The Graduate College

Winter 2010

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Program Notes
Mark Cornwall, PhD

The Doctor of Physical Therapy Program

Bernadette Ybarra and Shawn Cole (right), 3rd-year DPT students
For the last five years, NAU's physical therapy program has been ranked
in the top 10 percent of all physical therapy programs in the country by
U.S. News and World Report.

The physical therapy program has been an integral part of NAU since 1978. It was originally offered as a bachelor’s degree. Since then, like the majority of the programs throughout the United States, the curriculum has evolved to that of a clinical doctoral degree. The current program is fully accredited by the Commission for Accreditation of Physical Therapy Education and is 33 months in length. It includes foundational sciences, clinical sciences, and clinical fieldwork that reflect the current state of the art and science of the physical therapy profession.

Bernadette Ybarra (left) and Holly Goodman, 3rd-year DPT students

The primary vision of the DPT program at NAU is to develop physical therapy practitioners who are professional leaders in the autonomous delivery of quality health care and to ensure that students have the knowledge and skills to be become “engaged professionals” capable of addressing both the current as well as unknown future challenges.

The physical therapy program at NAU has enjoyed national recognition by being ranked in the top 10 percent of all physical therapy programs in the country by U.S. News and World Report since 2004. This recognition is a direct result of two things:

  1. Our ability to recruit exceptional students from across the country who share the same enthusiasm and commitment to excellence as our faculty has allowed us to meet the program’s extremely lofty goals.
  2.  
  3. We are blessed with a faculty that is nationally and internationally recognized for excellence in education, clinical research, and professional practice. The faculty serve as exceptional role models for our students, reinforcing the vision and focus of the curriculum.

The end result is alumni that serve as our program’s most vocal and passionate ambassadors, many of whom have become state and national leaders in the profession.

Bernadette Ybarra (left) and Kate Watkins, 3rd-year DPT students

Like all programs involved in the education of future healthcare professionals, our curriculum involves much more than simply teaching clinical science and psychomotor skills. The physical therapy program at NAU embraces the seven core values of professionalism identified by the American Physical Therapy Association. These include accountability, altruism, compassion / caring, excellence, integrity, professional duty, and social responsibility.

Our faculty believes that our students’ involvement in community-based activities, such as raising funds for those with neurologic disease, and their willingness to advocate at both the state and national level for individuals that would benefit from physical therapy services illustrates their comprehension and commitment to these core values.


—Mark Cornwall, Professor and Chair, Department of Physical Therapy and Athletic Training, College of Health and Human Services