Building lasting impressions: Q&A with Dr. Gregory Dedrick

Gregory Dedrick was a junior music major and saxophone player at the University of North Texas when he hurt his ankle playing basketball. The injury was severe enough that he underwent physical therapy (PT). While being treated as a patient, he found PT fascinating. So much so that he dropped his music major, earned a bachelor’s in kinesiology from the University of North Texas and eventually a master of physical therapy from the University of Texas Medical Branch and a doctor of science in physical therapy (ScD) from Texas Tech University. He practiced PT at the University Medical Center in Lubbock, Texas, from 1997 to 2003, before serving as an associate professor at Texas Tech.

Today, he’s director of the Campbell University College of Pharmacy & Health Sciences' new Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program. He joined the university in July 2012, and will oversee the development of the program, including recruiting faculty and obtaining accreditation. He spoke with in late August about his background and his vision for the program.

Where do things currently stand with the program?
We’re very early in the process. We’ve started hiring faculty; we’re doing interviews for the director of clinical education position, which is a very important hire. We have two other positions advertised. Hopefully, we’ll have all faculty positions hired by the end of the fall. We’re going to use rolling start dates for them. A couple will start January 2013; a few more in June and September of 2013; and the last will come on in the spring of 2014. Right now, if we’re granted pre-accreditation status from CAPTE (Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education), we’re on a cycle to enter students in January 2014.

Why were you interested in directing and implementing Campbell’s new DPT program?
It was an opportunity to build a program from scratch and to integrate different learning opportunities across different health professions.  Obviously, it’s not going to be all me; it’s going to be a collaborative effort with faculty to build a great program.  But the opportunity to lead and build something that will leave a lasting impression on the local community is a really unique.

Why is it important for Campbell to establish a DPT program?
There’s an estimate that the need for PT jobs will grow by 39 to 40 percent between 2010 and 2020 on a national level. If you look at North Carolina, the projection is an increase of 30 percent by 2016.  North Carolina is one of fastest growing states by population, but if you look at the number of licensed PTs entering the state, we are ranked No. 38 out of 50. We’re not keeping up with demand. Campbell is in a unique position to influence physical therapist retention rates in rural North Carolina providing necessary healthcare access to those in low income regions. That’s one of the program objectives: to turn out graduates who are competent and passionate about rural practice opportunities.  With the addition of the osteopathic medicine and physician assistant programs, a real opportunity exists to incorporate inter-professional learning experiences within the physical therapy program.

What did you learn during your time as a practitioner and a graduate student that you’ll draw on to help shape Campbell’s DPT program?
To listen. “Talk less, listen more.” It’s really about a good interviewing process and asking open-ended questions. We need to teach those interviewing skills as well as listening skills and looking at non-verbal cues—and putting it all together. Listening is a huge, huge deal when dealing with patients. Listen to their story, and nine times out of 10 they will tell you what is wrong with them.

How do you teach that to students?
Utilizing the “flipped” classroom – providing students the background information ahead of time allows more experiential aspects in the classroom instead of traditional lecture. You can bring in actors or patients; students can go to clinics and practice interviewing skills. One of my past assignments has been for students to meet 10 random people they don’t know and talk to them in an attempt to glean as much information as possible in a short time. Unless you’re comfortable talking to people, it’s going to be very difficult for you to be successful in physical therapy practice.


- by Cherry Crayton, Campbell University Digital Content Coordinator