What is a Transitional Doctor of Physical Therapy Degree?

Faculty Insights Healthcare

A Transitional Doctor of Physical Therapy (tDPT) allows licensed physical therapists who have a bachelor’s or master’s degree to obtain their Doctorate of Physical Therapy in one to two years. This type of program promotes evidence-based practice and patient management skills, and arms practitioners with the skills and knowledge required to assume leadership roles. A benefit of most tDPT programs, including Northeastern’s, is that they are offered 100 percent online, allowing working professionals the flexibility they need to complete their degree.

Below, a Northeastern alumna shares her experience earning a tDPT, including how to balance work and school and how the degree has advanced her career.

Q & A with a Northeastern tDPT Student 

Kellie Bedoni, a recent graduate of Northeastern University’s tDPT program, is a prime example of how a doctoral student can successfully balance family, work, and obtaining a tDPT degree. Bedoni is the founder and owner of K Bedoni Physical Therapy, a private pay concierge practice, in Hingham, MA. She has been practicing as a Licensed Physical Therapist since graduating from Northeastern with a Bachelor of Science in Physical Therapy in 1998, a Master’s in Physical Therapy in 1999, and her tDPT in 2017. Bedoni specializes in orthopedics and the female athlete, supporting women’s rehabilitation and athletic goals during all life stages, including pregnancy and postpartum care.

AT: Why did you decide to enter a tDPT program?

KB: After 20 years of practicing general orthopedics in an outpatient clinic, I started thinking about starting a private pay practice model. Massachusetts has unrestricted direct access which allows clients to seek care without a medical doctor’s referral. By attaining a tDPT and improving my clinical credentials, I was opening up an avenue of direct access to patient care. I also wanted to teach at the higher education level and knew I needed to attain a tDPT to continue on a more consistent basis.

AT: Why did you choose Northeastern’s tDPT program?

KB: During my career, I had the opportunity to work with many clinical and cooperative education students from not only Northeastern, but other colleges and universities as well. I have always been impressed by Northeastern students and the overall caliber of students that come from the University. I looked at each of NU’s programs to see what best fit my learning style and lifestyle/scheduling needs.  As an alumna of Northeastern, I gravitated toward my alma mater for familiarity; however, the online flexibility, international presence, and content and availability of the courses are what ultimately led me to choose NU.

Did You Know? Northeastern’s tDPT program offers concentrations in areas including orthopedics, pediatrics, geriatrics, advanced nutrition, education, and business management.

AT: How did earning a tDPT help you in your career?  What are you currently doing?  

KB: First and foremost, I am a better physical therapist. The tDPT program helped me improve my critical thinking process and look at my patients from a more evidence-based and patient-centered approach. During classes, I was able to collaborate with physical therapists from different states and countries to see PT from their points of view. The tDPT gave me the ability to apply research and resources to my patients, giving me a more thorough approach to patient care. Courses such as Motor Control and Differential Diagnosis crossed a span of all disciplines in PT, surfacing concepts I wouldn’t usually apply in my practice.

As a cash-based private pay physical therapist, the tDPT was integral in giving me the tools to perform thorough evaluations and increased confidence in my diagnostic skills. These abilities have made a direct impact on my current practice and company. As the owner of my company, K Bedoni Physical Therapy, I am autonomous and see patients directly from their own referrals. Being a female athlete specialist, I am frequently asked to consult on different injuries with women of all ages. NU’s diverse program and course selection offered numerous opportunities to apply my knowledge to all my patients.

AT: How did the program fit with your family and work responsibilities? How did you balance them all?

KB: As an adult learner, my study and work habits differed from when I was an undergraduate or even in graduate school. Having to balance full-time work and a family, which includes three younger boys, I needed a program that fit my busy schedule. The online program at Northeastern provided the flexibility needed in a working mother’s schedule, but at the same time, it didn’t sacrifice education. Expectations were clearly defined at the beginning of each course; however, the professors understood there was a need to personalize learning depending on the students. They take into consideration logistics, such as different time zones for presentations, the load of the coursework for working therapists, and the different areas of practice. I felt the coursework was always applicable to our learning, and not “busy work” that would take away from my family. The work required a couple of hours each night and was easily manageable after work or after my kids went to bed. The tDPT program was a powerful investment in my career and practice without sacrificing quality time with my family.

To learn more about Northeastern’s Transitional Doctor of Physical Therapy (tDPT) program, including curriculum, faculty, and alumni information, visit our program page or contact an enrollment coach to get personalized advice.