“Campbell is in a unique position to influence physical therapist retention rates in rural North Carolina and to provide necessary health care access to those in low income regions,” said Gregory Dedrick, founding director of Campbell University’s Doctor of Physical Therapy program.
Gregory Dedrick was a junior music major and saxophone player at the University of North Texas when he hurt his ankle playing basketball. The injury was severe enough that he underwent physical therapy (PT). While being treated as a patient, he found PT fascinating. So much so that he dropped his music major, earned a bachelor’s in kinesiology from the University of North Texas and eventually a master of physical therapy from the University of Texas Medical Branch and a doctor of science in physical therapy (ScD) from Texas Tech University. He practiced PT at the University Medical Center in Lubbock, Texas, from 1997 to 2003, before serving as an associate professor at Texas Tech.
Dedrick joined Campbell University in July 2012 as director of the College of Pharmacy & Health Sciences' new Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program, which began accepting applications this past February for its first class of students anticipated to begin January 2014 (pending accreditation approval). Interviews of prospective students began on March 25, 2013. Four faculty members also have been hired, and three of those started work at Campbell in January. They’re helping prepare documents for the accreditation process and develop curriculum, which is now going through various university channels for approval.
Dedrick spoke with Campbell.edu about the need for physical therapists, the type of students who do well in physical therapy, and his vision for the DPT program at Campbell. The following is an edited transcript.
Why is it important for Campbell to start a DPT program?
There’s an estimate that the need for PT jobs will grow by 39 to 40 percent between 2010 and 2020 on a national level. If you look at North Carolina, the projection is an increase of 30 percent by 2016. North Carolina is one of the fastest growing states by population, but if you look at the number of licensed PTs entering the state, we are ranked No. 38 out of 50. We’re not keeping up with demand.
Campbell is in a unique position to influence physical therapist retention rates in rural North Carolina and to provide necessary health care access to those in rural regions. Harnett County is the 4th fastest growing county in the state and Campbell University is situated in a position to educate and train students within rural counties like Harnett. That’s one of the program objectives: to turn out graduates who are competent and passionate about rural practice opportunities. With the addition of the osteopathic medicine and physician assistant programs, a real opportunity exists to incorporate inter-professional learning experiences within the physical therapy program.
You mentioned that Campbell “is in a unique position.” How so?
You have six DPT programs in the state already, and you have three new ones trying to start. The Allied Health Job Vacancy Tracking Report March 2012 said the “demand is highest in urban areas where several of North Carolina’s largest health systems are located, but that rural areas continue to experience difficulty recruiting health professionals and that the rural areas lack educational programs that can train health care professionals.” If you look at the programs in North Carolina, they are right there in the greater Raleigh or Greensboro areas. We at Campbell are uniquely qualified to provide that training for rural areas.
Yes, we can help in the more urban areas, but we’re very focused on getting better health care out to rural communities. We can help turnaround a cohort of students who will be professionals and work in rural areas of North Carolina.
What type of students are you looking for?
Self-driven, motivated students who have demonstrated the ability to multi-task and who have the ability to see more than what is going on than just what is in front of them. Do they get involved in community services, leadership activities, health service organizations? Are they involved in numerous things? Are they juggling more than just school? Are they working? Taking care of a sick relative? That will give you a great foundation for success in life. It teaches you time management and how to order your life in factors of importance.
Why were you drawn to physical therapy?
I think it was the personal connection. The one advantage that health professions like physical therapy have over medicine and nursing is the fact that we see people more frequently. You’ll go in and see your physicians or nurses one time, and you may follow up with them a month or two later or six weeks later. You’ll see a physical therapist two to three times a week, and not just for 10 or 15 minutes at a time. Most of the time, you’re there for 45 minutes to an hour.
For me, I was getting to know the different patients and getting to know their story. A successful rehab is not just what we do, it’s the follow through and the transforming of that patient -- to get them to buy into what you’re selling so they can continue to be healthy in the future.
Why were you interested in directing and implementing Campbell’s new DPT program?
It was an opportunity to build a program from scratch and to integrate different learning opportunities across different health professions. It’s going to be a collaborative effort with faculty to build a great program. But the opportunity to lead and build something that will leave a lasting impression on the local community is really unique.
What did you learn during your time as a practitioner and as a graduate student that you hope students who pass through Campbell’s DPT program will learn?
“Like” the Campbell University’s Doctor of Physical Therapy Program (DPT) page on Facebook to keep up with updates about the new program. And, look for profiles of the new DPT faculty in upcoming campus publications.
To listen. “Talk less, listen more.” It’s really about a good interviewing process and asking open-ended questions. We need to teach those interviewing skills as well as listening skills and looking at non-verbal cues -- and putting it all together. Listening is a huge, huge deal when dealing with patients. Listen to their story, and nine times out of 10 they will tell you what is wrong with them.
How do you teach that to students?
Utilizing the “flipped” classroom -- providing students the background information ahead of time allows more experiential aspects in the classroom instead of traditional lecture. You can bring in actors or patients; students can go to clinics and practice interviewing skills. One of my past assignments has been for students to meet 10 random people they don’t know and talk to them in an attempt to glean as much information as possible in a short time. Unless you’re comfortable talking to people, it’s going to be very difficult for you to be successful in physical therapy practice.
Read more Campbell Proud profiles »
Editor’s note: Adapted from a Q&A with Gregory Dedrick published on Campbell.edu in late August 2012.
Interview conducted by and edited by Cherry Crayton, Digital Content Coordinator
Photos by Bennett Scarborough