A physical therapist who has been offered a job as a graduate student at Arizona State University can attest to the challenges that come with being a doctoral student.
“Being a PhD student means you have to be incredibly confident,” says graduate student Jennifer C. Stemmer.
“There are a lot of expectations on what you can achieve.
You have to make sure that you’re always doing things to make the student feel valued and to help them be more productive.”
A graduate student with no job lined up at the end of the year after receiving a Ph.
D. degree at ASU has the same problem.
“We have this whole thing about, ‘I’m going to go and do this,’ and we have to think, ‘What are the outcomes we want to see?
How will I make a difference?'” says Stemmers.
“And I’ve found that the outcomes are not very good.”
It’s a concern shared by other physical therapists, who say the work they do is often overshadowed by the expectations of graduate students.
“It is incredibly important that we have a strong foundation of science and education, and it’s a very, very high bar to be successful,” says Cate Johnson, a professor of physical therapy and co-founder of the Arizona Physical Therapy Association (APTA).
“You need to have a solid foundation of academic research and training, as well as clinical experience.
It’s also really important that you understand how to make your own way through that.”
APTA’s board recently approved a proposal that would allow graduate students to become faculty members.
However, some of the APTA board members say they do not think the current graduate program is ideal for physical therapists.
“When you have students that are not in the field, you’re really only serving the students who are in the industry, and so you’re creating a climate where there are only so many physical therapists that are going to be available to the general public,” says APTA President and CEO Scott McEwan.
“I think that the best way to help is to get out and find students, because then you have more students coming into the profession that are ready to learn and have the confidence to get into physical therapy.”
“That’s really the bottom line: If you have a doctorate, then you should be able to teach physical therapy,” she says.
“You should be teaching, not just working.”
It takes a long time to get the job offer out of the way.
At ASU, the first step is to submit an application.
Next comes a review of the application, including a discussion with the director of the school’s Department of Education.
If the applicant has a PhD in physical therapy, the application will be reviewed by the Department of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation (DPTR), which has a long history of hiring doctoral candidates.
“They are very interested in graduate students,” says DPTR Director Brian E. Davis.
“If the candidate is a doctoral candidate, they are more inclined to accept it.”
Once the applicant is confirmed as a DPTR student, a graduate assistant or student coordinator will be in charge of the physical therapy internship.
“In the beginning, it’s just a few weeks, and then you’re going to have to go through a process where you’re being trained,” says McEwen.
“Then you’re working with other students and they’re working on different types of tasks, and that’s what makes it a very rigorous process.
It is a challenging environment.
The students need to understand how it is to work in physical therapist, so that they can be comfortable with it.”
The physical therapist internship will be for four to six weeks, during which the physical therapist will work with clients on various tasks and receive weekly visits from the physical therapists supervisor.
The physical therapy internship will provide the physical trainer with an opportunity to work with the students in their own environment and interact with them in a more meaningful way, while also continuing to help with student research.
“This internship gives us the opportunity to see how the students are doing, how they’re responding, how the physical trainers are responding,” says Ewan.
The internship will pay $15 per week, with the student coordinator earning $8 per week and the physical tester earning $4 per week.
The APTA Board of Directors will meet to discuss the physical rehabilitation internship during the summer.
“The physical therapy students really are the future of our profession,” says Davis.
As a graduate, the physical worker will continue to be a part of the student’s physical therapy curriculum.
The graduate student will continue her work as a physical therapist at ASVU, while continuing to serve as an advocate for physical therapy.
As students graduate from ASU and start working full time, they will be eligible for an internship in their field.
As part of their internship, the student will be responsible for developing a physical therapy resume.
This resume will be available