Predoctoral Training in Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Research

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PROJECT SUMMARY/ABSTRACT Clinical rehabilitations scientists with the formal research training to bring multidisciplinary research approaches to answer important questions related to rehabilitation are scarce. The goal of this pre-doctoral training program is to continue to improve the quality and quantity of individuals who will contribute to the knowledge and evidence that drives best practice in physical rehabilitation. This successful and innovative training program, coordinated through the Department of Physical Therapy, has had 20 years of previous funding. All trainees who have completed the DPT portion of the program have successfully passed the national licensure examination in Physical Therapy on their first attempt and have become licensed to practice physical therapy. All past trainees have become postdoctoral fellows or entered into faculty or research- intensive positions. Those in faculty positions are in some of the most outstanding Physical Therapy programs in the US. Their work has received awards, been published in journals of high quality (highest impact journals in rehabilitation), and been frequently cited. In addition, 6/11 of our trainees who are in faculty positions have been PI or Co-I on NIH funding, with 4 as PIs on active R01 grants. Additionally, our most recent cadre of T32 program graduates have funding from private foundations (e.g., American Heart Association), PCORI, and one is a Fulbright Scholar. These data are a representation of the outstanding scientific impact of our previous trainees. It is also notable that all of the current trainees or those who are in post-doctoral positions have received scholarships and/or external funding, again a testament to the outstanding productivity and quality of work of our trainees. The program fuses two independent training programs: an outstanding entry level Doctorate in Physical Therapy (DPT) and a very successful interdisciplinary PhD program in Biomechanics and Movement Science. The program is analogous to the MD/PhD programs that train medical scientists. By helping to reduce the often sizable debt incurred during the DPT training program, trainees are able to delay the opportunity to earn the salaries that clinicians enjoy and move directly into the PhD program. Students in the program become both physical therapists and rehabilitation research scientists. Trainees are selected from a pool of outstanding students with diverse undergraduate backgrounds who enter the DPT program. Many of these students express an interest in research before admission to the program. This training program attracts the best and brightest individuals with a sincere interest in physical rehabilitation research and tracks them early in their training into research careers. The need is enormous. Both new and established academic physical therapy programs need doctorally trained individuals for teaching and research positions. Graduates of this training program are ideal faculty members who foster excellence in rehabilitation research.
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