University of South Florida

USF Physical Therapy welcomes record-number of incoming doctoral students

As friends and family watched, 46 incoming students to the doctoral program of the USF School of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Sciences recited in unison a promise to always provide compassionate and professional care to their patients.

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The DPT Class of 2017 reading the Oath of Commitment to Professionalism (written by the class).

The Class of 2017 – the largest incoming class in the School’s history – was taking part in the Commitment to Professionalism Ceremony, an event meant to signify the beginning of careers as doctors of physical therapy. This year’s event was held Oct. 16 at the USF School of Music Concert Hall. In addition to the oath, students were presented with their white coats, also symbolizing their entry into their careers as physical therapy professionals.

The evening event began with a procession into the Concert Hall led by Gregory Nicolosi, PhD, playing a bagpipe. Dr. Nicolosi, who retired from USF as professor of physiology in the Morsani College of Medicine and executive associate vice president and interim dean/vice president, was instrumental in helping found the USF the School of Physical Therapy. The school has named an award in his honor.

The keynote address was given by Ruth B. Purtilo, PhD, FAPTA, professor emerita at the Massachusetts General Hospital Institute of Health Professions. Dr. Purtilo’s talk was titled “Becoming a Professional: Where Are You Going and Why Does It Matter?”

The event also included the presentation of several awards. Casey Hodgin (DPT Class of 2015) was presented with the Vorholy Memorial Scholarship. Brittany Davis (DPT Class of 2016) earned the Nicolosi Commitment to Professionalism Award. And Steven Specter, PhD, MCOM Associate Dean for Alumni Relations, earned the Spirit of Interprofessionalism Award.

Molly Knight and Rebecca Graves, DPT 2016 Class Presidents, led the students as they recited their Commitment to Professionalism Oath. Faculty mentors then presented each student with a white coat, compliments of donors from across USF Health and the Tampa Bay community.

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Vorholy Memorial Scholarship winner Casey Hodgin (DPT Class of 2015), with Dr. Quillen and Dr. Jason Highsmith (co-founder of the scholarship and classmate of Johnene Vorholy).

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Nicolosi Commitment to Professionalism Award winner Brittany Davis (DPT Class of 2016) with Dr. Quillen and Dr. Greg Nicolosi.

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Spirit of Interprofessionalism Award winner Dr. Steven Specter.

In addition to welcoming the largest incoming class, this year was the first that included students from the USF/University of West Florida educational partnership, in which graduates of UWF spend the first year of the DPT curriculum on the USF Tampa campus and then return to the UWF campus in Pensacola for the second and third years of the curriculum.

While it’s a symbol for beginning the DPT program, the Ceremony is purposefully held in October rather than August to correlate with Physical Therapy Month.

The USF DPT Class of 2017 has 46 students: 29 women (63%) and 17 men (37%).

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Sarah Thompson receiving white coat from her clinical mentor, Kendall Lynch, and academic advisor, Seok Hun Kim.


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Arlene Shi (center) and family.

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From left, Kelsey Brown, Danielle Sims, Rebecca Graves.


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 Photos by Laurie Ballard of Christie’s Photographic Solutions.

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