Soon to be Academy of Pelvic Health Physical Therapy

Posts Tagged ‘scholarships’


SOWH: Pioneering Women’s and Men’s Health Research through the Foundation for Physical Therapy

Posted on: September 21st, 2016 by Aika Barzhaxynova No Comments

Barbara Connolly By Barbara Connolly, PT, DPT, Ed.D, FAPTA

Just six years ago, Section on Women’s Health leaders and members committed $100,000 to be pioneers and establish the SOWH Endowment for Research Excellence through the Foundation for Physical Therapy.

While other sections have developed funds previously, yours stood apart in its enthusiasm to continuously raise money to increase the size of the SOWH fund to support new investigators and facilitate research and evaluation of physical therapist interventions in women’s and men’s health.

The SOWH should be commended that in a very short time, your fund balance is nearly $150,000. SOWH members have on numerous occasions proven their commitment to the profession:

  • You have a member who has put the foundation in a will, directing contributions to the SOWH Fund.
  • You have members who make monthly contributions, and others who make tribute gifts in honor or memory of someone special.
  • At conferences you answer the call to support physical therapy research by making small and large gifts to support your fund.
  • Not only do section members support your own fund, but you also agreed to help when we asked you to support health services research. Thank you for helping to make the Center on Health Services Research (CoHSTAR) a reality.

In our 37-year history and through the generous support of donors, we have provided more than $17 million in scholarships, fellowships, and grants—enough to jumpstart the careers of 500-plus leading physical therapists. Of those, 17 SOWH members who are researchers have received 10 scholarships and seven grants totaling $148,464.

Our researchers have gone on to receive $755 million in follow-on funding from the National Institutes of Health and other funders. In addition, they have published more than 9,000 scholarly journal articles.

SOWH grant and scholarship recipients are successfully working to improve physical functioning and health in the lives of countless men and women. To name a few, Drs. Meryl Alappattu and Lori Tuttle are striving to improve the level and quality of care in the lives of those affected by pelvic pain, pelvic floor dysfunction, and urinary incontinence.

Dr. Alappattu, PT, DPT, Ph.D., is SOWH director of research and research assistant professor at University of Florida’s Department of Physical Therapy. She received four foundation scholarships to assist her efforts to understand the neurobiological and psychological influences on female pelvic pain and the effects of inter­ventions and rehabilitation.

Today, she is working to help patients struggling with vulvodynia, chronic pain affecting the vulvar area with no identifiable cause.

Dr. Tuttle, PT, Ph.D., is director of Pelvic Health and Rehabilitation Laboratory and assistant professor at San Diego State University School of Exercise and Nutritional Sciences. She focuses on the aging process and women’s health, and is working to understand the role of muscle and other support structures on pelvic floor dysfunction, as well as the role of rehabilitation on the area. Dr. Tuttle also is a four-time foundation scholarship recipient.

Of all of our accomplishments, 2015 and 2016 have been the most fiscally groundbreaking. Not only have we budgeted to award more than $1 million in 2016 for the first time in foundation history, but last year we also awarded our largest grant ever–$2.5 million–to Linda Resnik, Ph.D., of Brown University to establish CoHSTAR, a multi-institutional center dedicated to advancing health services and health policy research in physical therapy.

Through the support and commitment of donors and APTA sections and chapters, the foundation has assembled a cadre of high-quality researchers to forward the important research needed in the physical therapy profession. Together, we will continue to fund and publicize physical therapy research in the hopes of changing the face of healthcare.

To donate to the SOWH fund, please click here

Author: Barbara Connolly, PT, DPT, Ed.D, FAPTA, is president of the Foundation for Physical Therapy. She also is professor emeritus at the University of Tennessee Health Sciences Center, where she chaired the Physical Therapy Department for 24 years. To learn more about the foundation, visit











Scholarships and Peer Recruitment Help Attract Minorities into the Physical Therapy Profession

Posted on: May 23rd, 2016 by Aika Barzhaxynova No Comments

By Kimmi Edwards, DPT

2016 APTA Minority Scholarship winner Kimmi Edwards, DPT, calls for expanded support of minority PT students to diversify the profession.

2016 APTA Minority Scholarship winner Kimmi Edwards, DPT, calls for expanded support of minority PT students to diversify the profession.

Do you have strong feelings about whether minorities are well represented or recruited into the physical therapy (PT) profession?

Physical therapy began as a predominantly woman-dominated profession. Now men are entering at a faster rate than other minority populations in our midst.

However, this historically predominantly white profession has seen only a minute increase of minorities now accepting this profession as a career path.

“Why?” I wondered. When you go into a black society and ask the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”  The answer is often a lawyer, engineer, doctor, or professional athlete.

Rarely do you hear “an occupational therapist,” “a physical therapist,” or even “a speech therapist.”  Society at large is still uneducated about our profession or has any idea how successful, rewarding, and happy our careers are!

Do we as professionals and future professionals do a great job of reaching out to communities and advocating for this profession? What makes these boys and girls want to become a lawyer, doctor, or professional athlete? Is it because they don’t know the PT profession exists?

Possibly. There is certainly a huge gap in student applicants for physical therapy programs when it comes to minorities, which led to my decision to survey Alabama PT schools about minority attendance. I am not from Alabama, but I recently graduated with my Doctorate of Physical Therapy (DPT) from Alabama State University.

As of May 10, 2016, there are four DPT schools in Alabama with 404 physical therapy students, 56 being minorities (13.86%). Taking these numbers into consideration, I question whether other states have similar statistics? What can be done to improve them? More importantly, what can I do about that change?

Thankfully, the profession does offer some opportunities such as American Physical Therapy Association Minority Scholarships that support the success of minorities. Scholarships of this nature can help not only attract future diverse PT students into our field for the extensive good we do for our patients, but also communicate that physical therapy has a welcoming professional culture for minorities.

Current minority PTs, in particular, should continue their tremendous encouragement and recruitment of other minorities. If boys and girls in underserved communities can see and hear firsthand about our profession and its success from minorities they can identify with, more progress can be made toward attracting them to PT career options.

I want to make minority scholarships better known to students by referring them to learn the latest on APTA’s Honors and Awards web section. Students can submit applications or be nominated—as can professors–every September, but PT and physical therapy assistant students must in their final year of PT education.

In 2016, eight PT students and four PTAs students in the United States won scholarships supported by the Minority Scholarship Fund, to which the Section on Women’s Health-APTA recently donated $500. Anyone else interested in donating to the Minority Scholarship Award may contact Johnette Meadows, [email protected].

Together, we all can change the physical therapy profession, particularly in men’s and women’s health, to better reflect the diversity of the patients we serve.

Author: Kimmi Edwards, DPT, is a 2016 APTA Minority Scholarship winner and Section member. She can be reached at 

[email protected]. Note: The statistics above apply only to PT, not PTA, programs in Alabama state universities.



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*NEW* Student Debt: The High Cost to the Physical Therapy Profession

Posted on: May 17th, 2016 by Aika Barzhaxynova No Comments
Through advocacy and scholarships, the SOWH is trying to reduce debtg burden for PT students in women's and men's health.

Through advocacy and scholarships, SOWH is trying to reduce debt burden for PT students in women’s and men’s health.

By Alicia Jeffrey 

As the class of 2016 races to the finish line, excitedly going through graduation and beginning our first jobs as physical therapists, many of us feel the shadow of debt looming close behind.

The “real world” is approaching, and it’s becoming difficult to shake the strange feeling of impending doom that accompanies the thought of student loans. This may sound like gross hyperbole, but more than a few studies link financial stress to poor mental and physical health.

The cost of attending physical therapy school has been skyrocketing, although this trend is not unique. Tuition for graduate and professional programs for all fields has

been rising, too. However, tuition for physical therapy programs has more than tripled in the last 15 years—that should raise concern within the profession.

Students are frequently reminded we’re lucky to be going into a profession with such a stable job outlook, but the debt-to-income ratio for newly graduated physical therapists continues to climb to a point that many of us feel suffocated.

Statistics show that we have reason to feel that way. In the last 15 years, median salaries for physical therapists have increased only 2.6% annually–roughly enough to keep up with inflation—while private school costs have increased 4.6% per year, and public school costs have risen 7.9% per year.

Fortunately, I have no loans from my undergraduate degree, but between three years of DPT tuition and living expenses, I have accumulated over $120,000 in student debt.

Ironically, I have that scary debt total despite choosing to attend the “cheap” in-state school and despite my burning desire as a college senior to experience a further-afield adventure. It’s frightening that even with this financial foresight, my monthly loan payments will easily exceed what I will pay in rent and utilities on a house after graduation.

New graduates are often forced into an impossible situation in which we cannot find the money to make important life purchases. Our stress level is through the roof as we carefully try to avoid any financial mishaps that will throw off our meticulous budgeting. And to make matters worse, we are chastised by the media, which notes our generation is not adequately contributing to the economy by not buying houses and new cars!

In addition, approximately one-third of my graduating class is engaged and is trying to save money for a wedding (on top of loan payments and the typical acquired expenses associated with graduation). Many young professionals are opting for prolonged engagements to save up for a modest wedding. What will happen when these young couples begin having children?

The most common response we receive when expressing our concerns is, “Well, you knew what you were getting into.”

Did we really? As an early 20-something, I was most concerned with finding my passion and making sure that I was going into a rewarding field. Physical therapy felt like the right choice. I was overly optimistic about how quickly I could pay off my loans, and after all, with no significant scholarships to speak of, how hard could it be if everyone else in PT school was going through the same thing?

The problem is that no one has wanted to admit they are struggling with their loan burdens.

We can do better. Physical therapy is one of the most rewarding and fundamental health professions. Changes must be made to help alleviate the cost for students and new graduates in order to keep attracting bright talent into the field of men’s and women‘s health. We cannot continue to prey on the altruistic individuals often drawn to the physical therapy profession.

Are there alternative financial aid programs that could be developed? Perhaps expanded access to assistantships and scholarships in lieu of loans? Professional burnout will continue to worsen if new grads believe they need to take on multiple jobs just to make ends meet.

Put simply: Our profession must take better care of its members–as students, as early-career professionals, and as full-time physical therapists.


 Author: Alicia Jeffrey can be reached at [email protected].





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