Support of AB 2382 (Blumenfield), Legislation to Authorize the Offering of the Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) Degree in the California State University



RESOLVED: That the Academic Senate of the California State University (ASCSU) support and encourage the Chancellor and the Board of Trustees to support “AB 2382 (Blumenfield), as amended.  California State University: Doctor of Physical Therapy degrees,” which authorizes the CSU to offer an independent Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree; and be it further

RESOLVED: That the ASCSU support the continuance of successful joint doctoral physical therapy programs such as the partnership between San Francisco State University and the University of California San Francisco, currently ranked 13th in the nation; and be it further

RESOLVED: That the ASCSU affirm that DPT degree programs offered by campuses of the CSU must be developed and approved by faculty through regular academic program review and approval processes (including individual campus academic senates) at all individual campuses; and be it further

RESOLVED: That all proposed DPT programs be developed in accordance with all appropriate national standards for such applied doctoral programs; and be it further

RESOLVED: That the ASCSU distribute this resolution to the CSU Chancellor and Board of Trustees; campus presidents; campus senate chairs; Assembly Member Marty Block, Chair of Assembly Committee on Higher Education; Assembly Member Felipe Fuentes, Chair of Assembly Committee on Appropriations; Assembly Member Mary Hayashi, Chair of  Assembly Committee on Business, Professions and Consumer Protection; Assembly Members Robert Blumenfield, Anthony Adams, Joan Buchanan, Cathleen Galgiani, Lori Saldana, and Audra Strickland; and State Senators Tony Strickland and Mark Wyland.

RATIONALE: The demand for physical therapists throughout California is strong.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the California Employment Development Department, California exceeds the national growth rate of jobs for physical therapists (30% vs 27%), and it is estimated that California will experience a 30% increase in physical therapy jobs between 2006 and 2018.  The demand for physical therapists in the Northern California region is especially significant since, according to the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development, 19 areas in the region are designated as medically underserved and/or with underserved populations.    Data from the Physical Therapy Central Application Service reveal that applications and enrollments in California physical therapy programs continue to increase. 

According to the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education, CSU campuses provide approximately 38% of the new graduate workforce in physical therapy each year. 

While the demand for physical therapists grows, state law currently prohibits the CSU from offering an independent Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree.  This is problematic because the education model for physical therapy is now a 4-year baccalaureate degree followed by a 3-year entry-level professional DPT program.  Indeed, for existing physical therapy programs nationwide, the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education has mandated the DPT degree for all accredited programs by December 31, 2015, and this doctoral degree would therefore be necessary for students to achieve professional standing. 

As of June 15, 2009, 94% of the 212 accredited physical therapy programs in the United States are approved to confer the DPT degree, and 100% of programs that are in development plan to offer the DPT.  Only 11 programs nationwide offer a Master’s of Physical Therapy (MPT) and not the DPT; 5 of them are CSU programs.  The DPT has become the national standard.

Partnerships for joint DPT programs with University of California (UC) schools have not materialized in any significant way, with the exception of the UC San Francisco/San Francisco State partnership, which will begin offering the entry-level DPT in Summer 2010.  UC San Francisco, despite having the authority to offer an entry-level doctorate, offers a post-professional DPT only.  UC has signaled its disinterest in partnering with CSU beyond current arrangements in place with San Francisco State University and CSU Fresno.  Moreover, the joint DPT programs in place are not achieving graduation rates that will keep pace with demand.  For instance, the CSU Fresno joint DPT program with UC San Francisco graduated only 8 students in 2008 and 2 in 2009, and only 2 students are currently enrolled.

The ASCSU has offered its “Support for the Authority for the CSU to Grant Independent Professional/Clinical Doctorates” in the past (AS-2683-05); allowing CSU campuses to offer independent doctorates specifically in physical therapy will help address the ongoing shortage of physical therapists in California.  The cost for such programs would be more affordable than private schools or joint programs with UC.  Access to the profession would be increased for students from historically underrepresented groups and those with socioeconomic barriers.  Additionally, using the model for the Ed.D., it appears to be possible to offer such programs on a self-sustaining basis within three years. 

AB 2382 has received the strong support of the California Physical Therapy Association, the California Hospital Association, the California Association of Health Facilities, California Nursing groups, and both the Northern and Southern California Clinical Education Consortia.  The bill was passed unanimously out of the Assembly Higher Education Committee, as well as the Assembly Business, Professions and Consumer Protection Committee.  It was approved without dissent by the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

Approved Unanimously– May 6-7, 2010



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