READING, Pa. — Penn State Berks and Alvernia University have recently signed a joint agreement centered on Alvernia’s new doctor of physical therapy (DPT) program. According to the agreement, a minimum of five seats in Alvernia’s DPT program are reserved for qualified students graduating from the Penn State Berks bachelor of science in kinesiology degree program. In return, students in Alvernia’s DPT program will gain access to Penn State Berks’ cadaver laboratory for their first-year anatomy course.
The joint agreement went into effect at the beginning of the fall 2015 semester. DPT students are currently using the Penn State Berks cadaver laboratory, and seven former Penn State Berks kinesiology students are currently enrolled in the DPT program.
"This agreement provides an excellent opportunity for Penn State Berks kinesiology students who want to enter a very competitive field, as well as for Alvernia University physical therapy students to utilize a newly-renovated facility close to Alvernia's campus," said Ben Infantolino, coordinator of the kinesiology degree program and assistant professor of kinesiology at the Berks campus.
The Alvernia DPT program is the first program for the education of physical therapists in Berks County. Admission to this doctorate program is highly competitive, and this joint agreement benefits the students of the Penn State Berks Kinesiology degree program who are interested in physical therapy.
Penn State Berks is the only college in Berks County that has a cadaver laboratory. The college opened the lab in 1996. Recent renovations to the college’s Luerssen Building led to the redesign and expansion of the cadaver lab, which was completed this year and made fully operational in time for the fall 2015 semester. The new lab has an expanded area of 900 square feet that can now accommodate up to 30 students. It is the largest cadaver lab in the Penn State system outside Penn State's Hershey Medical Center. The lab is equipped with five dissecting tables, as well as two television screens, which can be hooked up to video cameras to show videos or display images.
"Alvernia's DPT students are truly enjoying the benefit of our collaborative relationship with Penn State Berks," said Christopher Wise, DPT program director at Alvernia University. "The close proximity between Alvernia's newly developed DPT learning space and the cadaver lab at Penn State offers meaningful active-learning experiences. The ability to touch, move and feel each anatomical structure in the context of professional practice principles fosters the program's mission of connecting the classroom to the clinic."
Penn State Berks offers the bachelor of science in kinesiology with an exercise science option. The degree program provides students with an academic background in the science of human movement. The exercise science option has two emphases: business or science. The business emphasis is unique in its coverage of the basic business skills of accounting, marketing, management and entrepreneurship. This emphasis qualifies graduates for careers as fitness instructors, personal trainers, athletic club managers, fitness program directors, and other business-related fields. The science emphasis focuses on kinesiology content and basic science courses such as chemistry, biology, physics and math. The science emphasis prepares graduates for advanced study in physical therapy, chiropractic, kinesiology and medicine.
The mission of the Alvernia DPT program is to pursue academic excellence in preparing the next generation of autonomous physical therapist clinicians. Graduates will be prepared to assume a leadership role in the ever-changing health care environment as doctors of physical therapy who are committed to clinical competence and the application and perpetuation of evidence-based knowledge. Graduates will be prepared to engage in evidence-based clinical care, understand their rights and responsibilities as a member of a doctoring profession, and possess the required knowledge and skill to change the lives of those whom they serve. Consistent with the vision of the American Physical Therapy Association and Alvernia University, the DPT program endeavors to develop graduates who are “ethical leaders with moral courage” and prepared to assume a leadership role in addressing the health-related concerns that society faces.
"This agreement is an excellent example of academic collaboration mutually beneficial for both institutions," said Paul Esqueda, senior associate dean for Academic Affairs at Penn State Berks.