Doctorate of Physical Therapy

Eight MSTP students in white coats sitting in front of Case Western Reserve University sign

The CWRU School of Medicine is currently developing a Doctorate of Physical Therapy (DPT) educational program and are actively recruiting a Program Director. This new DPT program will be housed in the new Health Education Campus and take advantage of our innovative educational space focused on leading the way in inter-professional education. 


Our vision is to raise the standard of DPT education through clinical competence, leadership, professionalism, innovation, cultural humility, community outreach and setting the highest standards for faculty, staff and students. Our goal is to create a top DPT program that develops students to be leaders in the physical therapy field in addition to outstanding clinicians.

Why a DPT Program at CWRU?

There are several motivations for developing a DPT program at the CWRU School of Medicine (SOM). The CWRU SOM highly values inter-professional education. Physical therapists are important in the comprehensive and collaborative care teams that are integral to modern clinical care and the best patient outcomes. It is important for physical therapist to train beside physicians, physician assistants, and nurses as it is important for these careers to train with physical therapists. 

We have a lot of amazing research in physical therapy and rehabilitation at CWRU. Both within the SOM and in other parts of the larger University and our affiliates, many are highlighted below. We believe this research focus allows us to train clinicians who strive to better understand the latest knowledge in the field of physical therapy care and, for some, the training to drive that research in their own careers.

One of our goals is once we have a fully accredited DPT program that can also build on our other existing high quality educational programs to have joint DPT/PhD, DPT/MPH, DPT/MS in Nutrition and other joint degrees to allow for leaders in physical therapy research, public health and wellness.

In short, we’d like to bring back the legacy that once was the first and, although short lived, one of the most well-respected professional physical therapy programs in the county, but for the 21st century and beyond. For more on this, APTA members can read this article by L. Don Lekmkul, click here.

DPT as a Profession

Why is DPT important in healthcare? 

Physical therapy enables everyone to live a higher quality life. It reduces healthcare costs and optimizes participation in society. Rather than just treating an illness or sickness, physical therapy treats the symptoms to get everyone back to live healthy lives. According to the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), physical therapists are responsible for “evaluating and managing an individual’s movement system across the lifespan to promote optimal development; diagnose impairments, activity limitations, and participation restrictions; and provide interventions targeted at preventing or ameliorating activity limitations and participation restrictions.” For more on the physical therapy profession, please visit

Why is DPT important in research? 

The importance of physical therapy is clinical care is paralleled by the need for research to provide evidence based physical therapy practice. DPTs often serve as clinician-researchers and conduct their own research. Others DPTs work with researchers in a wide variety of fields, from biomedical engineering to neuroscience to rehabilitation to translate their research into real practice. 

SOM Affiliates

At Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, we provide students with the chance to learn and practice in multiple clinical settings at some of the best teaching hospitals in the region and country. The School of Medicine offers a unique opportunity for educational and research collaboration. Its outstanding basic science scholarship and affiliations with University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center, the Cleveland Clinic, MetroHealth Medical Center, the Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center and other clinical facilities throughout Ohio offer outstanding opportunities for collaborative scholarship and practice. 

DPT Advisory Committee

Member Affiliate
Gary Calabrese, PT, DPT  Cleveland Clinic
Linda Dundon, PT, DPT VA
Bruce Garba, PT, DPT MetroHealth
Jessica Jenkins, PT, DPT UH
Briana Partee, PT, DPT UH
Mary Stilphen, PT, DPT Cleveland Clinic
Anthony Trem, PT, DPT Cleveland Browns
Ronald Triolo, PhD CWRU
Mary Vargo, MD MetroHealth


For more information on our developing DPT program, or to become involved, please reach out to Cheryl Thompson, PhD, Associate Professor and Assistant Dean of Educational Initiatives at