The first students in the newest degree program at the School of Allied Health Professions (SAHP), a PhD in Rehabilitation Science, started their coursework virtually on August 17. This inaugural class is comprised of four students – Stephanie Currie, Jillian Danzy, Damian Duhon and Erin McAllister.
The PhD in Rehabilitation Sciences was approved earlier this year by the Louisiana Board of Regents and the LSU Board of Supervisors in response to the rising need for allied health faculty and providers in clinical, research and academic settings. The need for doctoral level Rehabilitation Sciences faculty is increasing as demands across the disciplines of Occupational Therapy (OT), Physical Therapy (PT), Speech-Language Pathology (SLP), Physician Assistant (PA), Respiratory Therapy (RT), and Medical Laboratory Scientist escalates.
“This semester marks a special beginning for our School of Allied Health Professions as the inaugural class of PhD students in Rehabilitation Sciences are beginning their academic and scientific journey. We are proud of the core faculty of this program for bringing this advanced degree from concept to reality, and we look forward to collaborative opportunities, innovation, and the enhanced research capacity this program will help to establish. Graduates of this program will fill a critical need for doctorally prepared faculty in the Rehabilitation Sciences (Communication Disorders, Occupational Therapy, and Physical Therapy) and they will contribute to a growing body of evidence supporting these professions. This addition proves that the School of Allied Health Professions is not only surviving COVID-19, but we are growing and thriving in spite of the pandemic. I am confident the expansion of educational opportunities at the SAHP will continue,” stated Dr. Sharon Dunn, Dean of the School of Allied Health Professions.
Survey data revealed that the greater Southern region which includes Arkansas, Mississippi and Tennessee currently do not have such a program. While there are regional programs that exist for PhD’s in physical therapy, biomechanics, and exercise science, a PhD in rehabilitation sciences prepares researchers, educators, and leaders to contribute to the development of rehabilitation practice, research, and policy.