Shaping the Future of Physical Therapy Education: A Conversation with New Program Director, Dr. Jacque Bradford about UofM’s New DPT Program

Jacque BradfordThe University of Memphis College of Health Sciences has appointed Dr. Jacque Bradford as Program Director for their upcoming Doctor in Physical Therapy (DPT) program, set to begin in fall 2026. Dr. Bradford, a distinguished three-time graduate of the university, brings extensive experience as a clinician, professor, and administrator. Her appointment aligns with the university's Ascend strategic plan, emphasizing STEM, healthcare, and business to serve workforce needs and community well-being. The DPT program, situated on the Lambuth Campus in Jackson, Tennessee, will be the campus's largest graduate cohort, admitting 40 students annually. Dr. Bradford's enthusiasm for shaping the program underscores its commitment to excellence, innovation, and collaboration in service to Jackson and West Tennessee. Learn more about her appointment and the DPT program's significance in addressing critical workforce shortages by reading the full press release here.

In this exclusive interview feature, Dr. Jacque Bradford shares insights into her role as the Program Director for the new Doctor in Physical Therapy (DPT) Program at the University of Memphis. Discover what motivated her to take on this position, her goals for the program's future, and the unique opportunities it offers for students. Dive into the conversation to learn more about Dr. Bradford's vision and the exciting prospects ahead for the DPT program.

Q: What motivated you to join the University of Memphis as the Program Director for the new Doctor in Physical Therapy (DPT) Program?

A: Great question! There are many aspects that motivated me to return to the University of Memphis to develop our new Doctor of Physical Therapy Program, but the overarching reason that drew me to this position was my desire to serve the rural communities of Tennessee and the students who reside or would like to work rural communities. As a previous director of clinical education of another DPT program, I increasingly became aware of the continued barriers to healthcare, including access to physical therapy treatment, in rural patient populations and the impact of social determinants of health on population health and wellness. It takes a more autonomous skillset to practice in such areas, and the thought of developing a physical therapy program that emphasized being a leader in serving these patient populations invigorates me.

Q: Are there specific goals or outcomes that you are most excited to achieve in the initial years of the program?

A: This is an easy question to answer, but I realize it will take much hard work to achieve these goals. The ultimate goal within the initial years of the DPT program is to attain program accreditation. With the outstanding support I have already experienced at the UofM from administrators, faculty, staff, students, alumni, and the Memphis and Jackson community, I do not doubt that this goal will be achieved. Another goal is to attract and onboard faculty and staff who wholeheartedly support the DPT program’s mission and vision and place the success of the students at the forefront of every decision at hand. A final priority goal is to ensure adequate communication with our current UofM students who may be interested in the DPT program about prerequisites, requirements, and application deadlines so that they may successfully prepare for and continue their education with the UofM through the new DPT program.

Q: What makes the DPT program at UofM unique, and why should students choose it?

A: Two predominant characteristics that will set the UofM DPT program apart from other DPT programs is the emphasis on developing students to become leaders in the field of PT practice with a focus on the communities they serve and the close relationship with the College of Health Sciences research enterprise that will inform evidence-based clinical practice. Other unique aspects of the DPT program include the location of the program on the beautiful Lambuth campus in Jackson, TN highlighting the more intimate nature of the cohort-based program, opportunities to collaborate with the UofM Nursing Program, the Jackson State PTA program, and the Jackson area PT clinics and medical facilities, and an exceptional DPT program with a small-town-home feel. Students within this new UofM DPT program will also have the unique opportunity to serve as the very first students in the program. We anticipate that these first DPT students will have a voice in many aspects of developing the program, including events, aesthetics, clubs, and identifying other needs that needs to be considered to maximize the student experience.

Q: What kind of student experience do you aim to create within the Doctorate in Physical Therapy Program?

A: The student experience is of utmost importance in the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program. The DPT program will be cohort-based, so each student will be in the same classes each day throughout the week. Cohort-based programs help facilitate higher levels of learning and academic success benefits such as collaboration, relationship-building and friendships, study group development, mental health support through mutual and social experiences, accountability, and much more. The goal is to create a collegial relationship among students and faculty so that students feel more comfortable taking the lead during their graduate education experience and maximize their time in the 3-year program. Students in the DPT program will be the only graduate students on campus (for the time being) and will have access to campus fitness facilities, the campus café, plenty of parking space, and can relax and exercise outside on the gorgeous Lambuth campus quad. Additionally, students will be paired with a faculty member who will serve as an advisor for each student through the program. Students will be required to meet with their advisors during the program to discuss professional growth and any student needs. The student-faculty advisor relationship will also contribute to the professional development of the student but will also serve as a bridge for a professional relationship beyond graduation from the program.

Q: Any additional information you'd like our readers to know?

A: Exciting news – The UofM DPT program will be one of the largest cohort-based graduate programs within the University. Also, UofM students should know that we plan to provide priority admissions interviews for highly qualified UofM students, as well as for highly qualified students at select partner HBCU students in the local area.