Doctor of Physical Therapy
About the Program
The faculty is committed to implementing a curriculum that is designed to prepare competent physical therapists that will be able to employ critical decision-making skills and evidence-based practice for optimal patient care. Some key aspects of the program and curriculum include:
- Hybrid curriculum that includes elements of traditional, system-based, and problem-solving approaches
- Intentional progression from simpler concepts and problems to more complex problems that require and develop synthesis skills
- Opportunities that encourage independent learning by presenting patient cases and through various teaching opportunities
- Several courses, called synthesis courses, are positioned prior to the student attending full-time clinical rotation in order to integrate material from the previous semesters
- Emphasis on manual therapy with two courses (spine and extremities) devoted to theory and technique of mobilization and manipulation
- Opportunities for graduate assistant and teaching assistant positions
The curriculum integrates the didactic, laboratory, and clinical components throughout the program of study. The philosophy of the clinical education component is to provide a broad background for entry-level practice in a variety of clinic settings, which are located in various geographic locations. These clinic settings include acute care/inpatient hospitals, ambulatory care/outpatient, skilled nursing/extended care facilities, private practice, neurologic rehabilitation, and pediatric/school settings.
The part-time clinical occurs in the first year of the program in a variety of local, rural clinical facilities. It is designed to provide opportunities for continued development of professional characteristics, as well as practice of technical skills being learned in the classroom. These experiences, which are somewhat unique in PT curricula, provide students with needed practical preparation for the first full time clinical.
Full-time Clinical Sequence
The full-time practicum sequence is designed to provide a supervised, concentrated course of study in which the student has the opportunity to apply theory and practice skills learned in the didactic and laboratory components of the curriculum. The full-time practica, which occur in a variety of clinical facilities across the country, are:
Clinical Practicum I – 10 weeks, 2nd segment of Fall Semester of 2nd year
Clinical Practicum II – 12 weeks, Summer Semester of 3rd year
Clinical Practicum III/Clinical Practicum IV – 16 weeks, Spring Semester of 3rd year (can be completed as either one 16 week or two 8 week clinical rotations depending on clinic availability and student's educational/career goals)
Assignment to Clinical Facility for Full-time Practica
The Director of Clinical Education (DCE) assigns students to the clinical facilities for the practica. The DCE works closely with students to meet their needs and desires, but also to make certain that each student has the experiences that are pertinent to becoming a "generalist", that is, a physical therapist capable of practicing in any setting as a graduate. Students are given the opportunity to provide a priority listing of clinical facilities from among those that are available for each practicum time period.