Competitive physical therapy program leads to jobs

Seton Hall’s Physical Therapy (PT) program and the field have grown exponentially. The recent surge in job opportunities and field success has added to the competitiveness in college admissions.

Seton Hall graduates consistently pass the National Physical Therapist Examination. The two year pass rates from 2013-2017 are 100 percent, according to the Physical Therapy’s program overview.

Seton Hall’s Doctor of Physical Therapy Program was ranked 79th by U.S. News and World Report.
Greg Medina/Photography Editor

Furthermore, according to the department’s overview, the two-year graduation rates for years 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 are 95.2 percent and 92.3 percent, respectively.

In July 2017, a NJ.com article sponsored by the Ivy Rehab Network, a physical therapy provider, was published detailing the recent success and expected growth in the physical therapy field.

“Physical therapists are most likely among those who are not searching for a job these days,” the NJ.com article said. “In fact, ‘physical therapist’ is near the top of virtually every ‘fastest growing jobs’ list. This strong demand is a direct result of how fast the field is moving and the increasing reliance on physical therapy/occupational therapy treatment.”

Physical therapy department chair Dr. Doreen Stiskal wrote in an email that prospective job opportunities for those in the field remain secure and promising.

“The current job outlook remains very strong even as health care delivery models change. Recent alumni are able to seek job opportunities in the areas of practice that they wish to enter,” Stiskal said. “As examples, alumni are working in out-patient orthopedic centers, large hospital systems, home health agencies, pediatric hospitals and school-based settings, and rehabilitation centers.”

Seton Hall’s Doctor of Physical Therapy Program may be relatively new, having launched in 2005, but the 13 year-old program is ranked by No. 79 out of the 236 accredited programs in the United States by U.S. News and World Report.

Across the country and at Seton Hall, competition for a spot in a physical therapy program is high. According to Stiskal, for the last two years the University has received annually about 500-700 applicants for about 9-20 open seats.

“I believe that our program is very competitive and offers quality learning experiences that allow students to practice in diverse environments,” Stiskal said.

Carly Galanaugh, sophomore biology and physical therapy major has experienced the PT program at Seton Hall that is both academically intense, yet interpersonally supportive.

“My experience in the physical therapy program thus far has been challenging, but rewarding,” Galanaugh said. “Although this program comes with a heavy workload, I have had professors and advisors who have been more than happy to assist me in any way needed. In addition to this, although it is only my second year of the program, I feel as though I have learned so much in such a short time, which will undoubtedly be beneficial upon reaching the graduate phase.”

Galanaugh said one reason for attending Seton Hall was the fact that the University is the only one in the state of New Jersey that offers a six year bachelor of science in biology and doctor of physical therapy dual degree.

Mia Lombardi, a sophomore biology and physical therapy major, wrote in an email that although the program is rigorous, the classes are fascinating and worthwhile.

“I have enjoyed my experience in the program so far,” Lombardi said. “It does require a lot of work and may seem intense at times, but in the end I know it will be worth it and rewarding.”

Additionally, Lombardi mentioned the program’s resourcefulness in regards to favorable job opportunities and her volunteer experiences.
“I am informed about potential job opportunities after graduation. These job opportunities do have potential and are promising as there is a growing need for physical therapists,” Lombardi said. “Even though I have yet to intern anywhere, I have volunteered at both an outpatient and a pediatric facility to gain experience in the field.”

Marisa Harding, a senior and first-year graduate student in the PT program, lauded the program in an email for its tremendous support amidst the challenging course load.

“It is extremely hands on, which I think helps me learn the material better,” Harding said. “We have great professors who have worked in the physical therapy field for many years that offer such great advice and have been so supportive of us during our time in this program.”

With an ever-changing world, the PT program has adjusted and implemented a new curriculum that began last July, according to Stiskal. Stiskal said the new three year program cut out a fourth year of study and adjusted content for better student comprehension.

“The state practice acts have also changed and allow for direct access (where individuals can come to see the physical therapist prior to seeing the physician),” Stiskal said. “This shift calls for the PT student to be able to make critical decisions about the care they provide.”

Stiskal added that the program is led by a spirited, dependable faculty.

“As you can see, this is a very dynamic program led by a group of faculty who are passionate about their field and the students who are best positioned to enter it,” Stiskal said.

Thomas Schwartz can be reached at thomas.schwartz@student.shu.edu.

Author: Thomas Schwartz

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