PT Program Description

Description of Program
The School of Allied Health Professions at the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) offers a program leading to the Doctor of Physical Therapy degree. The program requires a minimum of 3 years undergraduate study prior to admission to the three-year professional program at UNMC. The Division of Physical Therapy Education, established at UNMC in 1970, is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education and approved by the Nebraska Department of Education. UNMC enjoys full accreditation by the Higher Learning Commission and is a member of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

Students in the Division of Physical Therapy Education at the University of Nebraska Medical Center receive a comprehensive entry-level education in a program that includes didactic and clinical coursework, including full-time clinical experience. Upon graduation, students qualify to sit for licensure examination.

Expected Student Outcomes upon Completion of the Entry-Level Program:

  1. Demonstrate the ability to competently apply the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health Enablement (ICFDH) and Patient/Client Management models in the delivery of physical therapy services.
  2. Function competently in the four major practice areas (musculoskeletal, neurological, cardiopulmonary and integumentary) for readiness to practice in variety of physical therapy settings upon entry into practice.
  3. Provide appropriate physical therapy services for prevention, health promotion, fitness and wellness to individuals, groups, and communities.
  4. Demonstrate the ability to provide appropriate patient-centered care (practicing ethically and professionally, with cultural competence/sensitivity, with age specific competencies, cost effectively and safely).
  5. Demonstrate effectiveness while working as a member of an interprofessional team (flexibility and adaptability, effective interpersonal relationships and communication, self-direction and responsibility, dependability/reliability, initiative and cooperation, gives and receives constructive criticism).
  6. Demonstrate the ability to critically evaluate and apply evidence as the basis for physical therapy practice (critically review published literature, utilize clinical research, use information technology).
  7. Demonstrate commitment to professional development and service, including outreach to underserved populations.

Curriculum Overview
The professional program is three years in length. Learning opportunities include lecture-laboratory courses, seminars, independent study opportunities, laboratory practical examinations and supervised clinical practice. The curriculum provides opportunities to develop abilities in teaching, supervision, administration, and research in physical therapy. Although a thesis is not required, opportunities exist for interested students to actively participate in research in a number of areas. Patient simulations using various levels of technology are included throughout the curriculum (see the virtual tour of the Clinical Skills Center in the Michael Sorrell Center in this website). In addition, there are service learning and leadership opportunities available in UNMC student-run clinics. The Division reserves the right to modify the curriculum as necessary to comply with accreditation standards and to reflect advancements in the health sciences.

Clinical Education
The clinical education component of the curriculum provides students the opportunity to directly apply the physical therapy theories and techniques acquired during the classroom instruction, as well as the opportunity to acquire knowledge, skills and attitudes best learned in the clinical environment. The intent of clinical education is to provide the student with a broad exposure to physical therapy practice in a variety of settings and geographic locations. The clinical education component is under the direction of the Director of Clinical Education.

Currently, the clinical education component of the curriculum consists of 34 weeks over the course of the three year professional program. Clinical education requirements vary with different admissions tracks, but attempts will be made to have all students participate in at least one clinical experience in a rural community. Clinical experiences are scheduled in advance and are subject to change at the discretion of the clinical education site or the office of the Director of Clinical Education.

Some clinical education sites may require an assigned student to undergo a criminal background check and/or drug screening prior to participation in a clinical education experience.

NOTE: Travel and living expenses for clinical education should be anticipated. No student will be allowed to complete all clinical education experiences in the Omaha/Lincoln area.

Health Information
Students are not permitted to enroll at UNMC until a medical history and evidence of vaccinations or immunities are provided to the Student Health Services Clinic. Students are required to provide physician certification of the following: a previous vaccination for rubella or evidence of an immune titer, tetanus inoculations within the last 10 years, Rubeola (measles), vaccination for mumps and polio or documentation of having the disease previously, history of or evidence of immune titer to varicella (chicken pox). Students are strongly encouraged to receive the Hepatitis B vaccine prior to matriculation or to start the vaccination process upon matriculation.

All full-time students within the program are required to have health and accident insurance through a student health insurance program contracted by UNMC unless evidence of comparable coverage is provided.

Academic and Professional Standards
Students must receive a passing grade of "C-" or better or "Pass" in all courses and maintain an overall quality grade point average of 2.33 (on a 4.0 scale) or above. Grades of less than "C-" are considered as failing within the physical therapy program. Physical therapy education requires the student to demonstrate skills of observation, communication, sensory, intellectual-conceptual, integrative and qualitative abilities, and professionalism. As such, students must successfully meet all of the program's performance standards by passing all laboratory practical examinations and clinical education experiences, in addition to successful completion of didactic work. The standing of a student in any course is determined by the instructor of the course by examinations, laboratory and clinical performance, class participation, written assignments, personal observation, and other methods of evaluation.

Americans with Disabilities Act
Students enrolled in the DPT program are expected to meet the Essential Functions set forth by the UNMC Division of Physical Therapy Education in order to be eligible for graduation. Sections 502 of the Federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (1990) give students with disabilities certain rights with regard to student and staff services and the curriculum. For information on the process for requesting accommodation for disability, please contact: Services for Students with Disabilities, Counseling and Student Development Center, Bennett Hall room 6001, phone (402) 559-7276.