Mercer’s College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences intends to launch a doctoral-level program in physical therapy next fall and has appointed Leslie F. Taylor, PT, Ph.D., former division head of the physical therapy program at Georgia State University, to develop and implement the new program on the Atlanta campus.
“As the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences seeks to develop an extremely promising addition in physical therapy, it has engaged a talented and experienced director to work with faculty in planning the program,” said Mercer Provost Wallace L. Daniel. “Physical therapy fits well with the mission of the University and, when it is planned and developed, should enhance the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, as well as contribute in a significant way to the health sciences at Mercer.”
Dr. Taylor, who has led Georgia State’s physical therapy program for the past four years, has over 25 years of clinical experience as a physical therapist, working in a variety of clinical settings. In 1986, she began her private practice with an emphasis on treating individuals with chronic illnesses, and later earned a Master of Science in Community Counseling while completing an internship in Boston. After returning to her native Atlanta to pursue a position in physical therapist education, she earned her Ph.D. in Sociology in 1997 with an emphasis in medical sociology. She also holds a graduate certificate in gerontology.
“The addition of a Doctor of Physical Therapy program in the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences is a natural next step for us as we expand our commitment to provide health care practitioners for the state and region,” Dr. Matthews said. “In particular, this program will enable Mercer University to satisfy the growing demand for physical therapists who work with our aging population.”
Dr. Taylor’s current research addresses physical function in older adults, specifically on developing and evaluating physical activity interventions to maximize the independence, quality of life, and quality of care of those who are frail and chronically ill. Her research is presented and published nationally. Her teaching interests include rheumatology, geriatrics/gerontology, psychosocial aspects of disease and disability, ethics, communication, and evidence-based research.
She received the GSU Gerontology Institute’s Outstanding Faculty Award in 2003 and the Achievement in Education Award from the Physical Therapy Association of Georgia in 2008. She serves on the Board of Directors of the Arthritis Foundation, Georgia Chapter, and North Metro Tech’s Physical Therapist Assistant program.
“I am thrilled to have the opportunity to develop a premier physical therapy program that will be aligned with Mercer’s vision of excellence in clinical education, research, and community engagement,” Dr. Taylor said. “I look forward to working with the University’s distinguished faculty and advancing the mission of the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences.”