Physical therapy

One hundred percent of Concordia University Wisconsin’s Class of 2018 physical therapy students passed their national licensure examination on their first try—an eight-point difference from the national average.

The university received the results of the national physical therapy exam (NPTE) earlier this week. On average, physical therapy students nationwide achieved a 92.3 percent first-time pass rate and scored 673.9 out of 800 on the NPTE. Concordia’s most recent graduates achieved an average score of 700.6.

“At Concordia, we prioritize preparing students in ‘mind, body, and spirit,’ and so attention is paid to students’ development in all areas,” says Bob Barnhart, PT, MS, ScDPT, director of the physical therapy program at CUW. “What’s exciting about these results is they solidify that we can and are accomplishing this mission without sacrificing excellence in our academic pursuits.”

Concordia’s physical therapy program has a strong reputation of students passing the exam on their first go around. Since 2014, four out of five graduating classes achieved a 100 percent first-time pass rate.

Last year, only 19 out of 229 programs nationwide achieved a 100-percent first-time pass rate. Concordia’s Class of 2017 achieved a 96 percent pass rate on their first try.

The NPTE is designed to assess students’ basic entry-level competence after graduation from an accredited program. While the NPTE is only one part of the evaluation process used by licensing authorities to assess students’ competence, it is a significant step in the process, says Barnhart.

Concordia’s physical therapy program boasts an interprofessional-friendly learning environment and emphasizes hands-on patient care beginning in students’ first year.

This academic year the program has newly partnered with two new community-based clinic sites to offer students relevant learning opportunities that also benefit others. Within the first weeks of the semester, students will begin to travel to Grafton to perform clinical rotations at Portal, Inc., a nonprofit organization that serves adults and youth with developmental disabilities. Concordia has also partnered with Granville Lutheran, a LUMIN school in Milwaukee, to offer services there.

Concordia offers a bachelor’s and master’s degree in rehabilitation science, as well as a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree.

Learn more about Concordia’s physical therapy program here.

— This story is written by Kali Thiel, director of university communications for Concordia University Wisconsin and Ann Arbor. She may be reached at or 262-243-2149.

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