The professional education program in physical therapy is an eight semester course of study culminating in the Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree. The curriculum begins with the foundational sciences through which the student studies normal human structure and function. From this critical underpinning, the student undertakes, through an integrated study of body systems, an evidence-based approach to the study of the various pathological conditions that interfere with function, the associated psychosocial impact, the relevant medical and surgical interventions, and the physical therapy tests, measures, and interventions utilized within the patient/client management model. The student is also introduced to the physical therapist’s role in prevention and wellness, health promotion, education, consultation, scholarly inquiry, legislation and policy-making, and administration. Optional elective courses provide students with an opportunity to explore other health care areas and topics or additional areas of PT practice. Moreover, a student may work under the mentorship of a faculty member to pursue their interest in scholarly inquiry in the research track.
Students complete three full-time clinical practica, totaling 36 weeks of clinical experience, integrated in the second and third professional years, enabling students to apply information learned in didactic courses to patients and clients. More than 300 clinical sites around the United States are available to provide a broad base of experiences in a variety of settings. The sites represent the continuum of health care practice settings including acute care hospitals, rehabilitation hospitals, outpatient private practices, ambulatory care centers, skilled nursing facilities, school/preschool programs, and home health care.
The primary educational goal of the program is to prepare the graduate for autonomous practice wherein physical therapists are recognized by consumers and other health care professionals as the practitioners of choice for the diagnosis of, interventions for, and prevention of impairments, functional limitations, and disabilities related to movement, function, and health. (American Physical Therapy Association Vision Statement 2020) To achieve this goal, the faculty has identified the following six general program goals: