College of Health and Human Services2021-2022

Department of Physical Therapy and Athletic Training

Physical Therapy - Entry Level, Doctor of Physical Therapy

Learning Outcomes

Purpose Statement

The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) is the required degree in the U.S. to practice as a physical therapist. Physical therapy is a health care profession focused at optimizing movement. Physical therapists work with individuals who have medical problems or other health-related conditions that interfere with their ability to function in their daily lives. In addition, a focus is on prevention of functional limitations and disability and promoting wellness and fitness. Physical therapists must be knowledgeable about the U. S. healthcare system and should participate in the development of health policy as advocates for their profession.
The DPT program provides didactic and clinical coursework to prepare students to work in the profession of physical therapy. Foundational sciences include human anatomy, physiology, pathology, and the study of normal and abnormal movement. Laboratory courses in musculoskeletal, neurologic, and cardiopulmonary physical therapy prepare students for these practice areas. Skills in clinical research and evidence-based practice are integral to the curriculum. The content covers the lifespan, from neonates to the very old. The DPT coursework prepares students to provide clients with a physical therapy diagnosis, prognosis, and plan of care.
An important part of the DPT curriculum is focused on professionalism, ethics, service to the community and profession, and life-long learning. In keeping with current practice, interprofessional education prepares students to work as clinicians in collaborative medical team models.
In addition to classroom and laboratory learning experiences, students participate in part-time and full-time clinical experiences. The full-time clinical experiences span the last 30 weeks of the curriculum. Students are supervised by a licensed physical therapist in each of three community clinical settings. 
Future opportunities:
The DPT is a clinical doctorate that prepares students to take the national licensing examination required to practice physical therapy in the U.S. Students are prepared as generalists with the skills necessary to enter clinical practice in diverse settings, including outpatient clinics, hospitals, schools, nursing homes, sports facilities, and home health agencies.
Population best suited:
Students entering the DPT must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university or college and completed the necessary prerequisite courses. It is a rigorous full-time program that requires strengths in science, communication, physical coordination, and teamwork. Professional and ethical behavior is essential.

Student Learning Outcomes
Outcomes align with Standards from the Commission on Accreditation for Physical Therapy Education

1. Profesional Ethics and Value
2. Patient/Client Management

  • Screening
  • Examination, Evaluation and Diagnosis
  • Intervention
3. Management of Care Delivery
4. Participation in Health Care Environment
5. Practice Management

See the full list of Student Learning Outcomes 

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