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DPT class of 2026 and Dr. Lockwood

USF Health officially welcomes newest DPT students

The School of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Sciences at the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine officially welcomed the 53 doctor of physical therapy students representing the class of 2026 during their Commitment to the Profession Ceremony April 5 at the USF Marshall Student Center.

douglas haladay

Douglas Haladay, PT, DPT, PhD, MHS, professor and director of the School of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Sciences at the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine, and associate dean of MCOM. 

Douglas Haladay, PT, DPT, PhD, MHS, professor and director of SPTRS, and associate dean of MCOM, opened the event by welcoming the families and friends, and thanking the SPTRS staff and faculty for organizing the event.

Dr. Haladay introduced Charles J. Lockwood, MD, MHCM, executive vice president of USF Health and dean of the Morsani College of Medicine, who gave his remarks to the students about what it means to wear the white coat and be a health care student.

“The white coat confers a unique privilege, but carries special burdens,” Dr. Lockwood said. “If you remain devoted to continually protecting your craft through lifelong learning, displaying compassion to every patient you care for, and making a difference in your community as well, I have no doubt you’ll be overwhelmingly successful.”

Mary Beth Holmes, PT, DPT, NCS, PhD, assistant professor and co-director of clinical education at Boston University, served as ceremony keynote speaker.  She emphasized the prevalence of burnout in the health care field, how taking care of patients starts with taking care of themselves first, and the value of human connection on the path to better mental and physical health.

mary beth holmes

Mary Beth Holmes, PT, DPT, NCS, PhD, assistant professor and co-director of clinical education at Boston University.

“We as physical therapists occupy a privileged position within the health care landscape.  Our hands-on approach, our time we’re allotted to spend with patients allow us a unique window into the lives we serve,” said Dr. Holmes.

Following a brief awards and scholarships presentation, students were called to the stage individually by Aimee Klein, PT, DPT, DSc, assistant school director and program director of the orthopedic residency at SPTRS, to receive their first white coats.  Senior DPT students escorted the students on stage for faculty mentor to put their first white coats over their shoulders.

Andrew Carvill, DPT class of 2024, spoke to the first-year students after they recited their oath.  He offered advice to the students that helped him through his time at SPTRS.

“Give yourself some grace. Be proud of what you’ve accomplished.  You’re working tremendously hard for your dreams and for that, this day is well deserved,” said Carvill to the students.

SPTRS has seen a steady increase in applications.  The program has had a 72% increase in qualified applicants, which has contributed to the program performing higher than the national average in graduate record examination (GRE) scores, and grade point average.


Facts about the Class of 2026:

-              Average GPA: 3.7

-              Average age: 22

-              Top undergraduate majors: health science, kinesiology, physiology, biomedical science

Awards and scholarships presented during the ceremony:

-              Shirley Smith, director of the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine Office of Student and Community Engagement, received the Spirit of Interprofessionalism Award, presented to an individual who has promoted the role of physical therapists in the collaborative health care team withing the academic, clinical, or research programs of USF Health.

-              Whitney Herd, DPT class of 2025, received the Dr. Gregory Nicolosi Professionalism Award.  Herd was selected by her classmates as one who has consistently demonstrated the APTA core values.

-              Nicole Lukinbeal, DPT class of 2024, received the Johnene M. Vorholy Memorial Scholarship.  The Vorholy scholarship is named after the class of 2001 alumnus who was known for her compassionate care for her patients and students.

-              Hayden Euper, DPT class of 2024, received the Future Professional Scholarship.  This scholarship is a merit-based award present to second- or third-year students who embody the APTA core values and has demonstrated the skills and professionalism to become a future professional clinician.

-              Richard Aley, DPT class of 2024, received the CORA Scholarship, This scholarship is presented to a student on behalf of CORA Health Services Inc, based on academic rank and interest in orthopedic physical therapy.

-              Emily Gober, DPT class of 2026, received the Tom A. Tiedemann SPTRS Circle of Motion Scholarship based on academic performance.

-              Hamidah Figuero, DPT class of 2026 received the Laura Lee “Dolly” Swisher Scholarship.  This scholarship, named after former SPTRS director who served 21 years at the school and USF Health.  The scholarship supports students from diverse backgrounds including, but not limited to, race, color, ethnicity, language, nationality, sexual orientation, religion and socioeconomic status.

-              Advent Health Orlando received the Un-BULL-ievable Award.  This award recognized clinical and community partners for their continued support of the school by taking on additional students for clinical education.  Carlos Perez Rivera, was on hand to receive the award of behalf of his organization.  

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USF Health News highlights the great work of the faculty, staff and students across the four health colleges – Morsani College of Medicine, College of Public Health, College of Nursing and Taneja College of Pharmacy – and the multispecialty physicians group. USF Health, an integral part of the University of South Florida, integrates research, education and health care to reach our shared value - making life better.