Tyler Smith

May 31, 2018

Buena Vista University graduate and former Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) Cadet Tyler Smith, Class of 2018, has been accepted into the highly-competitive U.S. Army - Baylor University doctoral program in physical therapy, where he will receive a full-tuition waiver and a stipend to become an Army physical therapist.

“The program bridges my passion for physical therapy and the Army,” said Smith, who graduated from BVU on May 26 with a bachelor’s degree in applied health studies. “I have the opportunity to treat and work directly with members of the Army since I’ll be trained specifically with the military population. I couldn’t be more excited for this new chapter in my life.” 

“All too often, injured military officers aren’t treated until they’re retired veterans. I want to help others immediately after they become hurt so that their injuries don’t become lifelong disabilities.”

Tyler Smith

In November, Smith learned he was one of 750 applicants selected nationally to interview for a spot in the coveted program. Smith was then narrowed down to a pool of 50 candidates, and in March, he received a phone call from a recruiter notifying him that he was one of 26 applicants to be accepted into the prestigious program. 

“I found out I had been accepted during spring break,” said Smith, who became commissioned as a rank of second lieutenant immediately following BVU’s 2018 commencement ceremony. “I was at the beach with my friends when I received the call. It was a pretty great spring break to say the least.” 

An internship at the VA Central Iowa Health Care System facility in Des Moines solidified Smith’s future career path, specifically his desire to treat active duty members of the uniformed services. 

“All too often, injured military officers aren’t treated until they’re retired veterans,” said Smith. “I want to help others immediately after they become hurt so that their injuries don’t become lifelong disabilities.” 

The top-ranked program was established in 1971, when the U.S. Army and Baylor University partnered to create and conduct a graduate-level, physical therapy training program for the armed forces. Since then, the program has built its foundation around meeting the physical therapy needs of the armed forces through academic coursework, clinical education, research, and professional development of uniformed physical therapists. 

Each year, the 30-month program – which is based at the Army Medical Department Center and School on Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio – selects limited applicants from within the active duty and reserve forces as well as highly-qualified civilians. Students who are accepted into the program earn a salary while incurring an active duty service obligation to work as a military physical therapist post-graduation. 

Smith, who will serve on active-duty for five and-a-half years after earning his doctorate of physical therapy degree, attributes a great deal of his success to his professors and BVU experiences. “My time at BVU has been phenomenal,” added Smith. “I’ve met amazing people, learned so much, and traveled to places such as Vietnam and South Korea. My many mentors have also had an incredible impact on me and have helped mold me into a leader on campus and in the military. I can’t wait to see what’s ahead.”