Doctor of Physical Therapy Admissions

Technical Standards

TECHNICAL STANDARDS FOR ADMISSION, ACADEMIC PROGRESSION, AND GRADUATION

Introduction

Students are expected to develop a robust medical knowledge base and the requisite clinical skills, with the ability to appropriately apply their knowledge and skills, effectively interpret information, and contribute to patient-centered decisions across a broad spectrum of medical situations and settings. The technical standards presented in this document are prerequisite, academic requirements for admission, progression, and graduation from the MCOM DPT program.


Equal Access to the Morsani College of Medicine's Educational Programs

The University of South Florida is committed to the principles of equitable and accessible education and to providing reasonable accommodations to students with disabilities. The USF Morsani College of Medicine, School of Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation Sciences endeavors to provide reasonable accommodations for otherwise qualified individuals with disabilities who apply for admission and are enrolled as medical students.  

Candidates with disabilities are encouraged to contact the SPTRS Office of  Admissions early in the application process so that they can further direct the candidate on the USF accommodations process.  

It is the responsibility of a candidate with a disability, or a candidate who develops a disability, who may require accommodations to meet these technical standards, to self-disclose to USF Student Accessibility Services and request accommodations once admitted or any time during the student’s enrollment in the DPT program. Detailed instructions on how to apply for accommodations through USF’s Student Accessibility Services can be found here. 

Should, despite reasonable accommodation (whether the candidate chooses to use the accommodation or not), a candidate’s existing or acquired disability/disabilities interfere with patient or peer safety, or otherwise impede their ability to complete MCOM’s educational program and advance to graduation, residency training, or licensure, the candidate may be denied admission or may be placed on a leave of absence or dismissed from the program.   Candidates will be responsible for providing or arranging transportation between their residence and locations for assigned clerkships and courses.

Professional education requires that the accumulation of scientific knowledge be accompanied by the simultaneous acquisition of skills, professional attitudes and behavior. Professional school faculty members have a societal responsibility to matriculate and graduate the best possible healthcare professionals. Thus, admission to the Morsani College of Medicine, School of Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation Sciences has been offered to those who present the highest qualifications for the study and practice of physical therapy. The technical standards presented below are prerequisite for admission to, progression in, and graduation from the College and School. Successful completion of all courses in the DPT curriculum is required in order to develop the essential knowledge, skills and professional attributes of a competent physical therapist.

Graduates of the Morsani College of Medicine’s School of Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation Sciences must have the knowledge and skills to function in a broad variety of clinical situations and to render a wide spectrum of patient care. The College and School acknowledges Section 504 of the 1973 Vocational Rehabilitation Act and PL 101‐336, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), but asserts that certain minimum technical standards must be present in prospective candidates for admission, progression, and graduation.

Technical Standards required for Admission, Progression and Graduation

Candidates for the DPT degree must have aptitude, abilities, and skills in five domains: 1) observation; 2) communication; 3) clinical skills and motor function; 4) intellectual-conceptual, integrative, and cognitive skills; and 5) behavioral attributes, socials skills, and professional expectation and must continue to meet these Technical Standards throughout their enrollment.   Fulfillment of the technical standards for graduation from the physical therapy program does not guarantee that a graduate will be able to fulfill the technical requirements of any specific residency program and/or clinical setting. Technological compensation can be made for some disabilities in these domains, but a candidate must be able to perform in a reasonably independent manner. The use of a trained intermediary would mean that a candidate’s judgment must be mediated by someone else’s power of selection and observation. Therefore, a trained intermediary cannot be used to assist candidates in accomplishing curricular requirements in the five domains specified above.

Technical Standards - The Five Domains


Candidates for the DPT degree must have aptitude, abilities, and skills in five domains: 1) observation and perception; 2) communication; 3) motor coordination and function; 4) cognition and integrative abilities; and 5) professionalism (mature and ethical conduct), and must continue to meet these Technical Standards throughout their enrollment.
Technological compensation can be made for some disabilities in these domains, but a candidate must be able to perform in a reasonably independent manner. The use of a trained intermediary would mean that a candidate’s judgment must be mediated by someone else’s power of selection and observation. Therefore, atrained intermediary cannot be used to assist candidates in accomplishing curricular requirements in the five domains specified above.

1. Observation


Candidates must be able to accurately perceive, by the use of senses and mental abilities, the presentation of information through:    

  • Small group discussions and presentations
  • Large-group lectures
  • One-on-one interactions
  • Demonstrations
  • Laboratory activities/experiments
  • Written material
  • Audiovisual material
  • Patient /Client Management
  • Examination (History, Systems Review, Tests and Measures) 
  • Interventions  

Candidates of the DPT degree must be able to obtain and interpret information through a comprehensive assessment of patients, correctly interpret data, and accurately evaluate patients’ conditions and responses.  

Candidates must have somatic sensation and the functional use of the senses of vision and hearing. Candidates' diagnostic skills will be lessened without the functional use of the senses of equilibrium, smell, and taste. They must have sufficient exteroceptive sense (touch, pain, and temperature), sufficient proprioceptive sense (position, pressure, movement, stereognosis and vibratory), and sufficient motor function, or the functional equivalent, to permit them to carry out the activities described in this entire section.  

Examples include, but are not limited to: monitoring pulse, blood pressure, and respiratory rate; monitoring alarms, emergency signals, and cries for help; monitoring input/output devices on equipment perceiving differences in anatomy and movement; dissection of cadaver; examination of specimens in anatomy and neuroanatomy; observing patient posture, gait, and movement, and patient responses to tests and measures or treatments.  

Candidates must be able to consistently, quickly, and accurately integrate all information received by whatever sense(s) employed, and they must have the intellectual ability to learn, integrate, analyze, and synthesize data.


2. Communication

Candidates must be able to communicate effectively and efficiently with patients, their families, health care personnel, colleagues, faculty, staff, and all other individuals with whom they come in contact. Candidates must be able to record information accurately and clearly; and communicate effectively and efficiently in English with other health care professionals in a variety of patient settings. Candidates must be able to:   

  • Obtain a medical history in a timely manner
  • Elicit information
  • Perceive, acknowledge, and respond to nonverbal communication
  • Convey information, verbally and in writing
  • Clarify information
  • Establish with rapport with colleagues
  • Establish therapeutic relationships with patients  

A candidate must possess reading skills at a level to be able to accomplish curricular requirements independently and provide clinical care for patients. Examples include, but are not limited to: communicating with peers, faculty, and clinical instructors in the classroom, lab, and clinic; answering oral and written exam questions, eliciting a complete history from a patient, presenting information in oral and written form to clinical instructors and patients, participating in sometimes fast-paced small-group discussions/interactions, participating in group dissections, and interacting with and responding to Course Directors and/or Administrators.


3. Clinical Skills and Motor Function

Candidates must, after a reasonable period of training, possess the capacity to perform physical examinations and therapeutic interventions. Candidates must have sufficient gross and fine motor function, tactile ability, and balance to:

  • Attend (and participate in) all classes, groups, and activities in the curriculum
  • Examine patients
  • Perform tests and measures
  • Perform diagnostic procedures
  • Provide general and emergency patient care
  • Function in outpatient, inpatient, home health, school, and wellness setting
  • Perform in a reasonably independent and competent way in sometimes chaotic clinical environments  

Physical Therapy candidates should be able to perform basic examination and evaluation procedures, design and carry out a physical therapy plan of care that addresses the patient’s impairments/functional limitations/activity limitations/participation restrictions, perform contemporary physical therapy interventions safely and effectively, and evaluate the response to those interventions. Candidates must meet applicable safety standards for the environment and follow universal precaution procedures.  

Examples include, but are not limited to: moving from classroom to classroom and around healthcare facilities which may include maneuvering in small spaces; administering CPR/AED procedures; moving patients from one location or surface to another; using examination instruments (goniometers, reflex hammers, rulers, etc.); applying physical resistance to a patient or moving a patient’s extremities; guarding/assisting a patient walking; lifting, carrying, pulling, or pushing an adult sized patient or medical equipment; using rehabilitation equipment; utilizing a computer keyboard, grasping objects or applying forces through hands or fingers; manual  assessment and intervention techniques; maintaining postures (e.g., sitting, standing) for extended periods of time.

Examples of emergency treatment reasonably required of physical therapist candidates include cardiopulmonary resuscitation, prevention of falls, application of pressure to stop bleeding, application of bandages, the opening of obstructed airways and the performance of patient transfer/transport maneuvers.


4. Intellectual-Conceptual, Integrative, and Cognitive Skills

Candidates must effectively interpret, assimilate, and understand the complex information required to function within the physical therapy curriculum, including but not limited to:   

  • Rational thought
  • Measurement
  • Calculation
  • Visual-spatial comprehension
  • Conceptualization
  • Analysis
  • Synthesis
  • Organization
  • Representation (oral, written, diagrammatic, three dimensional)
  • Memory
  • Application
  • Clinical reasoning
  • Ethical reasoning  

Examples include, but are not limited to: attending to, processing, and understanding information presented in written, verbal, and visual formats; synthesizing large amounts of material; successfully passing oral and written and laboratory exams; understanding ethical issues related to the practice of medicine; being able to think through medical issues and exhibit sound judgment in a variety of clinical settings, including emergency situations; making appropriate and timely patient care decisions; making concise, cogent, and thorough presentations based on various kinds of data collection; knowing how to organize information, materials, and tasks in order to perform efficiently; determining the appropriate sequence of events to effect successful treatment; collaborate and contribute as part of a team; reading and applying published evidence to clinical practice.


5.Behavioral Attributes, Social Skills, and Professional Expectations

Candidates must demonstrate the maturity and emotional stability required for full use of their intellectual abilities. They must accept responsibility for learning, exercising good judgment, and promptly complete all responsibilities attendant to their curriculum and to the care of patients. Candidates must display characteristics of accountability, altruism, collaboration, compassion and caring, duty, excellence, integrity, and social responsibility. Candidates must understand and demonstrate understanding of 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 in a courteous, professional, and respectful manner. The candidate for the DPT degree must accept responsibility for learning, and exercise good judgment. 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 have the physical and emotional stamina and resilience to tolerate physically taxing workloads and function in a competent and professional manner under highly stressful situations, adapt to changing environments, display flexibility, and manage the uncertainty inherent in the care of patients and the health care system. Candidates must abide by all state, federal, and local laws, as well as all University of South Florida codes of conduct. Candidates must maintain sobriety in all academic and clinical environments, and refrain from the illegal use of substances at all times.  

Candidates must be able to:   

  • Consistently display academic integrity, fairness, and respect for others.
  • Promptly complete all assignments and responsibilities attendant to the diagnosis and care of patients (beginning with study in the first year)
  • Communicate with, examine, and provide care for all patients – including those whose gender, ethnicity, culture, sexual orientation, or spiritual beliefs are different from the candidates' own.
  • Develop mature, sensitive, and effective relationships, not only with patients but with all members of the medical school community and healthcare teams.
  • Maintain sobriety in all academic and clinical environments, and refrain from the illegal use of substances at all times.
  • Abide by all state, federal, and local laws, as well as all University of South Florida codes of conduct.
  • Tolerate physically, emotionally, and mentally demanding workloads.
  • Function effectively under stress, and proactively make use of available resources to help maintain both physical and mental health.
  • Adapt to changing environments, display flexibility, and be able to learn in the face of uncertainty.
  • Take responsibility for themselves and their behaviors.

All candidates must be able to tolerate physically taxing workloads and to function effectively when stressed. They must be able to adapt to changing environments, display flexibility, and learn to function in the face of the uncertainties inherent in the clinical problems of many patients.  

Empathy, integrity, concern for others, interpersonal skills, interest, and motivation are all personal qualities that should be assessed during the admission and educational processes.   

Candidates must be able to fulfill commitments, be accountable for actions and outcomes, exhibit appropriate professional conduct, and represent the profession. Examples include, but are not limited to practicing safely, ethically, and legally.  

Candidates must be able to interact effectively with a diversity of people in a culturally competent and socially appropriate manner. Examples includes, but are not limited to interacting with peers, faculty, and clinical instructors in the classroom, lab, and clinic; and interacting with patients, families, and other individuals in the healthcare system.