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DPT Program a 100 Percent Success

May 2012 | by Craig DeVrieze

For future physical therapists, the St. Ambrose Doctor of Physical Therapy program has become the 100 percent solution.

The DPT program long has boasted 100 percent graduation and job placement rates, neither a small matter in today's highly competitive employment market.

Recently, all 28 students in the 2011 DPT cohort passed the National Physical Therapy Examination on their first attempt. It was the second 100-percent first-time pass performance by a St. Ambrose DPT class in three years. And over that three-year period, the St. Ambrose program can boast a 99 percent first-time pass rate, an impressive contrast to a national rate of about 87 percent.

Although 98 percent of all students from the 213 accredited DPT programs in the United States eventually pass the licensing test, St. Ambrose program director Michael Puthoff, PT, PhD, GCS, said providing students the tools to pass on their first attempt is a significant advantage.

For starters, testing fees are $500 or more per try. Secondly, testing was offered only five times this year and next year that number drops to four. Grads who fail a test can't work in their chosen field until they pass the exam.

St. Ambrose DPT graduates, of course, get right to work.

"That is definitely a selling point to prospective students and their families," Puthoff said. "The graduation rate is 100 percent, the placement rate is 100 percent and the pass rate on the licensure test is also 100 percent.

"But we also stress to students that passing the licensure exam is just one achievement. They need to keep working and we really stress that they need to have a lifelong plan for advancing themselves and growing as physical therapists. Their education doesn't end on graduation day or when they pass that test."

Zac Cupples '11 DPT said the testing success proves the value of an SAU education.

"I would say it's the faculty hands down," he said. "They prepared us, probably over-prepared us, for what was on the exam. In reviewing for the test, a lot of it was stuff we'd seen before and it was just a matter of refreshing."

Puthoff believes a key factor in the St. Ambrose DPT program's ongoing success is the quality of its students.

"First of all, we bring in really, intelligent hard-working students," he said. "We have a strong applicant pool to pick from and we put a lot of time and effort into who we select."

Not every DPT program includes student interviews as part of its admissions process. St. Ambrose does. "We're really looking for students who have strong critical thinking skills, who demonstrate good interpersonal skills, who understand the profession and are getting into it for the right reasons," Puthoff said.

That's asking for the kind of 100 percent commitment that gets 100 percent results.


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