As part of its Charting the Future initiative, Lilly Endowment Inc. has made a $1 million grant to help Manchester University launch a doctor of physical therapy program.

The doctoral program in physical therapy will serve as Manchester’s signature program in the rehabilitation sciences, said President Dave McFadden.

Lilly Endowment’s $1 million grant allows Manchester the start-up funds to begin immediately hiring faculty and staff, as well as buying any equipment needed, to pursue accreditation. The program will be based at Manchester’s Fort Wayne campus.

The program will focus on interprofessional collaborations as a routine part of student formation and education. Manchester already has clinical rotation partnerships with health care providers in the northeastern Indiana region through its pharmacy program. There also will be opportunities for student research and service.

Physical therapists develop and implement personalized plans of care that address their patients’ unique needs for improving the ability to move and engage in daily activities, reducing pain, or slowing functional decline. Care is provided in a variety of settings, including acute-care hospitals, outpatient hospital-based and private practices, rehabilitation facilities, retirement communities, home health agencies, schools, and sports and fitness venues. At Manchester, they will learn to work side by side with health care providers in other disciplines with the goal of serving the whole patient.

“The diversity of practice areas and clientele, access to job opportunities, practice autonomy, and professional growth opportunities make physical therapy an attractive profession,” said Lea Johnson, vice president for health science initiatives at Manchester. She leads the team developing this program.

Manchester currently offers an undergraduate degree, clinical and rehabilitation sciences, that prepares students for graduate study in physical therapy and other related areas.

“The addition of a doctoral program in physical therapy will build upon Manchester’s success in the health professions that began in 2012 with our Pharmacy Program and state-of-the-art building in Fort Wayne,” McFadden said. “They were funded through a $35 million grant from Lilly Endowment that helped the University to create a space where health science professionals can learn and grow together.”

Manchester’s next step was to establish the first pharmacogenomics master’s degree program in the nation in 2016, followed in 2018 by a dual degree in pharmacy and pharmacogenomics. Manchester also recently expanded its graduate program in athletic training.

The university is moving forward with plans to launch a bachelor’s program in nursing and a master’s program in nutrition and nutrigenomics.

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