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I read with interest the debate that has been going on among the Nigerian PTs within an l abroad on the issue of Doctor of Physical therapy (DPT) programme. As expected, there are diverse opinions on this issue.

In order to be reasonable before taken side either for or against on this debate, we need to go down the memory lane on physiotherapy education and practice in pre and post colonial era.

Physiotherapy which is a major component of Rehabilitation care was introduced to Nigeria during the colonial era. Precisely, it started in 1945 by 2 Britons. They were engaged by the government of the day to work at Orthopaedic Hospital Igbobi, Lagos.

Their appointment was not unconnected with the deplorable situation of Nigeria wounded soldiers who returned from war. Thus, their primary assignments were to rehabilitate the wounded and disabled soldier; and also to commence a training programme in physiotherapy. A 3-year diploma programme kick started by the pioneer therapists at Igbobi. The training was hospital based and the graduates were designated assistant physiotherapists. They were working under the supervision of the chartered physiotherapists.

Nigerians therapists were not satisfied with the diploma programme as it did not fully prepare them to have independent judgment in patient care. Six years after independence (1966) a degree programme started in University of Ibadan. University of Lagos followed suite in 1971 and University of Ife, in 1977 exactly 30 years ago. Two Nigerians therapists Mr Ajao and Dr Oshin who were trained abroad came back home to give physiotherapy services a boost.

The major contributing factor to the achievements of rehabilitation services since independence is a well structured educational programmes. The trainings do not only prepare therapists for design, implementation, and supervision of rehabilitation of various injuries in a variety of patient populations, but it also prepares therapists for the leadership position, research and problem solving.

Less than a decade ago a 5-year programme was introduced by Nigeria institutions to allow more courses to be taken by students which are not part of the 4 years programme. There is yet to be evidence to prove whether the introduction of some courses and increase in the years of training have effects in the clinical practice or output of the therapists.

We do know that several achievements have been recorded from changing from diploma to degree programme. These include grade level in the salary and wages from the governments and improvements in the scheme of service.

Majority of people that favor DPT may have their reasons. The fact that PT will be addressed as 'Doctor' may be a major reason. But what is wrong in being called doctor if you actually trained and offer the services to your clients. In fact PTs are already being addressed as doctor by clients. I believe they are more comfortable, secure and hopeful when they see you as doctor.

As students' advisor, the pressing question I receive all the times from the new students is, 'are we going to be called doctor?' No matter the explanation, many get confused and discouraged. I had similar experienced in my first year.

We can see the massive enrolment of therapists especially the clinicians for Msc and PhD programmes. The issue still comes down to the word 'Doctor'. Clinicians are not been promoted based on the number post graduate degrees, so why the rush? I personally believe and probably one of the people that have been writing and clamoring for DPT and the need for specialization in our

With good curriculum, adequate staff and facility, DPT programme could make PTs better in patient care and improve interpersonal relationship with other health care professionals.

The member of the editorial board would like to use this opportunity to thank the NSP president, Drs (Mrs) Bridget Birabi for unflinching supporting and dedicated commitment to the Journal. The tremendous achievement of the past Editor-in-Chief, Prof MOB Olaogun is highly recognized and appreciated. He and his team have really taken the Journal out of doldrums and launch it into new horizons.
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Title Annotation:Physical therapists
Author:Adedoyin, Rufus A.
Publication:Journal of the Nigeria Society of Physiotherapy
Article Type:Editorial
Geographic Code:6NIGR
Date:May 1, 2008
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