UNTHSC program helps increase diversity in physical therapy field

November 27, 2013

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.”

Hsc Tcom Gold Humanism Society Inductees Fc
TCOM Chapter of the Gold Humanism Honor Society welcomes new inductees 

By Steven Bartolotta The humanistic side of medicine is alive and well at Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine. The TCOM Chapter of the Arnold P Gold Foundation inducted 45 students and four faculty members into the Gold Humanism Honor Society on the campus of The University of North Texas H...Read more

Jun 15, 2021

John Licciardone Hsc Fort Worth Fc
eHealth interventions could help African-American patients in battle with chronic pain

By Steven Bartolotta The PRECISION Pain Research Registry at the University of North Texas Health Science Center in Fort Worth has identified important racial disparities in pain management that became more evident during the COVID-19 pandemic. Its study recently published in the special COVID...Read more

Jun 14, 2021

Diana Cervantes. Assistant Professor Biostatistics & Epidemiology
Dr. Diana Cervantes named among Fort Worth’s ‘most influential’ for public health service during the pandemic

By Sally Crocker Dr. Diana Cervantes has spent the last year keeping people informed and updated on all things coronavirus, and now she’s being recognized as one of Fort Worth Inc.’s “400 Most Influential People” for helping protect the community’s health during the pandemic. Dr....Read more

Jun 8, 2021

Opal Lee photo by Rodger Mallison/Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Commemorating Juneteenth

By Diane Smith-Pinckney On June 19 1865, Major General Gordan Granger marched into Galveston with a critical message: “The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free.”  This was the opening se...Read more

Jun 8, 2021