The new Doctor of Physical Therapy director shares his vision for the program
by Jeremy Lloyd
During his time as a researcher at Nike, Tyler Cuddeford used his knowledge of physical therapy and biomechanics to develop footwear that would keep the company’s world-famous athletes injury-free and flying high. These days, he’s working on getting an entire program off the ground. The director of George Fox’s new Doctor of Physical Therapy program, Cuddeford doesn’t wear running shoes to work anymore, but he still has to be quick on his feet, whether it’s hiring new professors, reviewing student applications or keeping abreast of an 18,000-square-foot construction zone that by the fall of 2012 will morph into a state-of-the-art facility – home to the only PT program on a Christian campus in the Northwest.
Recently we caught up with Cuddeford to get an update on the construction efforts and hear about his vision for the program.
You’re still in the construction phase, but can you run down a few of the highlights of the physical therapy facilities once they are finished?
The facilities are really going to be among the top in the country. We’ve been fortunate to have enough space for four very large classrooms and 120 students when the program is fully developed. I’m also really excited about our research labs – the exercise physiology lab, the motor control lab, the biomechanics lab. These will be a great resource not only for our faculty to do research, but for our students to be involved in the research process
How will the Doctor of Physical Therapy program integrate the university’s dedication to service?
A significant part of our program is going to be related to service. So we’ll be asking, “What is our role out there in the community as physical therapists?” There will be a lot of avenues for students to interact with the local community, whether it be a health fair, a children’s health day or volunteering at nearby nursing homes or retirement centers. We’re also going to have a small physical therapy clinic within our facility where community members can come and receive free treatment, and then even beyond that we want a large service component internationally.
As the only Christian university in the Northwest with a PT program, how will George Fox be different?
There’s content that’s specific to being a physical therapist that we have to teach, so in many ways the curriculum will be similar to many of the other top programs. What makes George Fox different is that all our professors here are strong professing Christians. That influences how you teach and the way you interact with others, and I think that will be beneficial for our students.
What kind of job opportunities can students expect when they complete the program?
The profession is projected to grow 30 percent faster than the average, so the prospects are very positive. If you look geographically, the closest school north is in the Seattle area, and the closest school south is in the Sacramento area; that leaves a large geographic area with us and only one other school that offers physical therapy. Certain positions in Providence, for example, haven’t been filled for a year. That’s encouraging for us, and a really positive sign for our incoming students.
What was your biggest concern when you first started this process?
Because this is a developing program and it takes nearly four years to earn accreditation, at first I was worried a bit about the quality of students that we might get. But after looking at the applications I’m not worried at all. And what I get from talking with students is they’re choosing George Fox as their first choice for a PT school. I think that’s a big deal. It speaks highly of the program already, it speaks highly of the university, and it sounds like students are confident in how the program is going to look two, three, four years from now.
To learn more about the Doctor of Physical Therapy program,