Physical Therapy Class of 2018 takes an oath of commitment to professionalism [video]

Humility, grit and gratefulness, three traits every physical therapy student should have throughout their careers.

That’s the advice from Sharon Dunn, PT, PhD, OCS, president of the American Physical Therapy Association, as she provided the keynote address to the Commitment to Professionalism Ceremony for the USF School of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Sciences.

The event, held Oct. 15 in the USF College of the Arts Theatre I, welcomed incoming Doctor of Physical Therapy students to the profession and signified their transition into a career founded on helping patients return to quality lives after injury.

Dr. Sharon Dunn

Dr. Sharon Dunn

“Your humility has to be genuine,” Dr. Dunn told the Class of 2018. “A healthy fear is a good thing. Know that you cannot possible know everything – add people who fill the deficits. It may feel better to surround yourself with people who agree with you, but nothing good comes from isolated decision making.”

For grit, she advised the group to roll up their sleeves and have perseverance.

“It’s hard to beat somebody who doesn’t quit,” she said.

And for gratitude, she turned to the audience to acknowledge the family members present, reminding the students that they are the people who helped them be at this ceremony today.

“Don’t forget your roots,” she said. “The character you have comes from your home training.”

The Class of 2018 in the DPT program has 47 students and represents one of the School’s most selective groups, said Charles J. Lockwood, MD, senior vice president for USF Health and dean for the Morsani College of Medicine.

“The Class of 2018 is our most selective, chosen from among 1,299 applicants,” Dr. Lockwood said. “So you only had about a 4 percent chance of getting in.”

2015 USF Health School of Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation Sciences White Coat Ceremony

Dr. Charles Lockwood

Dr. Lockwood also noted several other achievements of the young School:

  • It enrolled its first cohort of students in the legislatively funded USF-University of West Florida academic partnership.
  • The Florida Board of Governors approved the School’s PhD in Rehabilitation Sciences degree program this year.
  • And USF accepted its first resident into the College’s Orthopaedic Physical Therapy Residency program.

Along with making introductions for the Ceremony, William S. Quillen, PT, PhD, SCS, FACSM, professor and director of the USF School of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Sciences and associate dean for the Morsani College of Medicine, announced several awards and acknowledgments, including the Nicolosi Commitment to Professional Award, which went to second-year DPT student Arlene Shi, and the Spirit of Interprofessionalism Award, which went to Dr. David Ecker, MD, assistant professor in the Department of Internal Medicine and in the School of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Sciences.

Dr. Sandy Quillen

Dr. Sandy Quillen

While the white coat itself is a symbol of knowledge, trust and responsibility, the School’s Commitment to Professionalism Ceremony also conveys other symbolism.

“In some ways it is less about the white coats than it is about a transformation of the heart,” said Laure Lee “Dolly” Swisher, PT, MDiv, PhD, FAPTA, professor and coordinator of professional education and assistant dean for Interprofessional Education for the USF School of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Sciences.

Dr. Dolly Swisher

Dr. Dolly Swisher

Each student will make several stops in travelling across the stage, she prefaced, before explaining each step.

As they walk toward center stage, toward their clinical faculty mentors: “This represents entry into the community of physical therapy professionals and the willingness to share in the joys as well as responsibilities of the practice of physical therapy.”

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Putting on the coat: “This represents a ‘Donning the mantle of professional responsibility’ with the assistance of trusted mentors.”

Receiving a copy of the oath from the academic faculty: “Represents a commitment to embrace the physical therapy body of knowledge – as science, expertise, and art.  This is a commitment to constantly enhance one’s knowledge about practice, about the profession, and about the patients and clients that we serve.”

Receiving of gifts from students in the previous classes: “The gift and pin represents a commitment to current and future colleagues in pursuit of shared professional excellence. The gift also represents the generosity of professional colleagues in pursuing the shared goal of excellence and caring.”

As students complete their turn across the stage: “They will face family, friends, students, members of the clinical community, and others who have joined us – this represents accountability to family, future patients, other professionals and society as a whole. It is an acceptance that the freedom and privilege of physical therapy practice ultimately depends on being accountable to society, the physical therapy profession, and the public.  And that professional accountability is truly at the heart of being a professional – not simply in an abstract way but in a personal way in each and every minute of the day.”

After all 47 DPT students took those steps, they recited, in unison, the Physical Therapist’s Professional Oath, a promise of integrity, compassion, professionalism and evidence-based practice. What followed was a theatre full of cheers and applause from friends, family and classmates.

DPT Class of 2018 stats:

33 women, 14 men

Avg. Upper Div. GPA: 3.78

Avg. Prerequisite GPA: 3.61

Avg. Overall GPA: 3.68

 

2015 USF Health School of Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation Sciences White Coat Ceremony

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2015 USF Health School of Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation Sciences White Coat Ceremony

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2015 USF Health School of Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation Sciences White Coat Ceremony

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2015 USF Health School of Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation Sciences White Coat Ceremony

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Video by Sandra C. Roa, story by Sarah Worth, photos by Eric  Younghans, USF Health Office of Communications.