Quality Education and the DPT Degree
A comment was recently left on one of the blogs I wrote last summer regarding the DPT reputation and the obligation of the APTA to reduce the costs of the DPT degree.
I left Marquette University with a beautiful DPT degree and a lot of debt. If I compare the amount of money I owe to homes for sale in the Milwaukee area and I could be sitting on a one-acre, three-bedroom home in a lovely suburb, it is a lot of money. Those amounts of money have more weight now that I am a working professional. Given the economy on top of the debt position I am in, it's hard to get ahead. I wish someone had talked with me before I entered the PT program to explain the gravity of the debt I was about to take on. I'm not sure it would have changed my mind about my career path, or if it would have changed anything about my education, but it would have given me more knowledge. And, knowledge is power. Going into a doctorate degree ignorant of the financial consequences is something I regret, and I hope students today understand what they are taking on by enrolling in a PT program.
I met many other recent graduates at the CE course I attended last weekend, and we discussed the differences in our DPT programs. Two of the other students who graduated from different Wisconsin DPT programs had computer-based anatomy courses. The schools, for whatever reason, did not offer a gross anatomy dissection course and instead relied on computer software programs for students to learn human anatomy. Physical therapy students who will later graduate and become the musculoskeletal experts are learning from a computer.
In my opinion, to learn the human body, you have to get your hands in a body and see it firsthand. Chefs don't learn to cook by looking at pictures of food - they learn it by getting their hands on ingredients. Physical therapy education should be the same. If you expect students to leave school with the equivalent of a mortgage, the very least expectation should be a gross anatomy course - filled with cadavers, dissection and seeing the differences in body types. What happens when computer software anatomy courses are substitutes for a gross cadaver-based lab?
Students need to know the quality of education they will receive from a given DPT program. They need to talk to recent graduates, compare different universities and the courses they offer. Ask the average passing rate of the board exam. Ask how many PTs are employed full-time within three months of graduation. Apply to schools who offer the best quality of education, because you could be paying for that education for the next 30 years of your life.
What do you think? Are computer-based anatomy courses acceptable? Where do you draw the line? What happens when one computer-based course becomes two or three computer-based courses? Do you think the APTA should be responsible for the student debt crises of physical therapists?