Samuel Merritt Responds to Need for More Doctors of Physical Therapy

Appeared in: Oakland Business Review

Since she was ten years old, Amanda Streeton has always known what
she wanted to do in life.

"I wanted to find a career that would fit my personality, a lot
of interaction with people and be a dynamic profession. I really
want to be inspired by my career, in my career and by my patients.
This is what led me to pursue a doctoral degree in physical therapy."

And when it came to picking the right school, Samuel Merritt
College was at the top of her list.

"The physical therapy community is very small and when I would
ask other PT's which school they would recommend, the Doctor of
Physical Therapy (DPT) Program
at Samuel Merritt College was a
name that popped up a lot.

According to a study released last month by the Health Workforce
, the employment demand for advance degree physical
therapists in the state is expected to grow by 29 percent over
the next several years.

That is no surprise to Sharon Gorman, PT, MS, GCS, Assistant
Professor in the Department of Physical Therapy, Samuel Merritt
College. With today's population growing, the need for generalist
physical therapists is great.

"Baby boomers are living longer and there will be a pile of
them coming in the next ten years. We don't have nearly enough
PT's to treat older people today," said Gorman. "We are also
seeing a lot more people with war injuries that we haven't seen
in a while."

Streeton credits the DPT program for preparing her to deal with
the different groups coming in with chronic disorders.

"By my second semester as a first-year student at SMC, under
faculty supervision (at SMC's outpatient free-clinic), I was
working with patients who were suffering from neuromuscular
disorders like arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, even
preemies with cerebral palsy and brain injuries," said Streeton.

"In order to pursue both the academic and clinical doctorate
degrees - to be a practitioner, to do research, to be an educator -
you really have to go through that whole clinical and academic
track to get all three tickets," said Gorman.

The PT program includes two full-time clinical experiences
interspersed between semesters so that classroom learning is
reinforced with clinical experience.

"It really brought everything we study in the classroom into
focus," said Streeton. "We learn about different settings and
patient care techniques. We also develop a closeness with the

Now the third-year student is polishing her resume as she
prepares for her last hurdle of the 34-month course. For the
next six-months, before graduating in May 2008, Streeton and
the other 31 students in the PT program will be interning
full-time at clinics across the country.

"The process of preparing a resume and having the opportunity
to practice interviewing helps build confidence and reduces
stress. These students are better prepared when they do graduate
and look for that first full-time job," said Gorman.

Doctoral physical therapy students have traveled all over the
country to work and practice, from Alta Bates Summit Medical
Center in Oakland, to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles,
to Beth Israel in Boston.

"Samuel Merritt College faculty strives to make sure we get
into a teaching clinic, and we are fortunate because some facilities
in the Bay Area only take students from the College. In terms of
neurology and rehabilitation, institutions know SMC graduates have
the knowledge to handle special needs patients," said Streeton.

The relationship between PT and patients in a culturally diverse
environment and the multiple roles of physical therapists in the
health care system are areas addressed throughout the curriculum.
Students begin the 34 month, full-time program each fall.

For more information on the DPT program, log onto
or call 800-607-6377.

Request more information

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