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Technical Standards

Technical (core performance) standards for admission to, progression in, and completion of the program in physical therapy:

General Abilities

To provide quality health care, the student is expected to possess functional use of the senses of vision, touch, hearing, taste, and smell.  All data received by the senses must be integrated, analyzed and synthesized in a consistent and accurate manner.  In addition, the individual is expected to possess the ability to perceive pain, pressure, temperature, position, equilibrium, and movement.

Observational Ability

The student is expected to participate in and observe demonstrations and experiments in the basic sciences including but not limited to physiologic and pharmacologic demonstrations in animals, microbiologic cultures and microscopic study of organisms and tissues in normal and pathologic states.  The student is expected to observe the patient accurately at a distance and close at hand and accurately assess health/illness alteration. Inherent in this observation process is the functional use of the senses and sufficient motor capability to carry out the necessary assessment activities.

Communication Ability

The student is expected to be able to effectively communicate verbally and non-verbally and to observe patients in order to elicit information, describe changes in mood, activity, and postures and to perceive non-verbal communications.  This requires the ability to read, write, and effectively utilize the English language. The student must be able to communicate effectively and sensitively with patients.

Motor Ability

The student is expected to be able to perform gross and fine motor movements required to provide physical therapy and operate equipment to deliver care safely.  Examples of movements the student must be able to perform include lifting, turning, transferring, transporting, and exercising the patients.  The student is expected to have the psychomotor skills necessary to perform or assist with procedures, treatments, administration of medication, managing of equipment, and emergency interventions.  The student is expected to be able to maintain consciousness and equilibrium, and have the physical strength and stamina to perform satisfactorily in clinical experiences.

The student should have sufficient motor function to elicit information from patients by palpation, auscultation, percussion and other diagnostic maneuvers.  The student must be able to do laboratory tests and work with scientific and other instruments and machinery utilized in the practice of physical therapy.  The student should have motor skills necessary to administer emergency treatment such as CPR.  Such actions require coordination of both fine and gross muscular movements, equilibrium and functional use of the senses of touch and vision.

The student should have the ability to:

  • Attend all classes and labs each week as described in each specific semester schedule
  • Participate in all clinical rotations, both integrated clinical experiences and full-time clinical experiences, which corresponds to the operating hours of the clinic. Operating hours during full-time clinical experiences can be 40 hours or more per week
  • Lift a minimum weight of 10 pounds overhead and be able to move a 150 pound dependent person from one surface to another
  • Carry in your arms up to 25 pounds while walking up to a minimum of 50 feet
  • Exert 75 pounds of push/pull forces up to 50 feet and sometimes exert 150 pounds of push/pull forces from a standing or seated position
  • Twist, bend, stoop, squat, crawl, climb onto equipment, reach above shoulder level, and kneel
  • Move from place to place and position to position at a speed that permits safe handling of classmates and patients
  • Stand and walk while providing support to a classmate simulating a disability or while supporting a patient with a disability
  • Climb stairs and negotiate uneven terrain with good balance
  • Administer CPR
  • Use hands to manipulate very small equipment, palpate body structures, handle injured body parts without causing injury to the subject, and safely guide a patient’s movement
  • Perform physical tasks while maintaining awareness of external factors; including patient response, monitor displays, equipment function and/or surroundings

Critical Thinking Ability

The student is expected to have the ability to develop problem solving skills.  This includes the ability to measure, calculate, analyze and synthesize objective as well as subjective data and make decisions that reflect consistent and thoughtful deliberation and clinical judgment.  In addition, the student should be able to comprehend three dimensional relationships and understand the spatial relationships of structures.

Interpersonal Abilities

The student is expected to have the emotional stability required to exercise sound judgment, complete assessment and intervention activities.  The student is expected to establish rapport and maintain sensitive, interpersonal relationships with individuals, families and groups from a variety of social, emotional, cultural, and intellectual backgrounds.  The student is expected to have the flexibility to function effectively under stress.  Concern for others, integrity, accountability, interest and motivation are necessary personal qualities.

Behavioral and Social Attributes

A student must possess the emotional health required for full utilization of his/her intellectual abilities, the exercise of good judgment, the prompt completion of all responsibilities attendant to the diagnosis and care of patients, and the development of mature, sensitive and effective relationships with patients.  Students must be able to tolerate physically taxing workloads and to function effectively under stress.  Students must be able to adapt to changing environments, to display flexibility and to learn to function in the face of uncertainties inherent in the clinical problems of many patients.  Compassion, integrity, concern for others, interpersonal skills, interest and motivation are all personal qualities that should be assessed during the admissions and education processes.

Students must be able to participate in laboratory experiences that may include exposure of all body parts, while wearing appropriate lab attire (shorts for men, shorts and sports bra for women). They must be able to participate both as the “patient” and as the “therapist” with all of their fellow students, regardless of gender or any other characteristics and treat their fellow students with the same high level of dignity and sensitivity that they will be expected to give to their patients.

Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to apply to the program.  However, it is the responsibility of the student to notify the Chair of the Department of Physical Therapy (see below) if there is any reason why the abilities/expectations described above cannot be met.  Students who indicate that they cannot meet one or more of these and who request a review in writing will be reviewed by the Departmental Faculty Committee and Dr. Susan Long, Association Dean of the College of Health Professions to determine what, if any, reasonable accommodations might be possible to facilitate successful completion of the degree requirements.