The Value of a Post-Professional DPT Degree
In the past few years, have you noticed a roller coaster ride of changes to the practice of physical therapy? Just as we come to a smooth spot along the way, we are thrust into another topsy-turvy situation. You are not alone!
As a profession, we have been challenged to effectively respond to emerging medical crises and increasing demands for better patient outcomes in shorter time frames. At the same time, advances in technology, such as wearable sensors and virtual reality, have found their place in rehabilitation. These advances are game changers in achieving better patient outcomes than we ever imagined possible. The silver lining in all of this for the PT profession is that we have learned the future of PT practice is squarely upon us. To stay relevant and effective we cannot keep doing what we have always done.
With that in mind, there is no better time to ask ourselves,
“What can I do to prepare for current and future practice?”
Preparing for success in this uncertain and competitive healthcare environment requires us to change our approach to practice. Relying on what we already know and making care decisions largely around what has always worked does create a lovely comfort zone and is the basis by which we consider ourselves "experts". But with healthcare and technology moving at the speed of light nowadays, this is the very mindset that very quickly makes us obsolete.
This is why many practicing PTs pursue post-professional DPT (TDPT) education. TDPT programs prepare PTs for contemporary practice by augmenting current knowledge and skills with the ability to utilize clinical reasoning and evidence in practice. This enables them to make best care decisions. This doctoral-level training fosters:
- Advanced practice skills
- Improved patient outcomes
- Opportunities in management and academia
Developing Advanced Practice Skills
When faced with new or increasingly complex patients or populations, how do you determine the most effective approach to care? We know for certain that our patients cannot give us those answers! Of course, we start by tapping into our practice knowledge and experience. We may, however, learn that relying on what we currently know is not adequate to solve new problems. So, where do we find answers? Developing an evidence-based approach to care, which integrates current scientific evidence with clinical reasoning skills, is where we find those answers.
Improved Patient Outcomes
Much of what we have done in the past has worked for many of our patients. However, have you asked yourself if you could have delivered better outcomes in shorter timeframes? The pressures of insurance-influenced care decisions coupled with increasing patient expectations are pushing us to seek ways to get patients to higher levels of functional outcomes with greater expediency. Improving your patient outcomes is dependent on being well-versed in the most effective and efficient approach to care, which is another aspect of evidence-based practice.
Opportunities in Management and Academia
As our entry-level physical therapist training has transitioned to a doctoral-level, positions in management and academia require the same level of training. Doctoral trained candidates for management positions are in high demand. Completing this training positions managers to be effective in mentoring PT staff with contemporary practice knowledge and expectations, leading to better care outcomes and increased employee satisfaction.
Securing a position in academia is not solely dependent on earning an advanced academic degree, such as a PhD or EdD. Holding a DPT and an APTA clinic specialty certification are eligibility requirements for teaching positions in many programs.
In reflection, the value of a TDPT education is becoming increasingly clear given the demands for keeping pace with the ever-changing healthcare arena and requirements for select career advancement opportunities in management and academia. So, the question of taking this next step is not “why” but rather “when.” Feel free to check out the Shenandoah University TDPT program for more information on how to earn your DPT degree.