Michigan Tech Partners With Central Michigan University to Offer Doctorate in Physical Therapy in the UP

A physical therapist works with a patient.
A physical therapist works with a patient.

Michigan Technological University and Central Michigan University (CMU) are partnering to offer CMU’s doctorate of physical therapy program at Michigan Tech, to help meet a critical need for additional physical therapists in the Upper Peninsula.

“This partnership between CMU and Michigan Tech provides an innovative learning environment for physical therapy,” said Jason Carter, chair of Michigan Tech’s kinesiology and integrative physiology program. “In 2006, Michigan Tech launched its Exercise Science degree, and we now have over 90 undergraduate students enrolled in that degree. A large percentage of those students aspire to pursue a doctorate in physical therapy, but also want to stay in the Upper Peninsula; this new degree program will help them do both.”

Students will take classes at both campuses, taught in an innovative distance-learning format. Clinical education experiences will take place primarily at medical facilities in the Upper Peninsula. Enrollment for the inaugural class will begin in the summer of 2013, with classes starting in June 2014, pending accreditation review by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education.

Support from community partners includes a matching gift of $125,000 from the Upper Peninsula Health Care Network and $25,000 from four UP hospitals – War Memorial, Portage Health, Aspirus-Keweenaw and Dickinson County Healthcare System.

“Physical Therapy is an integral component of the overall healthcare delivery system,” said Jim Bogan, president and CEO of Portage Health, the first local hospital to financially support the creation of the doctorate in physical therapy program.  “This collaboration between educational and healthcare institutions will not only provide practical, experiential education, but will also foster the institutional networking that is vital to our ability to recruit and retain well-trained allied health professionals.”

Chuck Nelson, CEO of Aspirus Keweenaw, noted:  “By combining resources of leading educational and health care institutions, we are implementing a program together that independently. Aspirus is proud to be a part of this collaborative effort that advances physical therapy skill sets in the Upper Peninsula. We look forward to the development and growth of the doctoral  program at Michigan Tech and CMU.”

The lectures and laboratory experiences will be presented on CMU’s campus by CMU faculty and transmitted live to Michigan Tech through interactive distance-learning technology. CMU faculty will be onsite at Michigan Tech to coordinate clinical programs and supervise physical therapy labs.

“This partnership is a great opportunity to combine the strengths of two universities to help meet the health care needs of the state of Michigan and the Upper Peninsula in particular,” said Christopher D. Ingersol, dean of CMU’s The Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow College of Health Professions. “This is a chance to partner with another outstanding university whose strengths in research complement our strong clinical programs.”

“This program represents an innovative and cost-effective way for each university to extend its activities by sharing facilities, faculty, and staff talent and students,” said Bruce Seely, dean of Michigan Tech’s College of Sciences and Arts.

The two universities have been working on the collaborative degree over the past two years. Carter cited Herm Triezenberg, Central’s chairperson of the School of Rehabilitation and Medical Sciences, as being instrumental to their progress.

Central Michigan University established its master of science in physical therapy program in 1994. It made the transition to the doctor of physical therapy degree in 2004.

For more information from CMU, contact Kathy Backus, 989-774-1702, backu1k@cmich.edu

For additional information from Michigan Tech, contact Jason Carter, jcarter@mtu.edu, 906-487-2994.

Michigan Technological University is a public research university, home to more than 7,000 students from 54 countries. Founded in 1885, the University offers more than 120 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science and technology, engineering, forestry, business and economics, health professions, humanities, mathematics, and social sciences. Our campus in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula overlooks the Keweenaw Waterway and is just a few miles from Lake Superior.