UTHSCSA Faculty Profiles v1.0

Ernst, Gregory Paul

School of Health Professions
Physical Therapy
(210) 567-8757

I am a believer that the process of education is far more important than "getting an education." I liken the process of learning to the process of climbing a mountain peak. The student must enjoy the challenge of the climb and not be satisfied with reaching the top. I strive to spark an enthusiasm for the process of learning by actively engaging the student in the learning process. One cannot "enjoy the climb" by sitting passively in their chair while the professor rambles on. One method to engage the student is to make the topic of the day relevant. I routinely rely on my extensive clinical experience to bring the material alive. I challenge students with case studies in the classroom. The case studies become even more relevant as the students act out the case studies by role playing in the lab. Another tool I used to spark enthusiasm in learning is to engage the students in debates. Groups of students are assigned controversial topics in physical therapy, research the evidence, and openly debate each other in front of the rest of the class. The students get a chance to practice their literature search skills, persuasive speech skills, and critical thinking on their feet. The student audience remains engaged by asking the debate teams questions and also votes on a winner based on the evidence presented and preparedness of the teams. Finally, I assess student outcomes in a practical manner. Both written exams rely much on patient scenarios. In terms of mentoring students in research, I have a similar philosophy. My goal is also for the student to become enthused with the process of scientific investigation and not just be thrilled with the completed product.
Developing lifelong learners is something every professor will agree is important. Developing lifelong learners does not just happen. Faculty must take an active and explicit role in setting out to develop this characteristic. I believe it is essential that faculty instill enthusiasm for learning in the classroom, lab, and clinic. Secondarily, faculty must assist students in acquiring the tools to facilitate scientific and clinical inquiry throughout their careers. I strive to do this each day in the classroom, lab, and clinic. I feel my extensive clinical background, my enthusiasm in the classroom and lab, and being a strong role module as a professional, make me effective in developing the next generation of clinicians to care for our citizens throughout their careers.

9/2006 - Present Assistant Professor University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, Physical Therapy, San Antonio, TX
6/2006 - Present Associate Professor and Adjunct Professor Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions, Physical Therapy, Provo, UT