Welcome everyone to the Spring DPT Newsletter. The spring semester is racing to a close and students in the class of 2021 are wrapping up their final semester with us as I write. Much has happened since the Fall and I would like to reflect on the past few months with you.
We’ve lived with COVID-19 for a little over a year now, and things are starting to slowly return as they were pre-pandemic. As we prepare for the full return of students to campus by the end of Summer B, I wanted to give a heartfelt thank you to everyone who worked to assist with the UF Health Screen, Test & Protect initiative – testing and vaccinating thousands of people every day. Without your hard work and dedication, we would not have made this type of progress slowing the spread of the virus.
I am fortunate to work with dedicated faculty, staff, clinical partners, and graduate assistants, who continuously work to prepare students for clinical practice through virtual lectures, hy-flex labs, COVID screenings and temperature checks. The classes of 2021 and 2022 made it to their clinical experiences, and the final Professional Issues, Health, Promotion, and Wellness, and Evidence Based Practice projects for class of 2021 were completed entirely through virtual means. The class of 2023, who hasn’t known the PT program any other way, survived two semesters of foundational coursework, and is ready to meet each other in groups larger than 12 people. We couldn’t have managed all this without the flexibility and hard work from our partners and team members.
The Doctor of Physical Therapy class of 2021 endured many stressful challenges and obstacles since last spring (cancelled clinical experiences and rapid changes in course plans and schedules, to name a few!), yet stayed on course to graduation. I am proud of their resilience and honored to celebrate all of their achievements at convocation with a special “thank you” to Dr. Greg Hicks, Professor and Associate Vice President for Clinical & Translational Research at the University of Delaware, who is our Barbara White Award speaker this year.
Congratulations go to one of UF PT’s very own alumni, Melissa Cere, PT, DPT, MPT class of 2002, and her husband, Tony Cere, PT, DPT, MSE, for joining the University of Florida’s Gator100 for the second time. Kinetix Physical Therapy, a private practice owned by the Ceres, is one of the world’s 100 fastest-growing, Gator-owned businesses for 2021. You can read more about their recognition in this edition. Congratulations, Melissa and Tony.
Our department continues to work to answer calls for justice and equality for people from backgrounds traditionally marginalized in our department, the university, the larger Gainesville area, and the PT profession. The six Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Accessibility (IDEA) workgroups developed recommendations for substantive, tangible changes across our departmental operations with early changes implemented in admissions, recruiting, and faculty and staff training. Additionally, with your help, we raised nearly $8,000 on Gator Nation Giving Day to fund scholarships for students from diverse backgrounds.
I am proud of the adaptability, resilience, and hard work of our entire student body, staff, and faculty, and the flexibility and enthusiasm of our clinical partners to collaborate with us moving forward. We thank you, our alumni and friends, for your continued support of our program and our students.