Hybrid DPT Students Visit Campus for First Time for Immersion Experience

By Caitlin Burns | October 23, 2020

On Oct. 8, the first hybrid cohort of Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) students arrived on campus at Arcadia University for a weeklong on-campus visit to work with cadavers and practice hands-on skills from what they had learned online since classes began on Aug. 24.  

The nationally ranked DPT program announced the expansion last year to offer a hybrid learning model for healthcare and medical professionals, which will run parallel to the residential program and offer the same curriculum, objectives, and degree duration. 

“I like that I can do the lectures at my own pace,” said Tiffany Morris ’22, who traveled the furthest to campus from Dracut, Massachusetts for the week. “I didn’t want to [relocate] for a program, but I knew Arcadia had a great reputation, and the online program fit.”

The students in the hybrid cohort range from recent graduates and longtime professionals, including economics and kinesiology majors. Their long-term goals are similarly varied, and include professions in the orthopedic, pediatric, and sports physical therapy fields. 

“I graduated in 2011 as a double major in economics and sports management, and then worked as a football coach and strength and conditioning coach at Beckert College [in Worcester, Massachusetts],” said Doylestown, Pa. resident David LaPlaca ’22, who also holds a Master of Business Administration from Clark University and a doctorate in Kinesiology from the University of Georgia. “When I learned about physical therapy, it was a lot of what I was already doing as a strength and conditioning coach, but it offered the opportunity for a more professional lifestyle.”

Prior to their week on campus, students had learned about musculoskeletal connections of the hips, knees, and ankles through online lectures. At the end of the week, students were tested on their knowledge of the lower extremities.

“We’re all working hard to create parity between the two different delivery models of DPT education, of which the end product will be a well-rounded clinician to address the physical therapy needs of the community across multiple settings,” said Dr. Brian Eckenrode, associate professor of Physical Therapy and director of the Hybrid DPT program. “The students have been giving us great feedback on the curriculum delivery, and it’s been great to see the progress they have made so far this semester.”

In total, the hybrid students will visit campus eight times over the 25-month program for their immersion experience. These on campus experiences will consist of immersive hands-on manual skills labs and practical assessments, along with combined application and clinical case sessions with the residential DPT student cohort. Their next visit to Arcadia will be in six weeks.