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Written by Tina Dale, Published by talkbusiness.net

Arkansas College for Health Education (ACHE) will begin accepting applications for its school of physical therapy July 1. The three-year program will focus on hands-on, clinical experience with students graduating with a doctor of physical therapy (DPT) degree.

The first class of 40 students is anticipated to begin the program June 1, 2021. It will be the first class in the new 66,000-square-foot College of Health Science building on the campus that will be the home to physical therapy, occupational therapy, and physician assistant degree programs. When the occupational therapy and physician assistant programs will begin has not been announced.

“This is one more move to fulfill our mission of training competent and compassionate healthcare professionals. This program will train top-quality physical therapists, which are in growing demand due to our aging population,” said ACHE CEO Kyle Parker.

Students in the program will begin to work in direct patient care under faculty supervision as early as the second semester, said Dr. Teressa Brown, dean of the school of physical therapy. More than 50 clinical rotation sites have been established in Arkansas and Oklahoma to serve as residency locations for the students.

“By the time they go into their full-time, off-site clinical residency, ACHE PT students will already have six semesters and 100 hours of direct patient experience,” she said.

The college submitted an application for candidacy on June 1 with the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy, which oversees the accreditation of the new program. A site visit on the accreditation is expected in late July. The program will include 12 full-time professors and a variety of local clinicians who will work as lab instructors.

“Our students will experience cutting-edge technology and interactive lectures and learning environments taught by an outstanding faculty,” Brown said. “Our faculty come from all over the United States and bring with them years of acclaimed experience.”

ACHE is a private, non-profit institution located in Chaffee Crossing. The first class of students at ARCOM started in August 2017.

The institution held its first graduation ceremony virtually on May 15 with 40 students graduating from the master program in biomedicine that began in July 2019 at ACHE. Of those 40, 16 were accepted to the Arkansas College of Osteopathic Medicine Class of 2024.

Like instructions across the country, ACHE stopped holding classes on campus in March because of the COVID-19 pandemic. ACHE formed a COVID-19 Task Force in March to monitor the coronavirus outbreak and to prepare the campus for the safe return of our faculty and staff on June 1, said Susan Devero, executive director of communications and community relations at ACHE. The task force continues to monitor daily and meet weekly to prepare for the safe return of students to campus this fall.

“All of our employees and students are returning to campus for in-person instruction under a planned approach with their safety as our top priority. Screenings at the entrances, mandatory wearing of face masks for all persons, additional hand sanitizer stations, and frequent disinfecting of the facilities have been added to ensure responsible protection from the virus.  The ACHE COVID-19 Task Force will continue response protocols that may need to be adjusted in response to the ever-changing pandemic,” Devero said.