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School of the Month

An initiative brought to you by the OPTA Student Special Interest Group! Each month, an Ohio PT or PTA program will be featured, giving you insight into their learning, research, professional development, social networking and fun! Here's how to get involved + all of the former Schools of the Months!



SCHOOL: Youngstown State University - DPT Program

LOCATION: Youngstown, Ohio 


Youngstown State University’s DPT program is a three-year program which consist of nine semesters and thirty students per class. With a total of only ninety students in the program at any given time, we all work closely together to help each other and to maximize our experience. Every upcoming first year is assigned a second-year and a third-year mentor as a lifeline for any questions, concerns, or advice. Each class also has four graduate assistants from the upper classes which are another great resource when in need of a little extra help. All of our classes take place in the Cushwa Hall where we have a lab, classroom, and student lounge. The lounge is a place where students can go to get some work done or on a rare occasion sit back and relax between classes. We have access to several computers and a printer that we can use at our disposal as well as a fully stocked bookshelf full of resources that we can access at any time. All of our professors add their own unique knowledge to our program and are readily available whenever we need them. We are so lucky to have such an amazing faculty and staff that work so hard to push us towards success and encourage us to be the best physical therapists that we can be



Community outreach is very important to both the students and faculty in Youngstown State University’s DPT program. Every Thursday our students along with a faculty member take turns staffing the morning and afternoon shifts at our program’s pro bono clinic, Penguin Physical Therapy. In the summer of 2014, our school began partnering with the Midlothian Free Health Clinic (MFHC), which led to the opening of Penguin PT. This clinic is an amazing opportunity for students to get some hands-on experience with real patients while expanding our knowledge of the field. Another big way that our program gets involved in community outreach is through a class we take at the beginning of our second year called “Community Applications”. Over the summer we spent a morning serving breakfast at the local Rescue Mission, as well as spending an afternoon working with the clients at The Purple Cat, a local program that offers alternative day-programs for adults with developmental and mental disabilities. On top of all of the volunteer opportunities that were presented to us we were also broken into groups to complete a project within the community. Two of the projects were focused around the MFHC and Penguin PT and included renovating the building as well as planning an open house. A third group partnered with a children’s museum downtown, Oh Wow!, for Go Baby Go, where they helped build an obstacle course for young children that allowed them to drive around in adaptive cars. The final group worked very hard planning two different events to raise money for an organization that is very close to our hearts; STAND: The Haiti Project, which centers around sending orthopedic-focused care to the poorest areas in Haiti to improve their quality of life. 


Professional development is another important aspect of our program. The DPT program requires a professional dress code for all classes that do not consist of lab practice. We also have a strict attendance policy that requires students to be on time or to call off if they are unable to attend class for any reason. Our professors hold us to high standard when it comes to professional behavior, pushing us to become the best of the best as we work towards starting our careers. Although strict rules and policies are not always appealing, we know that they have our best interest at heart and we appreciate being pushed to become better professionals. Another way that our school promotes professional development is by attending Inter-professional Development Day at North East Ohio Medical School. This is an amazing opportunity that all second-year students attend on a Saturday to meet with other disciplines such as physicians, pharmacists, nurses, nutritionist, and social work to learn how to work in a team based setting. 


As students, we are strongly encouraged by the faculty to attend as many conferences as we can. In the past students, have attended CSM, NSC, OPTA leadership conference, OPTA Scientific Symposium, The physical Therapy Pro Bono Network Eastern Regional Conference, and OPTA Annual Conference. Also, first years, we are required to attend the OPTA Advocacy Day which is a great learning experience as well as a great way for students to get out of the classroom for a short time and check out Columbus. Our program, the dean of the College of Health and Human Services, and the University are very generous with providing funds for these trips, covering all or most of the expenses that our students incur. Additionally, students are encouraged to participate in essay contests sponsored by OPTA for the different APTA conferences. 


In our program, we go through a series of classes known as Critical Inquiry, where research is housed in our curriculum. This three-course series teaches us how to find, critique and use evidence in our papers, class teaching/learning activities and during clinical education. Starting in part II of the series student pick a topic of research based on one of the research projects that our professors are currently working and get the opportunity to get firsthand experience on how research is conducted. Additionally, the program supports independent research in areas students may be interested in outside of what is already being done. Just this past year a group of our students worked on a research project with one of our professors and proceeded to present a poster on their topic at CSM. The project will be presented again this year and expanded upon at CSM as a platform presentation. In the past, students of the program have also presented research at the OPTA Scientific Symposium. 


This initiative started by the OPTA Student Special Interest Group (SSIG) board will feature a school each month. The goal of this program is to encourage communication and collaboration between all Ohio PT and PTA programs. Click here for more information on how to show off your PT or PTA program as the School of The Month


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