SHP Department Chair’s Message

Michael Furtado

4PT, DPT, EdD, Board Certified Neurologic Clinical Specialist

HSC Start Date: March 2023

Years in Academia: 13+

Role at HSC: Chair of the Department of the Physical Therapy, with associate professor faculty appointment, teaching in Practice Management and Leadership, Capstone and supporting Neurological curriculum thread

Research Interests: Working on studies assessing sleep assessing sleep and academic performance, belongingness of PT students in clinical education, the lived experiences of people with spinal cord injury, spiritual health in PT students, and factors that predict success in a hybrid DPT program.

Fun Fact: I am a first-generation American and college graduate who can speak four languages fluently.

Chair's Message

13There is an old saying about Fort Worth that says “– but through warmth and generosity, Fort Worth will forever be ‘Where the West Begins.’” As my family and I considered a move from Houston to Fort Worth, many people told us that Fort Worth would feel warm (not just temperature wise), but because the people would be generous, and that the city would have a bit of a Wild West vibe. All things have come true! In March of 2023, I began my tenure as chair of the Department of Physical Therapy at The University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth. I am full of gratitude for the warm and generous welcome these past eight months as Fort Worth has lived up to its saying, and HSC has been an absolute joy to be a part of!

Upon my arrival, I was most blown away by the people and culture in the department. The faculty is comprised of individuals who all work hard, rarely complain, and strive to be the best version of themselves personally and professionally. The staff consists of women who are caring, nurturing and always putting the needs of others before themselves. The student body is a diverse group of students from all walks of life with meaningful lived experiences who impress me day in and day out. The alumni base is filled with incredibly successful humans who have become leaders in the world of clinical practice, business and education. The transition into the role of leader of this department could not have been any smoother and I want to thank everyone for that, from the administration to the various departments across campus, to the Dean’s Office, and to everyone in the Department of Physical Therapy. It is my pleasure to have the opportunity to cultivate experiences, opportunities and culture for our department. My family, the Furtado Five, has taken well to the metroplex, and we have loved every minute of our new home!

6First and foremost, it was evident from all stakeholder feedback that the curriculum needed an upgrade. After several meetings with students and faculty and an assessment of PT curricula across the country, the department was able to roll out a new curriculum in May, ready for the new cohort to undertake in July. Nearly 60% of the classes in the curriculum were renamed to reflect the contemporary practice of a physical therapist more accurately. After these changes were made, I challenged our team to consider how to best support the transition of students from undergraduate to graduate school, which is a research interest of mine. We came up with a re-sequencing of the curriculum, which helps students onboard with more of a ramp-up and aligns content to better scaffold and integrate across the semester. We are one semester in, and so far so good! We will continue to assess the outcomes and evaluate the success of our curriculum.

At our first of two faculty retreats this year, we also put our brains together to create a signature pedagogy for our curriculum. You will find it written on the back cover of this newsletter. We use this as a communication tool with incoming and current students, but also as dialogue for each other as we consider how to best produce contemporary PTs who are master adaptive learners and ready to manage the Whole Health of not only themselves, but also their patients! We hope that everything we do will center around our mission, our program goals and this signature pedagogy.

The DPT students at HSC are some of the brightest and most compassionate humans I have encountered in my 13+ years in academia. I briefly met members of the DPT Class of 2023 when I started in my role, and they wrapped up their DPT journeys. I was able to attend their graduate banquet at the Fort Worth Club and their commencement ceremony at Dickies Arena, and it was apparent to me from the beginning that this group would go on to “create solutions for a healthier community.” Congratulations to the DPT Class of 2023! Our time was short, your time was long (including a pandemic), and it has been an honor to watch you become licensed and start your post-professional journeys! The DPT Class of 2024 is such a diverse group of powerhouse rockstars – students who are awarded scholarships at the local state and national level, bring smiles and laughter to almost everything they do, and show their bright light day in and day out. I will never forget their welcome as I became chair. They accepted me, believed in me and immediately took to my ideas. Together, we have implemented activities such as building a private practice, writing a leadership blog, applying for a mock residency or job, all culminating with a portfolio and presentation. I am most excited to see them finish up their journey – doctors incoming in 2024! The DPT Class of 2025 was the first class to receive a class word, something to embody their cohort and give them some inspiration during their time as a student. This class is our “mindful” group, and I have loved to see them develop their mindfulness for themselves, their patients and each other. This group was the 2022 PT champion of flag football but unfortunately did lose this year to their underclassmen. They were gracious in defeat and embodied what it meant to let go and have fun. We are excited for them to wrap up their first rotation and complete their didactic education in 2024! Finally, our DPT Class of 2026 came in hot in July (literally) and haven’t cooled off since. This is our “joy” group, and they have taken to the new curriculum with such positivity and acceptance, which has made the overall engagement and satisfaction of the department increase. Our new curriculum has afforded them some room to develop more of their humanities skills, and they have been engaged in new endeavors like our first-ever art night, where they created expressions of art based on their interview with someone with a disability.

We are excited to see this group develop in our new curriculum and to support their academic journeys! Please enjoy our student highlights in the newsletter. I am so proud of these and all our students.

In this year, our department increased our research publications (from seven to 12), our research presentations (from 10 to 30) and our commitment to research.

22We have manuscripts in preparation or in submission under review. We have improved our student scholarly activity project to be a more rigorous and defined research question process. We have a new biomechanics research lab space at our HSC Physical Health clinic, and we are seeking to engage in applying for extramural grant funding and collaborations across the institution and beyond in 2024! This increase in research activity is important, not just for our department, but for society as we seek to answer questions to improve the lives of others!

Speak of our HSC Physical Health clinic, I hope you read the piece written by Dr. Quiben in this newsletter. We opened the doors to this space down the road on Camp Bowie Boulevard in March (my second day on the job) and have since begun admitting pro bono patients to our service line. Several faculty members are now engaged in clinical practice at this space with a weekly schedule. We are looking forward to increasing the programming here, engaging our community partners and students more consistently, and using the space to supplement our learning which occurs in the classroom, in the amazing HSC Regional Simulation Center or through interprofessional practice. Join us in promoting this incredible space and expanding our opportunities in the community.

Another major milestone in 2023, and perhaps my favorite, was the 10-year anniversary of the program producing DPT graduates into the workforce! Throughout the year we highlighted faculty, staff, students, alumni, and clinical site partners, and recognized everyone for their efforts. No matter big or small, if you have had a contribution since 2013 in this program, thank you! I hope you enjoy the story in this newsletter honoring our culminating event, which was the DPT 10 Fall Festival. This day will forever be a core memory of mine. We honored Benjamin Sergeant (DPT Class of 2014) and his family with a new award that will honor the contributions of our alumni every year. We celebrated the feat of this program for the last decade, and we kicked off another decade with a huge celebration! I look forward to meeting up with alumni, so please reach out so I can get to know everyone who walked the campus in this program. Congratulations to everyone for 10, and cheers to 10 more!

I would be remiss not to highlight our faculty and staff. We have welcomed a ton of new faces in 2023. They are highlighted in this newsletter. This group is the best group of faculty I have encountered in my time in academia. They answer my requests quickly. They believed in my leadership, and together we are a high-functioning unit! Our recent Gallup employee engagement scores returned, and our department scored in the 93rd percentile, an increase from the 12th percentile one short year ago. Kudos to Dr. Kapila and Dr. Brummett for finishing terminal degrees this year, and thank you to all of our expanded associated and adjunct faculty for all that you do for our program! We did say goodbye to Dr. Carling Butler and soon Dr. Lee Atkins, who were mainstays and fan favorites in our department. I want to thank them and all the faculty and staff for their efforts in running this department successfully. The year 2024 looks to promise even more exciting growth, opportunity and development for our department.

There is so much to look forward to in 2024. I am of the belief that “the best is yet to come.” In 2024, we will expand our successes in research, in our pro bono clinic, in simulated and interprofessional education, in community and global engagement, in service, in clinical education and, of course, in our department. The big news is that we are planning a move from the Medical Education & Training building to our Interdisciplinary Research & Education building. Our student classes will now be in IREB, joining the faculty members who office out of this space. The new space has lots of windows, is impressive in its look and capacities, and will propel our department into the next decade of our program. We are excited to be moved (and I think it is OK to say we are Dreading the actual move too; this will be my second big move in six months!).

5Other big news is that we are seeking opportunities to expand the offerings of our department – more to come on that front. Keep up with us on our social media channels. We are now more active than ever, and we are constantly highlighting our students, staff and faculty. Please share with your peers, colleagues, family and friends. If you feel so inclined to donate to our scholarship fund, there is a QR code in this newsletter. If you feel so inclined to be a donor, you want to be a clinical site, you just want to say hi, please reach out. My contact is below.

We cannot wait to have you along for the ride of 2024 in our department! Thank you to everyone for making HSC a special place to educate. From ours to yours, have a wonderful holiday season and a happy new year!


Michael Furtado, PT, DPT, EdD, Board Certified Neurologic Clinical Specialist
Chair and Associate Professor, Department of Physical Therapy
School of Health Professions, University of North Texas Health Science Center 817-735-2948