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Technical Standards

Applicants must possess certain skills in order to master the educational content of the physical therapy program at an acceptable level of performance within the time frames both provided in the curriculum and required for professional competence. These skills are needed to improve or maintain patient health by preventing and/or alleviating disability and improving independence of function, to achieve goals of physical therapy care that engage the greatest possible degree of patient motivation and cooperation within resource constraints, and to provide for periodic revision and appropriate discontinuation. This regimen should be appropriate to the patient¿s progress and physical and psychosocial status. All professional service must be provided in a manner that assures safety of clients, professionals, and technical staff.

Skills fundamental to the physical therapy profession and curriculum include:

  • Problem solving on the basis of verbal, visual, and written information within a limited time frame.
  • Clinical reasoning and decision making within a limited time frame.
  • Visual-spatial integration.
  • Perceptual motor integration.
  • Intermittent lifting of heavy loads.
  • Repetitive motion.
  • Insight and judgment for safety and prognostication.
  • Written and verbal communication among group members.
  • Planning and organizing for treatment prescription.
  • Time management to coordinate course requirements and clinical responsibilities.

These skills require that applicants have the abilities to meet technical standards established for this program. They are:

I. Participate in all phases of the educational program within the required time frame, including demonstrating comprehension of all classroom, clinical, and any other required learning experiences through performance and/or examination in order to:

A. Acquire all the specific skills and experiences necessary to successfully complete the physical therapy program and become eligible for licensure.

B. Apply basic principles of the scientific method in reading and interpreting professional literature, performing research, and critically analyzing new concepts and findings provided by others. Components of the scientific method include:

1. Identifying a professional problem or question.

2. Critiquing and synthesizing current theory related to the problem.

3. Integrating the relationship between current theory and the problem.

4. Generating a hypothesis and variables related to the hypothesis.

5. Devising a research protocol to test the research hypothesis.

6. Determining the resources required to perform the proposed research procedures.

7. Presenting a written research proposal.

8. Carrying out the protocol for purposes of collecting data.

9. Basing the interpretation of data collected on current theory.

10. Integrating the results into clinical practice or knowledge base.

11. Presenting the results in written and verbal formats.

C. Apply basic theoretical concepts in designing, implementing, and evaluating physical therapy interventions and in educating patients, families, and health care personnel involved in the patient's care. Components of education include:

1. Identifying the needs of the learner.

2. Analyzing the learner's current level of knowledge.

3. Determining what needs to be learned and stating that information to the learner.

4. Relaying the purpose for learning to the individual.

5. Reviewing the learner's previous knowledge related to the content.

6. Presenting the material at a level appropriate to the learner verbally and by demonstration.

7. Providing the learner an opportunity to practice the material presented.

8. Analyzing the learner's knowledge and providing feedback to the learner.

9. Augmenting the material as indicated by the learner's performance.

10. Relating the information to practical situations relevant to the learner.

II. Function appropriately in interpersonal relationships by exhibiting use of good judgment, empathy, reliability, and emotional stability; must possess the abilities to practice appropriately in stressful situations and to work well with others in order to:

A. Interact with patients and families in a manner providing the desired psychosocial support by:

1. Recognizing his/her own reaction to illness and disability.

2. Recognizing patients and families reactions to illness and disability.

3. Respecting individual, cultural, religious, and socioeconomic differences in people.

4. Using appropriate communicative processes, including:

a. Presenting and interpreting facial expressions and body language.

b. Monitoring voice intonation and enunciation.

c. Accepting and providing constructive criticism.

B. Demonstrate safe, ethical, and legal practice as stated by the profession.

C. Engage the greatest possible degree of patient motivation and cooperation in evaluation and treatment.

D. Function effectively with other health care practitioners in providing appropriate patient care and in improving the quality of patient care.

E. Respond to ideas and techniques that might be more appropriate, effective, or safe.

III. Communicate effectively with patients, their families, and health care practitioners in order to:

A. Instruct, confer, and integrate appropriate patient treatment with other aspects of patient care.

B. Stimulate motivation and cooperation in treatment and assist in the alleviation of anxiety.

C. Teach patients and their families procedures necessary for continued care.

D. Participate in the planning, organization, and control of a physical therapy service.

IV. Function appropriately in professional practice in order to:

A. Review and evaluate patient needs; specify which definitive physical therapy procedures are indicated by administering and analyzing the results of tests, measurements, and evaluations, including: gait analysis, vital signs, strength, coordination, joint range, and capsule integrity.

B. Plan and prepare treatment programs that:

1. Include realistic goals in terms of diagnosis, prognosis, physical and psychosocial status, and anticipated lifestyle of the patient.

2. Include effective treatment methods that provide a high probability of achieving treatment goals.

3. Are within resource constraints.

4. Provide for periodic revision according to changes in the patient¿s physiological state.

5. Contain specificity and comprehensiveness appropriate to the level of personnel who will execute the plan.

6. Are adequately documented.

C. Properly administer and/or modify physical therapy treatments in order for patients to perform functional activities safely.

The director of the Division of Physical Therapy welcomes questions or inquiries from individuals with disabilities regarding the standards and their application to each individual's unique situation. In each case, a determination will be made as to whether the individual is qualified for admission to the program and if reasonable accommodations can be made. While the Division of Physical Therapy is prohibited by federal law from making inquiries about specific disabilities prior to admission, applicants selected for admission must be prepared to meet the performance standards in order to complete the program.

Degree Requirements

Students must complete a residency of nine, continuous semesters of academic study, including thirty weeks of full-time clinical education. Throughout the program, the student devotes a minimum of thirty hours each week to classroom, laboratory, and clinical activities. Students are advised against employment during enrollment.

Students must successfully complete all courses in sequence. Satisfactory performance includes: completion of one hundred and forty-four semester hours with an overall average of B or above (a grade of B or above must be earned in all courses); successful completion of each clinical assignment with a grade of B or above; and recommendation for continuation each semester by the Academic Affairs Committee. For all degree programs, the majority of required credits for graduation must be earned at Emory University School of Medicine.

Special Standing

Individuals who wish to take courses in the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program, but who are not candidates for a degree, who do not have other Emory student status, may be admiited as a student in special standing with approval from the program. A maximum of 24 credit hours may be taken as a student in special standing. Admission as a student in special standing does not assure later admission or readmission as a degree or cerificate candidate. When a student in special standing is admitted or readmitted to candidacy, credits for coursework and residency taken in special standing may be counted toward degree or certificate requirements only with written approval by the program director and the dean. Special standing coursework approved to count toward degree or certificate requirements will be included in computing cumulative grade point averages (GPA).