable market forces, this trend will likely continue.

How has the curriculum changed in the conversion from the MSPT to the DPT degree?

Additional didactic coursework has been included to address differential diagnosis, pharmacology, medical imaging, evidence based practice and clinical decision making. More time has been dedicated to clinical education and courses completed on line during internships. Clinical education courses now represent approximately 50% of the time students invest in their PT education.

Does the DPT diminish my own BS or MSPT degree as an experienced clinician?

Absolutely not. The DPT remains an entry level degree. It does not take into account your years of clinical practice and the expertise you have continued to develop since graduating. DPT students are depending on your mentoring regardless of your degree.

How can experienced PT professionals obtain a transitional DPT Degree?

Some skills and content being taught today were not part of most BS and MSPT degrees awarded years ago. The transitional DPT degree provides degree parity with the entry level DPT degree. A variety of programs exist for an experienced PT professional to obtain a DPT. Programs range from all on line to all on site or combinations of both. Please refer to APTA’s website for more information.

Does the the University of Wisconsin Physical Therapy Consortium offer a transitional DPT degree?

Yes! UW-Milwaukee, under the direction of Kathryn Zalewski, PT, PhD currently offers a transitional DPT degree. The curriculum is designed for learning to take place both on line and on site.

For more information, please consult:
Physical Therapy Program, Pavilion 350
University of Wisconsin Milwaukee
P.O. Box 413
Milwaukee, WI 53201-0413
Phone: 414/229-3360
Fax: 414/229-3366

Clinical Education and the DPT

Will clinical instructors be required to have a DPT to supervise DPT students?

No, your current degree and clinical expertise are sufficient to supervise an entry level DPT student. Accreditation standards do however require that PT Programs demonstrate evidence of the quality of clinical education sites including the credentials of clinical instructors. Such credentials may include APTA CI Credentialing, board certification, transitional DPT, other certifications or evidence of life long learning.

How are internships organized in the DPT curriculum?

All students complete 5 internships beginning in the second semester of the curriculum. The first internship is a two week experience to practice basic skills such as patient interviewing, muscle testing, documentation, etc. The second experience occurs at the end of the first year and lasts 4 weeks. Emphasis Is on rural/ primary care hospitals, home health, SNF, subacute settings. The program concludes with 3 twelve weeks internships – inpatient rehab or acute care, outpatient general orthopedics and a niche setting of the student’s choice (rural medicine, peds, sports, schools, research) which models the values characterized by autonomous practitioners.