Cal State University Long Beach has introduced two new doctorate programs for health professionals. The new doctor of physical therapy and doctor of nursing practice programs are open to graduate students in the health sciences.
Introduced this summer, the doctor of physical therapy (DPT) program was prompted by a change in the physical therapy profession. CSU Long Beach’s Physical Therapy Department previously offered a master’s degree in physical therapy; however, beginning in 2015, new physical therapists must hold a doctorate degree from an accredited university in order to sit for the boards and practice as a licensed therapist.
The first class of DPT students entered CSULB in June and will graduate in 2015; the three-year curriculum of coursework and clinics is designed to qualify students to pass the National Physical Therapy Examination and to practice as licensed physical therapists.
“The California Employment Development Department expects a 35.6 percent increase in need for [physical therapists] from 2010 to 2020 in Los Angeles County,” said CSULB Physical Therapy Department Chair Kay Cerny. “Offering the entry-level DPT degree allows CSULB to continue graduating well prepared practitioners in physical therapy who can assume increased responsibilities for patient care in more autonomous practice settings and meet the growing need for physical therapists in California.”
The department collaborates with the local community to provide students with authentic real-world clinical experiences. Students are required to complete two six-week summer affiliations, a 24-week internship, and a doctoral research project.
The new doctorate of nursing practice (DNP) program will kick off with the start of fall semester. The consortium model joint degree is a program offered through the nursing schools at CSU Los Angeles, CSU Long Beach, and CSU Fullerton. The program is designed to make a doctoral degree more affordable to nurses with master’s degrees.
Lucy Huckabay, director of CSULB’s School of Nursing, said that she expects the program to best serve two specific areas. “DNP education enables the nurses to advance their clinical expertise in the application of evidence-based practice to improve patient care in a specialized field of practice. They can conduct applied research that has an immediate, direct, positive impact on patient care.”
“Additionally, the DNP-prepared nurses will qualify to assume nursing faculty positions in schools of nursing. All across California and the nation, one of the primary reasons for turning away qualified applicants to nursing schools is the lack of qualified nursing faculty. DNP prepared nurses can fill the faculty shortage gap.”
The curriculum was developed using input and assistance from faculty from all three campuses, who will also be involved in teaching courses and assisting students in completing doctoral projects. CSU Fullerton is designated as the administrative enrollment campus for the program, which is comprised of 36 units over five semesters.
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