therapy master's program is right on track
last steps in establishing an accredited master's degree program
in physical therapy at CSUS were reached at the end of the semester,
in plenty of time for first graduates to pick up diplomas this December.
A combination of new hires in the department and progress toward
doctoral degree by current faculty led to a "yes" vote
for full accreditation without conditions from the Commission on
Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education.
"We've got a clean slate and are in full compliance,"
says program director Susan McGinty. "Initial accreditation
of the master's program was granted in spring 2001, however, the
Commission required a series of progress reports. The most recent
called for a review of faculty, which showed the department now
has eight full-time faculty members.
"The issue was the number of doctorally prepared faculty,"
McGinty says. "That was the critical piece in the last report.
We needed to show we'd made the new hires. And we added two outstanding
faculty members this fall."
One of the new faculty members, Rafael Escamilla, has a doctorate
in biomechanics and recently became a physical therapist. He has
a strong research record in biomechanics and strength and conditioning
which he will apply to the discipline of physical therapy. The other,
Brad Stockert, has a doctorate in physiology and comes to CSUS after
15 years at University of the Pacific. McGinty says he is a respected
physical therapy educator with research in the area of balance in
A third new faculty member, Jancis Dennis, joined the faculty last
year and is serving as co-director of the CSUS Life Center. She
has a doctorate in education, specifically distance education, and
is expected to apply her computer expertise to open possibilities
for post-professional training.
Of the rest, McGinty completed her doctorate, another completed
her dissertation, another is "ABD" and two others are
fully engaged in the process.
"The addition of faculty who already had doctorates was a huge
factor in the approval. They came with established research and
recognized records of academic achievement," McGinty says.
"It raises the program to a level of respect and recognition
as a player in the field. With their research, and the work of the
current faculty, we can become a significant contributor in the
field. It allows us to move forward in the area of evidence-based
More and more, physical therapists are expected to demonstrate the
efficacies and the scientific basis of physical therapy. While therapists
know it works and have lots of anecdotal evidence, McGinty says,
it's not hard science in the area of controlled studies the medical
The physical therapy program at CSUS has only been in operation
since 1995. It began as a baccalaureate program and the decision
to move to a master's level only program was made in the late 90s
following a national trend. As of December 2002, there is no longer
a committee that accredits baccalaureate physical therapy programs.
The master's degree program is a two and a half year program that
includes two summers of clinical work. At this point, it has two
classes of students - one group of 20 second-year students and a
first-year class of 28. Applications for a third class are now being
All students have completed a bachelor's degree, many in the kinesiology
and pre-PT programs at CSUS. The classes are almost equally balanced
among men and women with many from historically underrepresented
groups. This is different from the national norm where 90 percent
of physical therapists are Caucasian and 75 percent are female.
"The fact that we have equal parts male and female and a significant
number of underrepresented students shows we're meeting a mission
to serve this state," McGinty says.
And those students should face a bright future. The market for physical
therapists is "outstanding," McGinty says. She expects
it to stay strong as the Baby Boomers age and seek out services.