University physical therapy programs are increasingly competitiveThe demand for physical therapy continues to grow, as well as the number of students who want to study it.
By: Maureen McCollum, Wisconsin Public Radio, Superior Telegram
The demand for physical therapy continues to grow, as well as the number of students who want to study it.
But there are limits on how many students universities can take.
Students graduating with Doctor of Physical Therapy degrees are practically guaranteed a job once they graduate. Michele Thorman is the Physical Therapy Program director at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, which recently received approval to independently offer a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree. She says the need for treatment is growing.
“Some of that’s related to the fact that as aging baby boomers get older, they want to stay fit, [or] they have other problems that are going to be requiring the services of physical therapists,” says Thorman.
But the number of physical therapy doctoral students Wisconsin universities can accept is limited. Each year, schools are receiving applications in the hundreds, but can only admit 20 to 65 students. University officials say they can’t expand because they don't have the money, space, or enough qualified faculty.
Marquette University Department of Physical Therapy Program Coordinator Diane Slaughter says internship opportunities are also limited. “If you called Gundersen Lutheran hospital, they’re probably taking La Crosse students and they’re probably taking Marquette, and they’re probably taking others – they don’t have enough space to take more students.”
UW-Madison’s Doctor of Physical Therapy Program Director Lisa Steinkamp says the openings and demand are in Wisconsin’s rural areas and they’re trying to push students into those regions.