Creighton University Inaugurates Pioneer “Professional” Doctor of Physical Therapy Program.

In June 1992, Creighton University hired Gary L. Soderberg as the director of the first doctor of physical therapy program in the nation. Previously, Soderberg had been the program director of physical therapy education at the State University of New York-Syracuse (Upstate Medical Center) and the University of Iowa. A year later he presented the 27th Mary McMillan Lecture: "On passing from ignorance to knowledge." [Physical Therapy, 1993 (November): 73(11): 797-808.]

By the early 1990s, the profession had evolved significantly and there were two levels of degrees with which a physical therapist could graduate: a four-year bachelor’s degree and a professional master’s degree. While the bachelor’s degree was being offered, by this point more than half of the 148 physical therapist programs then available where at the master’s level.

Talks of developing a doctor of physical therapy (DPT) program began back in 1986, and a broad spectrum of academicians and practitioners were consulted regarding feasibility. Geneva Johnson served as primary consultant, and after two more years of planning, the decision was made to proceed. Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, became the pioneer when it inaugurated its DPT degree in September 1993. Gary Soderberg, director of the physical therapy program at Creighton, was hired as the first director and chair of the new eight-semester professional DPT program.

Three years later, on August 16, 1996, Creighton graduated 47 students with their DPT degrees.

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