With the constant emergence of new technology, new treatment approaches, new treatment techniques, new areas of clinical specialization and the development of a more independent health care practitioner, graduates of the Department must be prepared to meet these challenges and adapt to an ever changing health care environment. It is the responsibility of the Department faculty to provide enrolled students the opportunity to receive a high quality professional education as a foundation from which personal and professional growth will occur. Thus, the faculty believe that the educational process must be a balance between didactic/academic and experiential/clinical laboratory course work and clinical education experiences. This requires a continuous effort of both academic and clinical faculty to provide relevant and pertinent clinical examples and experiences throughout the curriculum and is accomplished by involving clinical faculty in all areas of the Department.
The Department is based on the philosophy that a physical therapy education should prepare the student to provide current and future quality health care; both academic and clinic courses should be incorporated into the educational experience; and academic and clinic experiences should be integrated and interrelated.
The DPT curriculum is, thus, based on the following givens:
- There is a demonstrated need for physical therapy services in health care;
- There is a continuing need for public education as to the role and function of the physical therapist;
- The physical therapy profession is both an art and a science;
- The physical therapy profession's role and function continually change based on societal needs;
- Further research is critical for continued growth of the profession;
- Students who enroll in the curriculum will be independent thinkers, critical evaluators and problem solvers;
- Students complete a strong academic background in the basic sciences and liberal arts prior to entering the curriculum;
- Students enter the curriculum with diverse backgrounds and unique personal qualities that demonstrate flexibility, responsibility and cultural sensitivity;
- Early integration of classroom knowledge with clinical learning experiences is essential;
- Faculty members serve as role models in research, clinical practice, and professional leadership;
- The University provides a rich environment for learning and personal growth of students and faculty;
- The University supports the objectives and activities of the physical therapy program.
The Departmental faculty believe that to properly assimilate the foundation knowledge acquired in the pre-professional course work with the directed knowledge gained in the professional program, a flexible academic calendar is required. The scheduling flexibility, which incorporates both academic course work and clinical study, allows the Department to readily adapt to the changing needs of the physical therapy profession within the changing health care delivery system. The length of the curriculum is a minimum of six academic semesters completed over two calendar years.
The Department's faculty also recognize the need for adequate learning resources to operate a successful professional program. These resources include, but are not limited to, sufficient classroom and laboratory space, appropriate and adequate equipment, and availability of clinical sites for directed learning and clinical education experiences. The Department, with College and University support, is committed to achieving this expectation by maintaining relatively small professional classes. The current class size is 36-40 students who are admitted into the professional courses in the first semester.
The course sequence for the DPT curriculum has been designed to achieve integration of academic and clinical information. It is based on a "spiral" curricular model in which topics are introduced early in the curriculum and, then, revisited and expanded throughout the remaining course presentation. The textbooks used for each course in the Program have been chosen to help the student establish a base for the individual student's professional library.