Trine adds Doctor of Physical Therapy program

February 07, 2013

ANGOLA, Ind. – Trine University is making history with a new school and a first-ever doctorate, and an integral part of this advancement is the new dean and program director.

The new School of Health Sciences, Trine's sixth school, will initially offer the university's Doctor of Physical Therapy program. However, Trine is considering other health care-related programming within the new school.

"This is an exciting and historic time at Trine as we add the School of Health Sciences and offer our first doctoral program," said Trine president Earl D. Brooks II, Ph.D.  "It is with great preparation and deliberation that we add this school and program to prepare students to meet the growing regional and national demand for physical therapists."

At the helm of the school and new Doctor of Physical Therapy program is Max Baumgartner, P.T., Ph.D., of Perrysburg, Ohio. Baumgartner, who was hired Jan. 2, came to Trine from the University of Toledo (Ohio).

"Dr. Baumgartner is a capable and experienced physical therapist who will lead Trine through the accreditation process with the Higher Learning Commission and the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education," Brooks said. "He brings with him more than 20 years of clinical experience and 15 years of academic experience."

The doctoral program in partnership with Parkview Hospital and Lutheran Hospital of Indiana, both in Fort Wayne, will be located on Parkview's Randallia campus in the former Fort Wayne Cardiology building.  The 66,000-square-foot facility is being renovated to house a state-of-the art biomechanics and movement sciences lab, along with classrooms and offices to support faculty and staff.

"I'm privileged to be a part of this growth and change at Trine," Baumgartner said. "I look forward to carrying Trine's tradition of excellence and innovation into the School of Health Sciences, and to ensuring the success of this new doctoral program."

Doctoral program details

Trine plans to offer a 3+3 program, a viable model used by several other universities, Baumgartner said. This program would give Trine students the advantage of earning a doctorate in six years, compared to seven years for students who complete a bachelor degree elsewhere and then are accepted into Trine's doctoral program. The program for which Trine is in the process of seeking accreditation would enable qualified Trine students to enter the physical therapy doctorate program after three years of undergraduate work. After completing the first year in the physical therapy program, students would earn a Bachelor of Science degree in either exercise science or biology, he said. Students would then continue for two more years to earn their doctor of physical therapy degree.

The program will help meet growing demand for more physical therapists with doctorate degrees, Baumgartner said. "As the knowledge base in the field has grown, physical therapists have had to increase their studies, making doctorate degrees the new standard," he explained.

The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 39 percent growth in the number of physical therapists needed through 2020, and reports the median wage in 2010 was $76,310 (the most recent figure available).

Trine is seeking status as "candidate for accreditation" from the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education and from the Higher Learning Commission with plans to begin accepting applications in fall 2013 with a target enrollment of 30 students. Letters of acceptance are scheduled to be sent in spring 2014, with classes projected to begin in fall 2014.

New director

Baumgartner earned a Doctorate of Philosophy degree and an education specialist certification, both in computing technology in education, from Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; a Master of Science in physical therapy from the University of Saint Augustine, Saint Augustine, Fla.; and a Bachelor of Science in physical therapy and a Bachelor of Arts in biology from the University of Toledo.

He also completed a fellowship at the University of Saint Augustine, Institute of Physical Therapy.

Trine's schools

Trine's new School of Health Sciences is the university's sixth school. Other schools at Trine are the Allen School of Engineering & Technology, Franks School of Education, Jannen School of Arts & Sciences, Ketner School of Business and School of Professional Studies.

Accreditation details

Graduation from a physical therapist  education program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE), 1111 North Fairfax Street, Alexandria, VA 22314; phone, 703-706-3245; is necessary for eligibility to sit for the licensure examination, which is required in all states.

Trine University is seeking accreditation of a new physical therapist education program from CAPTE. The program will submit an Application for Candidacy, which is the formal application required in the pre-accreditation stage. Submission of this document does not assure that the program will be granted Candidate for Accreditation status. Achievement of Candidate for Accreditation status is required prior to implementation of the professional phase of the program; therefore, no students may be enrolled in professional courses until Candidate for Accreditation status has been achieved. Further, though achievement of Candidate for Accreditation status signifies satisfactory progress toward accreditation, it does not assure that the program will be granted accreditation.

Trine will also seek approval from the Higher Learning Commission to offer courses and a program at a new degree level (doctorate).

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