By SAMANTHA GRISWOLD
managing editor, news
When Gannon University opened the doors to its campus in Ruskin, Fla., in 2015, the only program offered was the occupational therapy doctorate (OTD). The university recently announced two new programs – doctor of physical therapy (DPT) and master of athletic training (MAT) – to the campus, providing students with more opportunities.
The DPT program in Ruskin will begin this summer and consists of 109 credits over nine semesters and includes 40 weeks of full-time clinical experiences. Students will also have the opportunity to travel for clinical education experiences.
Courses will provide students with hands-on learning experiences in conjunction with a network of community partners in Florida.
According to the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE), the DPT program at Gannon’s Ruskin campus has been granted Candidate for Accreditation, which went into effect last November.
Candidate for Accreditation is a pre-accreditation status of affiliation with the CAPTE, which means that the program is in the process of accreditation and can allow students to take courses, but is not officially accredited yet.
According to the CAPTE’s website, Gannon’s DPT program is expected to graduate its first set of students in May of 2020.
The Ruskin MAT program offers a two-year degree and incorporates clinical education experiences to prepare students for the Board of Certification (BOC) examination.
According to the Commission on Accreditation for Athletic Training Education (CAATE), Gannon is the only institution of higher learning to offer MAT programs on campuses in two different states.
Gannon’s MAT program at the Ruskin campus is currently seeking accreditation, according to the CAATE’s website. Gannon will be submitting a self-study to begin the accreditation process on July 1, 2018.
Samantha Trapp, a senior occupational therapy major, said that even though she thinks the Ruskin campus provides a great opportunity for some students, she doesn’t think she will pursue a doctorate degree in her field.
“[The program] does provide you with an extra opportunity for research but that doesn’t necessarily make you a better clinician,” she said. “It’s a good way to incorporate further knowledge into practice and make you more credible, but I’d rather just go for a certification in hand therapy.”
According to the university, the current academic year enrollment in the OTD program exceeds 50 students. The program is one of only three programs accredited by the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) to offer the OTD degree in Florida.
The Florida campus is located between Tampa and Sarasota on the western shore of Tampa Bay and was chosen because of the increasing demand for health professionals in areas that serve the health care part of the Florida economy.