UNTHSC program helps increase diversity in physical therapy field

 Joe-Udofio-PT-1
Joe Udofia, first-year physical therapy student

A novel approach to improving diversity in the field of physical therapy is proving successful at the UNT Health Science Center.

Allied Health Pathways, a collaboration between the Health Science Center, the University of North Texas and local community colleges, has already placed almost 50 African American and Hispanic males on a pathway to the doctoral physical therapy program.

Created in September 2012, the program identifies qualified minority male undergraduates and provides them academic intervention, professional development, mentoring, internship opportunities and other assistance.

Fewer than 1 percent of practicing physical therapists are African American and Hispanic men, according to the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs. This diversity gap was deemed a public health crisis by the Center for California Health Workforce Studies.

“In order to achieve excellence and truly serve our community, we must have diversity,” said Clayton Holmes, PT, EdD, and Chair of the Department of Physical therapy. “This program allows us to create an unprecedented support structure that puts these talented students on a direct pathway to a rewarding career in physical therapy.”

The program is funded by a $400,000 grant from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and an $85,000 matching gift from program partner, TruCare Solutions Inc.

M. Jean Keller, Ph.D., UNT professor of kinesiology and the project’s principal investigator, said the lack of diversity among physical therapy professionals may create health disparities among minority populations. Allied Health Pathways also assists students interested in other allied health professions, such as physician assistant studies and occupational therapy.

“This project is designed to close the gaps by increasing the awareness of allied health professionals and the number of male minorities who become licensed physical therapists,” Keller said. “The need was great and, to the best of our knowledge, no program like this exists elsewhere.”

Joe Udofia, a first-year physical therapy student, was the first Allied Health Pathways participant accepted into the physical therapy program this fall. This year, he will mentor a prospective student who currently attends North Lake College. The two men have already met for dinner and exchange text messages frequently.

“There are so many things you need to know — the grades to make, the kind of community service that looks good on an application and extracurricular activities that make you a well-rounded person,” Udofia said. “Hopefully, his journey here can be as smooth as possible.”

Recent News

Techstars Demo Day.
  • On Campus
|Dec 1, 2022

Techstars Demo Day brings innovation to the historic stockyards

For the last 13 weeks, the founders of 10 of the world’s most innovative startups have been in Fort Worth perfecting their new physical health technology. They are part of the world’s first physical health accelerator, and now they are ready to show the fruits of their labor. Techstars Demo D...
Dr. Sid O'bryant Award
  • Our People
|Dec 1, 2022

HSC named the winner of the D Magazines 2022 Achievement in Medical Research Award

The extensive research done by Dr. Sid O’Bryant and his team at the Institute of Translational Research has earned the University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth the 2022 Medical Research Award by D Magazine. Dr. O’Bryant, the executive director of the ITR and a professor at t...
Dr. John Licciardone
  • Our People
|Nov 30, 2022

Key study results from HSC’s PRECISION Pain Research Registry published in JAMA Network Open

The Journal of the American Medical Association – Network Open has published findings from a recent HSC study about chronic lower back pain, race and the patient-physician relationship. The study revealed that Black patients reported worse outcomes for low back pain intensity and back-related d...
Ram flyer
  • Community
|Nov 23, 2022

Free pop-up medical, vision and dental clinic is just a week away

  The University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth and Remote Area Medical – RAM® — a nonprofit provider of pop-up clinics that delivers free quality dental, vision and medical care to those in need — are bringing the free health care clinic to Dallas on Dec. 3 and 4....