National Taiwan University (NTU) yesterday announced a decree — the first of its kind among schools in the nation — to establish gender-neutral bathrooms across its campus. NTU also said it plans to extend its physical therapy program by two years to help students adapt to increasingly demanding long-term care needs.
There is to be at least one unisex bathroom in every building on the NTU campus, NTU president Yang Pan-chyr (楊泮池) said, adding that the school plans to take immediate measures to set up gender-neutral restrooms.
The four-year undergraduate physical therapy program at NTU is also to be expanded to a six-year program, which is expected to begin in the next academic year, with the program expansion pending the Ministry of Education’s approval, Yang added.
School and Graduate Institute of Physical Therapy director Tsauo Jau-yih (曹昭懿) said the nation’s aging population has driven up demand for physical therapists, whose duties have diversified from caring for incapacitated patients to rehabilitating injured athletes.
She said that physical therapy is needed throughout a person’s life, so there is a need for a more intensive and extensive training.
Physical therapists have expanded beyond hospitals — their traditional place of practice — to local and athletic communities, she said.
While there are 14 universities offering physical therapy programs in Taiwan, the NTU physical therapy school — established in 1967 — was the first of its kind in Asia and is to be the first to extend its bachelor’s program to a six-year program, she said.
The new program is designed to orient students to the demands of the aging nation, building students’ clinical experience and communication skills to fit them in the long-term care system and special education programs, she said.
Tsauo said the curriculum is to be expanded to accommodate more in-depth courses and internships, engaging students in four major specialty areas: medical research, sports physical therapy, long-term care and pediatric physical therapy, as well as professional development and general management.
The occupational outlook for physical therapists completing a six-year program is expected to be more favorable than those of their competitors, as the new program’s graduates are expected to find immediate employment, interdisciplinary careers and a shortened period of study to attain a doctorate degree, she said.
The starting monthly salary for a physical therapy college graduate is about NT$40,000, while practitioners who own their own clinics can earn NT$80,000 or more, she said, adding that there are increasingly more therapists opening their own clinics after only five years of practice.
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