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Toni Talks about PT Today

The Old Guard

Published March 18, 2010 9:38 AM by Toni Patt
Something occurred to me while I was talking with our student the other day. She is a new grad MSPT working on her DPT.  We were talking just before I left for graduation. It struck me that her CI isn't a DPT but a bachelor level PT. I mean nothing negative by that as her CI graduated only a few years after I did.  That thought has stuck with me. I think it is ironic that bachelor levels PTs are training the new DPTs.

My original degree was a Bachelor of Science degree in physical therapy. I completely agree with the argument that someone who has been practicing that long has learned enough through experience to be qualified to do so. Eventually the MSPTs and PTs will be grandfathered in to allow them to continue to practice.  I have doubts about that because experience is only valuable if it causes continued growth.  But that's a topic for a different day.

I find it curious that PT schools haven't stopped that practice. The whole point of the DPT is the expanded education. If a DPT student has a CI who isn't a DPT, did that student receive adequate training? Most of the instructors at the two Houston-based schools are in the process of or have obtained a DPT. Obviously this is so they can teach DPT students. I'm not trying to nitpick but it strikes me something is wrong with this picture.

Maybe those new grad DPTs don't know that much more than we did when we were new grads. Or, maybe those new grad DPTs don't know enough to be CIs. The ones I've run across have been pretty clueless in treatment situations. It seems those of us who graduated way-back-when still have a valuable asset, no matter what our degree.  We have the knowledge of doing. You just can't teach that in a classroom. Nor can you teach the ability to keep the 10 patients on your caseload straight in your head for note writing.

Lately I've been having more days when I feel old. The DPT may be new but I'm still the same. I might be older but my knowledge is still valuable. I hope PT schools continue to recognize this and continue the current practice. They'll only be hurting their students if they change.


As a current DPT student, with no prior PT education, I feel that perhaps my input on this topic could be of value.

It outrages me to hear "how dare a new DPT be clueless in a treatment session!!" You seem to be forgetting, that just because we have more education, we still need time to hone our skills and become comfortable in the clinic. We have learned that much more than a bachelors PT, and we need time to let it all soak in. We need time to perfect the skills that we have learned. We require time to recognize patterns etc.

 At my school, we take classes for the first 2 years, and have clinical rotations for the third year. I feel that at graduation I will be more than competent as a PT, but part of competence is learning how to ask for help when unsure of how to proceed.

You can't tell me that years ago, PT's with a bachelor degree walked straight out of school into a clinic and never felt "clueless". Or that as a practicing PT, that when you walk out of a CE course, you feel completely comfortable using the treatments that you JUST learned on very difficult patients. These things take time.

And, while on this tangent, I do agree that PT's with bachelors are very useful, I don't agree that they should be CI's for DPT students. THEY DON'T HAVE A DOCTORATE! If understanding the education that we have was important to them, they would.  Being a CI is being a teacher, and if you haven't even taken the classes you're supposed to "teach" me, how can you succeed in that task?

Just some thoughts.

Katy, DPT - Student, LLU May 26, 2010 2:59 PM
Loma Linda CA

You hit the nail on the head, "Experience is only valuable if it causes continued growth". What makes you so sure that the DPTs are going to continue to grow? Is the DPT the pinnacle and we can hang our hats on that? Funny how you question whether it is appropriate for a DPT to be trained by a BSPT but then say that some of the new grad DPTs are clueless in treatment situations.

How very dare a new DPT be clueless in a treatment situation!! After all the arguments about how this degree will elevate us, this just goes to point out that more isn't necessarily better and that clinicians are good or not based upon their own desire to learn and grow. The degree doesn't mean squat!

Oh, and thanks for thinking I still have some valuable asset to offer. Good to know your not putting me out to pasture yet.

Dean Metz March 18, 2010 5:29 PM

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