Physical therapy program builds a bridge to India


‘It’s been great for our students who are from the States to work with and learn from our Indian students. It helps us to see different perspectives and different approaches to our craft’ —Clyde Killian

If there is any question about the international reputation of the Krannert School of Physical Therapy, just take a look at the students in its Master of Health Science classes.

Many of its students are from Indiana and other states around the U.S. But dozens of them travel halfway around the world from India to study here as well.

Dr. Clyde Killian, who has been at UIndy for 10 years, has watched this influx. The initial two or three students from India quickly turned into an entire community and culture within the department.

Those who return home after their studies bring cutting-edge physical therapy knowledge and skills with them.

“They are making major changes when they return to India,” Killian says. “Some open orthopedic clinics, others begin teaching or working with children. They just want to make a difference in their home country.”

Importing, Exporting

About 15 to 20 percent of these students return home after graduating, says Killian. Yet about half to two-thirds of the program’s graduates stay to practice in Indiana or a neighboring state. About a fourth to a third leave the Midwest.

Graduating class sizes of 40 to 45 students put UIndy at the top of Indiana schools for producing the largest number
of professional program graduates.

“Not only do we encourage international opportunities for our students,” says Dr. Kathy Martin, interim director of the Doctor of Physical Therapy program, “but also we want to maintain and improve our local community. We want to be a good neighbor in the city and a partner to the community.”

Sudha Thakur of Delhi, India, learned about the program via the Internet and recommendations from other students.

“The U.S. News ranking rated the University amongst top universities for physical therapy,” she says.

Sudha, who received her master’s degree in May 2010, has her future planned.

“I wish to gain some experience here for a few years, work in different realms of physical therapy, earn my doctorate, teach for some years, and then go back to India with all the experience and knowledge. I’d encourage students there to explore this part of the world.”

As students go back to India and to countries around the world, Dr. Killian knows that both UIndy and the students have benefited from their time together.

“These kids inspire you,” he says. “They become like family to us, and we’re sad when they leave.

“They are great students, phenomenal people. They bring more to us than we can ever give to them.”