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Trine’s 3+3 DPT grads getting high marks on licensure exam

FORT WAYNE — Each year, thousands of physical therapy program graduates take the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE), required to attain licensure as a physical therapist. Only a small percentage earn the top score of 800.

However, Trine University’s Doctor of Physical Therapy program has had three graduates from its last two graduation cycles hit the high mark: Shawna Carbone and Madison Cook from the Class of 2020, and Janaya Wilder from the Class of 2021.

All three completed their undergraduate work in exercise science at Trine’s main campus in Angola and were part of the university’s 3+3 program, which allows students to enter the three-year DPT program in Fort Wayne after three years on the main campus.

“While 800 scores happen across the country every year, having three in two years from a relatively small cohort is a pretty unique achievement,” said Max Baumgartner, PT, PhD, director of Trine’s Doctor of Physical Therapy Program. “The success of these students is not only an indication of the high-caliber students who choose Trine University’s direct entry program, it is also a testament to the hard work and dedication of our faculty, staff and clinical partners to provide these students with the opportunity to achieve their potential as outstanding physical therapists.”

The three said they were attracted to Trine’s 3+3 program by the opportunity to save a year of undergraduate tuition. Carbone also said she enjoyed being able to start her career sooner; she is now working at Indiana Physical Therapy and taking classes toward becoming a certified orthopedic manual therapist.

“I just recently began a role as a clinical instructor to my first DPT student, as well,” she said.

Wilder, who works at Indiana Physical Therapy’s Decatur location, was impressed by the synthesis between Trine’s undergraduate and graduate programs.

“Why wouldn't I want to be a part of an undergraduate program designed specifically to prepare students for a DPT program,” she said. “I knew it would be the path that would set me up for success and help me save money at the same time.”

A full-time physical therapist at Steppin’ Up Physical Therapy, Cook said the higher-level, analytical thinking required for her exercise science courses and exams at Trine’s main campus helped her develop test-taking strategies for the DPT program. Wilder agreed.

“By the time I was in the DPT program, I didn't have to figure out how to study or take tests, I only had to focus on learning the material and clinical skills,” she said.

Once they started in Fort Wayne, the three said the extensive hands-on clinical experience in Trine’s DPT program, required test preparation and practice tests designed to simulate the NPTE set them up to succeed on the licensure test.

“My favorite thing about Trine’s PT school is that we had five ‘mini-clinicals’ throughout our first two years through our CARE program,” said Cook, referring to Trine’s Clinical Application and Reflection Experience course. “This program allowed me to gain confidence and experience in the clinic while implementing skills as I learned them in class. I was able to gain knowledge and insight through CARE, and I was able to see PT through a lot of different therapists’ lenses, which helped shape me into the therapist I am today.”

“Through the CARE program, we were communicating with and treating patients from day one,” said Wilder. “By the time we started full-time clinicals, we had experience at five different facilities with a variety of patients. Combined with our full-time clinicals and the knowledge I had gained in the classroom, I felt confident starting my job on day one.”

Carbone and Cook said they were both surprised to earn the top score, and all three were glad the hard work they put in throughout the DPT program paid off.

“I was just relieved to have passed the exam, but getting a ‘perfect’ score was an unexpected cherry on top,” said Cook.

Located in Fort Wayne, Indiana, Trine University’s Doctor of Physical Therapy program prepares students to sit for licensure and practice in a clinical setting. For more information, please visit trine.edu/dpt. Highly qualified high school students interested in the Direct Entry program can visit trine.edu/academics/majors-degrees/undergraduate/pre-physical-therapy-professional-track/direct-entry.aspx.

  • Janaya Wilder

    Janaya Wilder

  • Madison Cook

    Madison Cook

  • Shawna Carbone

    Shawna Carbone