NAU launched hybrid Doctor of Physical Therapy Program attracting students across the U.S.

Northern Arizona State University (NAU) currently has a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program available to students on the Phoenix Bioscience Core campus as well as the Flagstaff campus. However, demand for physical therapists is on the rise, making the launch of NAU’s new Hybrid DPT program particularly timely. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of physical therapists is projected to grow 18 percent from 2022 to 2032, much faster than the average for all occupations. This growth is driven by an aging population and an increased focus on physical therapy as a means to improve mobility and manage chronic conditions.

To address this critical need, NAU is focused on creating flexibility without compromising a  high-quality education. January 2024 marked the launch of NAU’s hybrid DPT program with broad appeal. The program’s inaugural cohort attracted 31 students from all over Arizona and across the U.S. 

Dr. Carl DeRosa, the program director, emphasized the importance of the hybrid model in making advanced education accessible to a broader range of students. 

“This program is designed for individuals who might not be able to attend a traditional, on-campus program due to work, family, or geographical constraints,” Dr. DeRosa recently told the Arizona Daily Sun. . “We are leveraging technology to bring education to students where they are, without compromising the hands-on experience that is so critical in physical therapy training.” 

The curriculum of NAU’s hybrid DPT program includes online theoretical coursework covering foundational knowledge such as anatomy, physiology, and patient care principles and periodic in-person immersion sessions. he first cohort of students gathered in Flagstaff for their initial week-long immersion session, allowed students to meet each other as well as  gain hands-on training and practical experience. Sessions included patient assessments, therapeutic exercises, and simulations that mimic real-life clinical scenarios, complementing the online coursework.

 “Learning through the semester online is something that works for me, something that I’m able to gain the general knowledge… and then having these immersions is like the glue,” Jacob Patterson, a student in the inaugural cohort, told the Arizona Daily Sun. “ You might learn something in the semester and then once you get to the immersion and then you see that fit into the patient scenario, everything just clicks.” By offering a flexible and high-quality educational option, NAU is positioning itself as a leader in physical therapy education. The hybrid DPT program not only meets the current demand for trained professionals but also anticipates future needs in the healthcare industry.

NAU plans to continue refining and expanding its hybrid model. Future cohorts will benefit from the lessons learned and the feedback received from the initial group of students. The university aims to build a robust and dynamic program that can adapt to the evolving landscape of healthcare education.


Learn more about the program and how you can get involved at nau.edu/physical-therapy


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