North Texas Daily

Allied health awareness program to be continued

Allied health awareness program to be continued

Allied health awareness program to be continued
November 11
00:07 2014

Steven James / Staff Writer

program in the College of Education recently received a grant to continue developing a program that increases the number of minority males in allied health professions.

The $109,000 grant is from from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.

The program, Allied Health Pathways, was created in December 2012 after kinesiology, health promotion and recreational studies professor Jean Keller and some of her colleagues noticed Black and Hispanic males made up less than 1 percent of the physical therapy field.

Program coordinator Rebecca Thomas said even though minority men are in low numbers in many allied health professions, the main point of the program is to get participants to complete a doctorate in physical therapy, either at the Health Science Center in Fort Worth, or at one of the other physical therapy schools in Texas.

The program is a cooperation with the Health Science Center in Fort Worth, Tarrant County Community College District, TruCare Solutions, Seniors in Motion and North Lake College.

Thomas said the main explanation for the low numbers is awareness minority males have of the profession. She also said minority women are in higher numbers than men, and this is one of the first programs in Texas to just focus on men.

“Ask in high schools what a physical therapist is, as to what the profession does, and students just don’t think about it,” Thomas said.

She also said the program is raising awareness by giving presentations at high schools and at the partner schools, getting participants not yet working on their doctorates to meet current physical therapy students at the Health Science Center and holding career fairs. She said almost 90 men have joined the program since 2012.

She said the majority of the grant will be spent on holding events to help raise awareness with minority men. The grant is expected to keep funding going until next September.

“When somebody’s already met you and they can put a name to a face, that’s always beneficial,” Thomas said.

One of the program’s participants is Russell Diggs, a master’s student in recreation, event and sport management. Diggs said he expects to complete his master’s in summer 2016 and apply to the physical therapy doctorate program at the Health Science Center right after. He said he joined the program in spring of his freshman year at UNT after switching his major to kinesiology.

He became interested in physical therapy in high school after receiving a shoulder injury from a football game. 

“Physical therapy helped me get back to the right mental state and the right physical state,” Diggs said. “I just wanted to do it professionally, and give that feeling back to someone.”

He said he enjoys establishing partnerships with the people he meets in the program. 

“I hope [this program] sticks around,” Diggs said. “It’s great to meet other people in the program that are going through the same thing as you. It also opens you up to a lot of career opportunities in physical therapy.”

Associate mathematics professor at Tarrant County College Northwest Campus Archie Wilmer is a member of the program’s advisement board. Wilmer is also a partner liaison and the campus point of contact, helping Northwest Campus to communicate with the other partners.

He said he helps Tarrant County communicate with the other partners and host events for participants and recruits.

“If everyone in an allied health profession was one race and one gender, certain viewpoints on how to handle certain situations would not be there,” Wilmer said. “There are individuals with the potential of entering a profession who are not actually aware of the profession.”

Featured Illustration by Jake Bowerman – Senior Staff Illustrator

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