GW DPT Students Pursue Early Intervention Training

Four students in the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program (DPT) at the George Washington University (GW) School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS) have been accepted into the Early Education Graduate Education of Related Service Providers (GEORGE) Program at GW and Georgetown University.

The GEORGE Program is a federally funded, 10-month early intervention (EI) training certificate program. The program is available for graduate students completing degrees in physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech language pathology, and special education. The goal of the program is to provide evidenced-based training in early intervention practices.

All four GW DPT students who applied to the program this year were accepted. They all have completed basic coursework in the management of pediatric patients. “I was super interested in the GEORGE program because I personally witnessed how early intervention was able to help people in my own family and I wanted to be able to do the same with my career,” said Jenni Tang (DPT’21).

Due to COVID-19, this year’s program will look a little different than past years. It will be a hybrid-learning experience with the didactic courses being offered via a virtual classroom format followed by an in-person clinical experience. The four-week, team-based clinical experience will be a hands-on learning scenario in early childhood learning centers located throughout Washington, D.C.

“I admire that this program allows us to take an in-depth and intensive approach to the world of pediatrics. It will allow for many unique experiences I would not get anywhere else in my education,” said Mary-Kate Bennett (DPT’21).

One of the main focuses of the GEORGE program is timely detection of individuals that would benefit from early intervention services. The program educates students regarding strategies for detection and specific intervention programs to address each individual child and families’ needs. The strategies target not only the physical disabilities of the child, but also educate the family on how they can advocate for their child’s needs. “This program strives to equip students with skills and knowledge to successfully work in this specialized and important,” states Marissa Birkmeier, DPT, director of clinical education for the GW DPT Program and assistant professor in the Department of Health, Human Function, and Rehabilitation Sciences. Dr. Birkmeier is one of the core faculty mentors for the GEORGE program.

With the completion of the program, the GEORGE graduates will receive a certificate in Early Intervention from Georgetown University. “I am hoping that through this program and after graduating from the GW DPT program, I will be able to positively impact children’s lives from the very beginning,” said Candice Suitor (DPT’21).