Doctor of Physical Therapy Class of 2018 begins clinical studies

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News Article

Publication Date


Campus Unit

School of Medicine & Health Sciences


GRAND FORKS, N.D.—Fifty-two physical therapy students, members of the Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) Class of 2018, will start the clinical studies portion of their journey to become doctors of physical therapy next week at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences. The students will receive white coats at the Entrance Into Professional Service Ceremony at 7 p.m. on Thursday, July 7, at the Alerus Center.

The students, 31 women and 21 men, range in age from 21 to 30 years, with the average age of 23. Many are from North Dakota, and most completed their pre-PT coursework at UND.

Keynote speaker will be Keith Leikas, PT, director of Therapy and Rehabilitation Services at Sanford Health in Fargo, N.D. Leikas is a UND PT alumnus with expertise in orthopedic physical therapy, management, and leadership. In his current position, Leikas is responsible for leading 15 departments across six different locations. He has held leadership positions in the state professional organization and has presented on orthopedic physical therapy to students and clinicians within the state.

“The ceremony emphasizes to the students the professionalism required in the clinic and within the physical therapy profession,” said David Relling, PT, PhD, associate professor and chair of the Department of Physical Therapy.

After completing their first year of the professional component of the physical therapy curriculum, the students have to pass an intense, comprehensive examination of their knowledge before they begin their clinical studies. The first three years of the curriculum are considered to be pre–physical therapy (pre-professional). The professional component of the DPT requires three academic years and two summer sessions following completion of the 90-credit pre–physical therapy entrance requirement.

Clinical experiences are a crucial component of the UND physical therapy curriculum and take place at more than 250 clinical sites across the nation, the majority of which lie outside the Greater Grand Forks area. These experiences meld academic information with hands-on clinical experience. Students participate in direct delivery of physical therapy services in a variety of settings under the direction and supervision of one or more clinical instructors. A physical therapist is on-site during the delivery of any service by a student physical therapist.

“Students are making the transition from being a student to being a health-care professional,” Relling said. “With that transition comes a great deal of responsibility and accountability to themselves and to their patients. For many students, this will be the first life experience they will have had that requires such a high level of professionalism and responsibility. We have trained them well, they have worked hard, and we anticipate they will do a great job working within a comprehensive, interprofessional health-care team.”

The students and their hometowns are the following:

  • Matthew James Aymond , Grand Forks, N.D.
  • Mary Bachman , Sartell, Minn.
  • Mary Joyce Barthel , Watertown, Minn.
  • Alicia Marie Beckel , Baudette, Minn.
  • Amanda Nicole Belyaks , Fort Myers, Fla.
  • Braden Lee Benson , Gillette, Wyo.
  • Tyler LeCompte Bentrup , Fenton, Mo.
  • Megan Noel Berndt , Bainville, Mont.
  • Carly Bertsch , Fargo, N.D.
  • Hailey Rae Brinkman , Grey Eagle, Minn.
  • Joseph Michael Burckhard , Devils Lake, N.D.
  • Alison Marie Cygan , Bozeman, Mont.
  • Katelyn M. Darnell , Champlin, Minn.
  • Mikaela Joy Dick , Devils Lake, N.D.
  • Lucas Clair Dolan , Milroy, Minn.
  • Carmen Ruth Ermer , Cavalier, N.D.
  • Mikelle Jordyn Fetsch , Grand Forks, N.D.
  • Bryon Alexander Flett , Bellingham, Wash.
  • Corrie Lea Fredericks , Billings, Mont.
  • Joseph Griffin , Linthicum, Md.
  • Kelsie Marie Gunnufson , Waconia, Minn.
  • Tatum Hall , Lake Park, Minn.
  • Sadie Hefta , Devils Lake, N.D.
  • Katerina Marie Hoime , Edmore, N.D.
  • Nicholas James Holkup , Wahpeton, N.D.
  • Hunter Nathaniel Huberty , Scandia, Minn.
  • Nicole Renee Husfeldt , Andover, Minn.
  • Tyler Daniel Kermit Kemnitz , Grand Forks, N.D.
  • Rachel Marie Klein , St. Cloud, Minn.
  • Jacob Michael Klingbeil , Langdon, N.D.
  • Jessica Lynch , Cologne, Minn.
  • Jamie Marie Maciejewski , Avon, Minn.
  • Mackenzie Rae Mears , Big Stone City, S.D.
  • Michael David Miller , Dickinson, N.D.
  • Kayli Muckenhirn , Detroit Lakes, Minn.
  • Ashley Elizabeth Naas , Ashland, Wis.
  • Molly Arlene Nienhuis , Lawton, N.D.
  • Michael Christopher Picken , Lakeville, Minn.
  • Robert James Plemel , Lake Park, Minn.
  • Chase Ryan Pruitt , Cedar City, Utah
  • Jenna Kae Sagedahl , Bemidji, Minn.
  • Michelle Sanders , Brooten, Minn.
  • Amanda Marie Slaikeu , Eagan, Minn.
  • Joshua Kirk Sorvig , Red Lake Falls, Minn.
  • Alexandria Ann Sweeney , Fargo, N.D.
  • Jarad Martin Syrstad , Thompson, N.D.
  • Scott William Syverson , Wadena, Minn.
  • Colin Gary Teichert , Alexandria, Minn.
  • Esley Guy Thorton , Bismarck, N.D.
  • Michael Timothy Utt , Casselton, N.D.
  • Laura Elizabeth Whiteley , Watford City, N.D.
  • Anna Margaret Yanchek , Cheyenne, Wyo.