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100% success: Signature graduate programs continue to excel

De'Sember Phillips receives her hood from (left) Dr. Lynn Millar and Dr. Emma White during the December 2017 Doctor of Physical Therapy ceremony.

Graduates of two of Winston-Salem State University’s (WSSU) signature graduate programs – physical therapy and occupational therapy – continue to excel on their national licensing exams, receiving 100 percent passage rates on their required licensure exams for 2017.

Physical Therapy: Preparing Students

For the second consecutive year, graduates of WSSU’s doctoral program in physical therapy received a perfect 100 percent passage rate on their national licensure exams, the program recently learned.

Of the 27 WSSU December graduates who took the National Physical Therapy Exam (NPTE), a requirement to become a licensed physical therapist, all passed on their first attempt. Also, their average scores (709) once again were significantly higher than the national average (678).

Dr. Lynn Millar, chair of the Department of Physical Therapy, said she attributes the success to “a very progressive, deliberate approach” to prepare students for the exam. A big component of this is a board prep course.

“Having a 100 percent cohort pass rate two years in a row demonstrates the quality of our program and dedication of our faculty,” Millar said. “The is reinforced with our assessment data from employers who indicate that our graduates are well prepared from day one.”

Based on data from the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE), the 100 percent passage rate on the national exam (NPTE) for WSSU’s 2017 DPT graduates places WSSU in the top 16 percent of programs nationally, Millar said.

WSSU’s physical therapy program began as a master’s-level program and has graduated nearly 400 students since its first class in 1993. The program transitioned to the doctoral level in 2010. Twenty eight students are enrolled in the program each spring to begin a 36-month curriculum that includes four clinical education experiences spanning 36 weeks.

Occupational Therapy: Exceeding Expectations

For the fourth year in a row, graduates of WSSU’s Master of Science in Occupational Therapy (MSOT) program have received a 100 percent passage rate on the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) certification examination, according to reports.

"We have a very hard working faculty who are dedicated to student success,” said Dr. Cynthia Bell, associate professor and chair of the Occupational Therapy Department at WSSU. “Our faculty have high expectations of those who enter our program, and our students consistently rise to meet and exceed our expectations."

WSSU’s 28 graduates for 2017 also scored an average of 490, well above the national average of 478. 

Occupational therapists serve patients with physical, mental and cognitive disorders, and help them participate in everyday activities through personalized evaluation and intervention to improve their ability to perform activities. According to U.S. Labor data, employment of occupational therapists in North Carolina is projected to grow 26 percent over the next 10 years, much faster than the average for all occupations. Glassdoor, January 2018: 50 Best Jobs in America for 2018: Occupational Therapist is No. 4.

Both programs are part of WSSU’s School of Health Sciences, which annually enrolls more than 1,500 students in undergraduate and graduate nursing and allied health disciplines. 

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