ATP backlog: UPitt puts up money

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Friday, May 17, 2019

PITTSBURGH – The University of Pittsburgh’s Department of Rehabilitation Science & Technology has stepped up efforts to increase the number of ATPs.

The department is offering eight $10,000 scholarships to incoming students in the Master of Science in Rehab Technology program this fall. Students are eligible to sit for the ATP exam soon after graduation.

“The bigger picture is to make it more affordable for people to go to school, and to try and backfill the number of ATPs that we’re going to have,” said Mark Schmeler, an associate professor and vice chairman of education and training for the department. “We want to raise the standards for people working in this field, but we want to be cautious about it, because education is expensive.”

Nearly 25% of the current pool of ATPs could be retired in five years, according to the results of a survey conducted last year by UPitt and NCART.

The scholarship is only the first step Schmeler wants to take to increase the number of ATPs. He’s also looking at developing a one- year vs. two-year program that combines online courses with on-site meetings for hands-on and lab work.

“The move to more online education is happening in education and we can’t ignore it,” he said. “We have to make education more accessible.”

While pursuing degrees in OT and PT are the more obvious choices, Schmeler feels that if more students were familiar with the complex rehab field, they’d jump at it.

“I’m an OT myself and I’ll probably get in trouble for saying this but, OT and PT can get pretty monotonous,” he said. “I like the diversity of working in complex rehab. You don’t see the same situation day in and day out.”