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AU News

Hinman Looks Back on Physical Therapy Program Development

June 9, 2022
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Dr. Martha (Marty) Hinman is retiring at the end of this academic year. She's pictured presenting a hood to Emily Atkinson during the December 2021 Commencement.

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As she nears retirement from the Anderson University College of Health Professions, Dr. Martha (Marty) Hinman reflected on how the Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program became a reality.

The first graduates received their degrees in December 2021, but it took well over a decade for the program to get where it is today. 

Discovering Physical Therapy

When she was a freshman in college, Dr. Hinman was trying to decide on a major. She knew she wanted to study biology and anatomy, but she also enjoyed playing sports. She considered a career path that would combine both of those interests. 

“Athletic training was a brand new career at the time I was in college. I was thinking about applying to those programs, but there weren’t many at the time,” she recalled. “My advisor suggested physical therapy and occupational therapy. I originally applied to occupational therapy school and decided physical therapy was more what I was interested in. I switched my application over and went to the Medical College of Georgia (currently Augusta University). 

Dr. Hinman went on to earn her master’s in Health Education, then earned her Ed.D. in Allied Health Education and Administration from the University of Houston and her Doctor of Physical Therapy from Nova Southeastern University.

Journey to Anderson

“It was a very nontraditional route,” Dr. Hinman said of her journey from Abilene, a city in the West Texas prairie, to Anderson, in Upstate South Carolina. Hardin-Simmons University, where she was on the faculty, was the first private college in Texas to establish a doctoral program in physical therapy.  

She recalled when Anderson University President, Dr. Evans Whitaker and then-provost Dr. Danny Parker visited Hardin-Simmons. Whitaker had a vision for a new physical therapy program for Anderson and was interested in what was going on in Texas. They approached Dr. Hinman about consulting for a new program at Anderson. 

What happened next wasn’t what she imagined.

Later that year they met again at a SACS conference in San Antonio. She was prepared to share with them her assessment for the proposed program. Dr. Parker asked her if she’d consider coming to Anderson to run the program.

“I politely said ‘no’ because my husband and I had just built a brand new house in Abilene,” she recalled. “We were pretty settled where we were… so I agreed to continue as a consultant.”

Dr. Hinman kept in touch with Anderson University for the next few years. In 2016 she was introduced to Dr. Donald Peace, dean of the Anderson University College of Health Professions. Dr. Peace had some prospects for running the Physical Therapy program and wanted Dr. Hinman’s feedback on the candidates. 

She said, “This is something I would love to do myself; I’m just not movable.” Anderson’s Provost Office and College of Health Professions believed Dr. Hinman was the right person to lead the physical therapy program. Together with Dr. Hinman they would figure out how to make it work.

“I went ahead and signed a contract and was planning to start the next June after my other faculty contract ran out,” said Dr. Hinman. She was able to have the best of both worlds and divide her time between Anderson and Abilene. Through her dedication came an accredited Physical Therapy program at Anderson University.

Connecting With Community

From the beginning, Dr. Hinman stressed that physical therapy students should be actively involved in the surrounding community. Ongoing projects include working with AnMed to retrofit commercially available ride-on toys for children with mobility disabilities. The initiative was successful, as evidenced by the smiling faces of youngsters who received their new “wheels.” Students have also been involved in Martin Luther King Jr. Service Day, helping with First Baptist Church in Greenville’s huge garage sale, whose proceeds benefit the Neighborhood Partnership Missions. Many students have also volunteered with GAPS (Greenville Area Parkinsons Society).

Several students were paired with retired senior citizens, part of the SPICE (Senior Partners in Clinical Education) of Life mentoring program. The students received practical experience and formed lasting friendships. 

“It’s nice for them to practice on someone who might have some problems and not move as easily and not understand the lingo. This way they’re more prepared when they go out in the clinic,” said Dr. Hinman, adding that students have lunch with seniors and even in one case ran a marathon with an active senior who was into running.


“Our program went through both the candidacy process, which is the pre-accreditation phase, and its initial accreditation without a single citation; that’s extremely rare,” Dr. Hinman said. “I don’t recall any other program that has accomplished that.”

She pointed out that developing the program hasn’t been without its challenges. 

“You always expect there’s going to be unexpected things happening, but whoever thought we were going to have a pandemic while I was trying to develop this program? Then right as the pandemic started, I was diagnosed with breast cancer, so I was out for a while trying to keep things going while I was having surgery and being treated. Then about a year ago I fell down a flight of stairs at a friend’s house and shattered my elbow. I was sidelined for a few months with that,” Dr. Hinman said. “If you look at all those unexpected obstacles and challenges and we were still able to graduate a class on time, I think that just overcoming those obstacles is probably what I’m proudest of. Obviously I had a lot of help – my faculty really deserves the credit for achieving that final goal.”

Dr. Hinman has an impressive record of peer-reviewed publications and presentations, but a labor of love for her was writing her book Amazing Grays. She wrote Amazing Grays for a lay audience. A play on words (Gray’s Anatomy), the book beautifully describes human anatomy from a biblical perspective.

Retirement Next Steps

Upon retirement, Dr. Hinman plans to continue consulting and hopes to write some more. 

“I’ve thought about writing a children’s book. I like to write. I’m thinking of doing something a little different with that,” she said. Dr. Hinman looks forward to retirement at their home in Abilene, Texas, with her husband, a retired chemical engineer for Gulf Oil Company. 

She quips, “I’ve always enjoyed developing things, so perhaps a garden will be next on my agenda!”

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