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ULM Doctor of Physical Therapy Program attains Candidate for Accreditation status

Published November 30, 2022

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MONROE, LA – The University of Louisiana Monroe Doctor of Physical Therapy Program is proud to announce an accomplishment that has been three years in the making. Effective November 10, 2022, the ULM DPT Program has been granted Candidate for Accreditation status by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE.) This status allows ULM to begin admitting students to the program. The initial cohort of more than 40 students will begin in the fall semester of 2023. 

University of Louisiana Monroe President Dr. Ronald Berry offered his congratulations to everyone involved. “I’d like to congratulate Dean Simpson and the entire DPT faculty for this accomplishment and thank them for their tremendous work throughout this journey,” said Berry. “I’d also like to acknowledge and thank Dr. Jim Henderson and the board of the University of Louisiana System for their support, as well as leaders in the healthcare industry who provided financial support for the accreditation process,” he added.   

The ULM Doctor of Physical Therapy Program aims to develop diverse, high-functioning practitioners and leaders who will partner with the community to produce meaningful and sustainable change. The ULM DPT Program will be the third public university and fourth overall university in Louisiana to provide doctoral-level training for physical therapists.  

Dr. Mary Elizabeth Parker, DPT Program Director, acknowledged the support of the University and community in this accomplishment. “Without the support of the President, Provost, Dean of Health Sciences, and Director of Allied Health, this would not have been possible. We want to especially thank Dr. Ashanti Jones, who has been the pillar of strength, wisdom, and progress on this mission,” said Parker.  

Dr. Jones, Director of Clinical Education, says the journey to begin the ULM DPT program has taught her many things about herself, her co-workers, the university, and the community. “We are resilient and determined. We are student-centered and community-focused. We strive daily to provide the most elite levels of education to our students and support our community,” she said.  

According to Parker, the program is unique in its mission to educate physical therapists to work in underserved areas. “Our program is honored to serve the Ark-La-Miss region. We are ready to grow our own by reaching out into the area to find students who want to learn and work here in our community,” she said.  

Dr. Jones added, "The DPT program’s rural health focus will allow our students to graduate as entry-level-ready clinicians and possess a sense of community commitment, patient-centered focus, and advocacy-driven passion for creating impactful and sustainable change in healthcare. This program will impact healthcare disparities, generating more significant access to physical therapy services and a career in physical therapy.”  

Dr. Parker noted that the ULM DPT program faculty possess a wide range of skill sets, community roots, and passion for the profession. Dr. Jones praised the faculty as well, saying, “The beauty of this achievement is that most of the DPT faculty members started as community volunteers sacrificing their time to pour into the DPT program. Their commitment and dedication to the development of the DPT program are a testament to how strongly they believe in what it stands for.” 

Assistant Professor Dr. Ondrell Moore said, “Our candidacy status reflects the diligent and perseverant efforts of a talented group of individuals and the University’s commitment to the mission and vision of the ULM DPT Program. Now that we have reached this milestone, the Physical Therapy department can refocus on creating an exceptional experience for prospective students, allied health faculty and staff, stakeholders, and our community partners.” 

Assistant Professor Dr. Victoria Hamby described the accreditation process as an emotional rollercoaster of highs and lows. “Everyone has dedicated so much time and effort into this program and to see it reach this level gives me a feeling of peace and accomplishment, but also a hunger for the future. I am so excited to be part of this amazing team from the start and can’t wait to share our knowledge and expertise with our students and future physical therapists,” she said.  

Assistant Professor Dr. Abhinaandan Batra said, “I came late on this train, but I am excited about this opportunity and cannot thank the people before me enough who have put so much effort into bringing this program to where it is now. I know as a community, this place will benefit significantly from this program.”  

Dr. Donald Simpson, Dean of the College of Health Sciences, said, "The College of Health Sciences is committed to providing access to physical therapy education, and access to healthcare, for Louisiana residents living in the most impoverished areas of the United States.  The DPT program exemplifies our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion by establishing an endowed scholarship for first-generation students and providing textbooks and instructional materials to students in the program at no cost to them." 

While the Candidate for Accreditation status is a major accomplishment that allows the program to begin, the DPT Program faculty are continuing preparations for full accreditation.  

“The request for candidacy status process has trained the ULM DPT faculty and staff to properly implement and execute all requirements of CAPTE Standards and Elements,” said Dr. Ashanti Jones. “Our next steps are to carry out the ULM DPT strategic plan of action, practice ongoing assessment, and prepare to start the application process for initial accreditation status in 2026,” she added.   

“We have three years to demonstrate our commitment to our students, the profession, the University, and our community,” said Dr. Mary Elizabeth Parker. “We welcome everyone’s support and guidance as we move forward,” she said.