Doctor of Physical Therapy Admissions

Technical Standards


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

Physical therapy education requires that the accumulation of scientific knowledge be accompanied by the simultaneous acquisition of skills, professional attitudes and behavior. Medical school faculties have a responsibility to society to matriculate  and graduate the best possible physical therapists. Technical standards
presented in this document are prerequisite, non‐academic requirements for admission, progression and graduation from the University of South Florida DPT Program. Definition of technical standards is required for the accreditation of our program by CAPTE. All required courses in the curriculum are designed to develop the essential skills necessary to become a competent physical therapist.
Historically, physical therapy education in the U.S has been structured as a broad general training, which is intended to produce "general practitioners". Graduates of physical  therapy school must have the knowledge and skills to function in a broad range of clinical situations and to render a wide spectrum of patient care. The Morsani College of Medicine intends for its students and graduates to become competent and compassionate health care providers through an undifferentiated degree and who are capable of entering practice and/or residency training while meeting all requirements for licensure. Criminal background checks and urine drug screens will be conducted as part of the process of admission, participation, promotion, and/or graduation. For purposes of this document and unless otherwise defined, the term “candidate” means candidates for admission to the DPT program as well as enrolled physical therapy students who are candidates for promotion and graduation.
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 University of South Florida Morsani College of Medicine endeavors to provide reasonable accommodations for qualified individuals with disabilities who apply for admission and are enrolled as physical therapy students.
Should, despite reasonable accommodation (whether the candidate chooses to use the accommodation or not), a candidate’s existing or acquired disability(ies) interfere with patient or peer safety, or otherwise impede their ability to complete USF MCOM’s SPT&RS educational program and advance to graduation, residency training, or licensure, the candidate may be denied admission or may be separated or dismissed from the program.

Technical Standards

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.

Observation and Perception

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
o    Examination (History, Systems Review, Tests and Measures)
o    Interventions                                                                                 
Candidates for the DPT degree 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 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; observing patient posture (static and dynamic) 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.


Candidates must be able to communicate skillfully (in English) with faculty members, other members of the healthcare team, patients, families, and other students, in order to:
•    Elicit information
•    Perceive, acknowledge, and respond to nonverbal communication
•    Convey information, verbally and in writing
•    Clarify information
•    Create rapport
•    Develop therapeutic relationships

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; and communicating with patients, families, and other healthcare practitioners

Motor Coordination and Function

Candidates must have sufficient gross and fine motor function and tactile ability 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.
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; 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.

Cognition and Integrative Abilities

Candidates must be able to demonstrate higher‐level cognitive abilities, which include:
•    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; making appropriate and timely patient care decisions; reading and applying published evidence to clinical practice.

Professionalism: Mature and Ethical Conduct

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 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, to display flexibility and to learn to function in the face of 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 arena.