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Technical Standards

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The DPT degree is a broad, undifferentiated degree attesting to general knowledge in physical therapy and the basic skills required to practice physical therapy. Essential abilities and characteristics required for completion of the DPT program consist of certain minimal physical and cognitive abilities and sufficient mental and emotional stability to assure candidates for admission, promotion, and graduation are able to complete the entire course of study and participate fully in all aspects of physical therapy training. The Department of Physical Therapy intends for its graduates to become competent generalists in the physical therapy profession who are capable of meeting the requirements for licensure. For purposes of this document and unless otherwise defined, the term “candidates” means candidates for admission to physical therapy school as well as RFUMS DPT students who are candidates for retention, promotion, or graduation.

The Department of Physical Therapy has a societal responsibility to train competent health care providers who demonstrate critical judgement, extensive knowledge, and well-honed technical skills. The essential skills, abilities, and characteristics described herein are also referred to as technical standards. They are described below in several broad categories including: observation; communication; motor; intellectual-conceptual; and social and behavioral skills. The standards must be met throughout the physical therapy program in order for students to make satisfactory progress and graduate. Candidates and current students who have questions regarding the technical standards or who believe they may need to request reasonable accommodation(s) in order to meet the standards are encouraged to contact the ADA Coordinator.

  • Observation: Candidates must be able to acquire information from demonstrations and experiences in the basic sciences. Examples include but are not limited to such things as dissection of cadavers; examination of specimens in anatomy and neuroscience; and physiology, pathophysiology, and kinesiology laboratories. Additionally, candidates must be able to acquire information from demonstrations and experiences in clinical skills courses, including but not limited to mobility assessment; movement patterns; transfers; gait patterns; and cardiopulmonary function.
  • Communication: Candidates must be able to communicate effectively, sensitively, and efficiently with patients, their families, health care professionals, colleagues, faculty, and staff. Candidates must be able to efficiently acquire a patient’s medical history, interpret non-verbal information, and establish a therapeutic rapport with patients. Candidates are also required to record information accurately and clearly; and communicate efficiently in English with other health care professionals in a variety of patient settings.
  • Motor: Candidates must be able, after appropriate training, to perform a complete physical examination and clinical interventions. They must be able to respond to clinical situations in a safe manner and provide general physical therapy care.
  • Intellectual-Conceptual (Integrative and Quantitative) Abilities: Candidates must be able to assimilate detailed and complex information presented in both didactic and clinical course work. Candidates must be able to learn through a variety of modalities including, but not limited to, classroom instruction; laboratory activities; small group, team, and collaborative activities; individual study; preparation and presentation of reports; simulations; and use of computer technology. The candidates must be able to measure, calculate, reason, analyze, integrate, and synthesize. In addition, they must be able to comprehend three-dimensional relationships and understand the spatial relationship of structure. Candidates must also be able to formulate and test hypotheses that enable effective and timely problem solving in diagnosis, treatment, or referral of patients in a variety of clinical settings and health care systems.
  • Behavioral and Social Attributes: Candidates must demonstrate the maturity and emotional health required for the full utilization of their intellectual abilities. They must accept responsibility for learning, exercising good judgement and complete all responsibilities attendant to their curriculum and to the physical therapy diagnosis and care of patients. Candidates must display characteristics of integrity, honesty, attendance and conscientiousness, empathy, a sense of altruism, and a spirit of cooperation and teamwork. They must understand the legal and ethical aspects of the practice of physical therapy and function within both the law and ethical standards of the physical therapy profession. Candidates must be able to interact with patients and their families, health care personnel, colleagues, faculty, staff, and all other individuals with whom they come in contact with in a courteous, professional, and respectful manner. The candidate for the DPT degree must accept responsibility for learning and exercise good judgement. Candidates must be able to contribute to collaborative, constructive learning environments; accept constructive feedback from others; and take personal responsibility for making appropriate, positive changes. Candidates must be able to function in a competent and professional manner under highly stressful situations. Candidates must be able to adapt to changing environments, to display flexibility, and to learn to function in the face of uncertainties inherent to clinical problems of patients.

The Americans with Disabilities Act

The American with Disabilities Act (ADA), enacted in July of 1990, protects any individual with a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits that person in some major life activity and any individual who has a history of, or is regarded as having, such an impairment.  Under the ADA, as with Section 504 of the Vocational Rehab Act, universities and colleges are prohibited from discriminating against an otherwise qualified person with a disability in all aspects of academic life.  Schools must make reasonable accommodations for the known physical or mental disabilities of otherwise qualified individuals.  The University need not make an accommodation that would cause an undue burden.  The philosophical basis of the ADA, that judging persons on their abilities and achievements rather than their potential disabilities, runs parallel to the traditional philosophy of this University.

The Department of Physical Therapy has developed the above list of Technical Standards of behavior in order to support the “essential requirements” of its curriculum.  In decisions on admission, evaluation, promotion, and graduation of any person, and especially an applicant or student with a disability, it is the obligation of the student to meet these minimum technical standards, with or without reasonable accommodation.

It is the responsibility of a candidate with a disability, or a candidate that develops a disability, who requires accommodations in order to meet these technical standards or any other academic requirements, to self-disclose to the ADA Coordinator and engage in an interactive process.   For further information on these Technical Standards and the procedures for their implementation, interested persons are encouraged to contact the ADA Coordinator at 847-578-8482.