Let’s Chat DPT: SHU’s Successful Physical Therapy Program

The physical therapy (PT) graduate program at Sacred Heart University currently has a 99% pass rate on the National Physical Therapy Exam (NPTE), all with the help of faculty, curriculum, and hardworking students.

The physical therapy graduate program takes place over the course of three years. Students can choose between doing a three-plus-three or a four-plus-three program, where they are able to complete a Doctorate of Physical Therapy in six or seven years.

The three-plus-three program is a more accelerated undergraduate program for students who are hoping to get their bachelor’s degree quicker, but in a very efficient way as the classes are more advanced than the average undergraduate classes.

The four-plus-three program allows students to finish their bachelor’s on a typical four-year track, followed by three years of graduate school.

The physical therapy Department Chair, Christopher Petrosino, said that the faculty plays a huge role in the success rate of the program.
“First and foremost, the exceptional faculty members and the community of support for each student to succeed contributes most to passing the NPTE,” said Petrosino. “The faculty has the program fine- tuned to identify and address when and where challenges occur, as well as keeping a pulse on each individual student’s needs to optimize potential to pass the NPTE.”

Petrosino joined Sacred Heart as a program director in July of 2017. Prior to that, he had 22 years of experience in academia and was a physical therapist.

The faculty of this program are focused on every individual student’s needs, with hopes to best prepare them for their careers post-graduation.

“Students leave the program with outstanding problem- solving, critical thinking, and communication skills, which are honed through application in

tutorial cases and use of evidence- based practice. This preparation enables students to be successful, life-long learners, and leaders in the physical therapy profession,” said Petrosino.

PT student at Sacred Heart, Jamie Bopp, is currently in the middle of her first year of the three-plus-three graduate program.

“I definitely think that this program is giving me a great foundation and is really preparing me for my career in the coming years. The staff and faculty are always willing to help when students need it and you can tell that they want their students to do well,” said Bopp. “Although I’m still only in my first semester of the graduate program, everything that I have learned so far is very valuable.”

The SHU Problem-Based Learning Curriculum is the curriculum used in the graduate program that makes the transition to clinics very seamless and doable. The program’s end goals are to create a welcoming yet educational experience for students so that once they graduate, they are more than ready to take on the roles of being physical therapists.

“Although the program has not been the easiest, I still feel like I’m getting a really good education and experience from it,” said Bopp.

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