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New Doctoral Programs Offered

By Crystal Baity

Two new doctoral programs, one in rehabilitation counseling and administration and the other in physical therapy, are being offered this fall in the School of Allied Health Sciences.

Six students in the rehabilitation counseling and administration program began work in August. Thirty began in the physical therapy program in May.

Rehabilitation Counseling and Administration

Of the first group of students, more than half have master’s degrees in rehabilitation counseling with work experience. “It is a diverse group,” said Dr. Daniel Wong, director of the program. “Clinical experience is critical. You understand the field much better and can apply it to higher learning. It goes hand and hand.”

Several students plan to use their terminal degree to become faculty members or professors. Others plan to continue their clinical practice, or do both. Students are planning research in areas such as disability and employment, and the affect of substance abuse on families, Wong said.

Doctoral student Ben Selby has operated a private practice, Big Wave Therapy in Williamston, for two years and previously worked as a substance abuse counselor at Tideland Mental Health Center. He received his master’s of science dual degree in rehabilitation counseling and substance abuse counseling from ECU in 1997. He decided to go back for his Ph.D. to become a counselor educator. Selby said the degree will prepare him to teach in a university setting and also perform higher administrative and clinical functions within various treatment programs. Selby plans to design research that will look at children and families from a multi-system approach in hopes of preventing or mitigating many of the problems facing rural areas.

Another doctoral student, Chris Cubero, works full-time as a high school counselor for the Nash County School System and part-time in a private practice as a group facilitator for substance abusers. He graduated from ECU with a master’s degree in 2002. The terminal degree will benefit Cubero by offering flexibility in career choices to ways of providing new or additional services to those in need. He eventually would like to teach at the university level. He also has interest in the Hispanic Latino population because of his father’s family in Costa Rica.

The doctoral program will meet the need for terminal degree professionals in clinical and administrative roles in applied service delivery and agency settings. A secondary objective addresses the need for university faculty in North Carolina and nationwide, said Dr. Paul Alston, chair of the Department of Rehabilitation Studies.

The ECU rehabilitation counseling program has consistently ranked in the top 20 in the nation by “U.S. News & World Report.”

Physical Therapy

The changing health care system requires the graduating physical therapist to be prepared for direct access and more autonomous practice, said Dr. Denis Brunt, chairman of the Department of Physical Therapy.

As a result, ECU is transitioning from a master’s to a three-year doctoral degree program. The primary goals of the program are to strengthen diagnostic clinical decision-making and patient intervention skills by emphasizing an evidenced-based patient management model and to provide research and clinical specialty experience, Brunt said.

The competitive program will admit 30 students each year. More than 120 people applied this year.

Addie Chlebnikow is part of the DPT class that started in May and will graduate in 2008. The change from a master’s to a doctoral degree has resulted in more coursework, clinical and field work. She describes the class as an extended family because everyone is in class together everyday.

“It is a great group of people - a very team-oriented atmosphere,” said Chlebnikow, drawing on her athletic background. “You learn how to work with other people – knowing when to be a leader and when to follow.”

Chlebnickow, originally from Charlottesville, Va., received her bachelor’s degree in exercise physiology in 2002 from ECU. She is a graduate assistant in the motion analysis lab in the physical therapy department.

10/10/05
This page originally appeared in the Oct. 14, 2005 issue of Pieces of Eight. Complete issue is archived at http://www.ecu.edu/news/poe/archives.cfm.