Out of 239 physical therapy programs across the country, the University of Indianapolis’s physical therapy program ranked 42nd nationally in U.S. News & World Report’s annual graduate school rankings last month. In addition, UIndy’s occupational therapy program ranked 29th out of 198 occupational therapy programs across the country, according to the U.S. News & World Report.
These rankings are based solely on the results of peer assessment surveys. This means that academic programs rate other academic programs based on reputation, according to Dean of the College of Health Sciences and Professor of Physical Therapy Stephanie Kelly.
“In my mind, it really represents the outstanding work our faculty do in the areas of research and also their professional involvement,” Kelly said. “This would be for both programs with their professional associations. It means that people at other institutions see their work, whether it’s research work, whether it’s sharing outstanding teaching methodologies, whether it’s work on a national committee, they see their work and think highly of it and link that back to our institution.”
Three schools, the University of Delaware, the University of Pittsburgh and Washington University in St. Louis came in first place in the physical therapy rankings, according to Stephanie Miller, chair of Krannert School of Physical Therapy, Doctor of Physical Therapy program director and professor of physical therapy. She said she was thrilled when she heard about the physical therapy program’s ranking.
“We feel like we have a great program and we are confident in our program,” Miller said. “We feel like our graduates represent some of the best physical therapists there are. But that’s a lot of programs. And while UIndy is a great university, there are some strong physical therapy programs nationwide and so you never know how it’s going to turn out. So, we were really pleased to see that and, I mean, that’s voted on by primarily peer institutions. And just to be viewed in that way by other institutions is certainly uplifting for us.”
Kate DeCleene Huber, associate dean of the College of Health Sciences, chair of the School of Occupational Therapy and associate professor of occupational therapy said she was excited about UIndy’s occupational therapy program ranking 29th. She believes that this ranking means that the program is becoming more nationally recognized as a leader in occupational therapy.
“I think it shows that our students are graduating with skills to become leaders in the profession and outstanding occupational therapists,” DeCleene Huber said. “I think in the past, our rankings may have been more regionally recognized, but we’re really becoming a national leader both through our students and their experiences, but also through our faculty and much of the research that they’re doing as well.”
The Community Patient Resource Group, or CPRG, is a program offered by both physical therapy and occupational therapy. According to Kelly, individuals volunteer to come into the classroom and be patients for the students. Many of the individuals are living with disabilities, but healthy individuals, such as adults with arthritis, come in as well, according to Kelly. In addition, many of these individuals, according to Kelly, are former patients who had been through physical or occupational therapy.
“We started this to enhance the education of our students, to give them those hands-on experiences,” Kelly said. “But what’s ended up happening is it does that, plus these are people who we, we as faculty, have developed a really strong relationship with. For many of these individuals, it provides a lot of meaning for them to be a part of student education.”
Kelly said that since the ranking is based on reputation, she is not sure how much other institutions know about the CPRG. However, she believes that the CPRG does reflect UIndy’s creativity and commitment to high-quality education, which she believes is recognized by other institutions.
“I certainly don’t think it hurts and I just think it’s part of our philosophy and culture of partnership and creative, innovative education that’s part of both programs,” Kelly said.
DeCleene Huber hopes that this ranking will shine a light on UIndy for its programs, therapists and future students considering occupational therapy programs. Miller hopes that this ranking will continue the strong reputation the physical therapy program has in training physical therapists.
“We’ve always been recognized as a strong program and I think that this is just a testament to the continuation of the strong reputation that we have in training physical therapists,” Miller said. “I hope that we continue to be seen in that light and that as we continue to build on that success that we’re seeing, maybe we’ll have an even higher ranking next time around.”