Physical therapy (PT) is a challenging profession for men and women who are interested in the fields of science and medicine and who like to work with people. As an allied health profession, it involves the evaluation and treatment of individuals with a va riety of problems, such as musculoskeletal, neurological, and cardiovascular difficulties related to disability, injury, disease and aging. The therapist evaluates, plans, administers, and modifies treatment incorporating the use of physical measures, functional activities, and electrotherapeutic devices for restoring function and promoting independence. Physical therapy requires knowledge in biological, physical, and behavioral sciences such as psychology, gross and applied anatomy, physiology, and physics. It utilizes knowledge acquired through prerequisite foundational courses in the application of current treatment philosophies and therapeutic modalities.
Physical therapists work closely with physicians, occupational therapists, nurses, speech and language pathologists, psychologists and other members of the health care team. They practice in a wide variety of settings-including hospitals, rehabilitation centers, school systems, private offices, and the home and serve patients from all age groups. Whether patients are recovering from knee surgery, neck pain, carpel tunnel syndrome, or arthritis or learning to walk again after a stroke, physical therapists help them regain function by improving the ability of muscles, nerves, and joints to move efficiently and effectively.
Physical therapists also play a significant role in the prevention of injuries and movement disorders. They work as consultants in industrial settings to improve workplace design and reduce the risk of workers overusing certain muscles or developing low back pain. Physical therapists also screen athletes at all levels for potential problems and recommend preventive exercise programs. The growing emphasis on health and fitness of all Americans provides opportunities for physical therapists to consult with individuals and fitness clubs to develop workouts that are safe and effective, especially for people who already know they have a problem with their joints or back.
The Division of Physical Therapy at Florida A & M University was established in 1981, becoming the third physical therapy program in the State University System (SUS) of Florida. The first class of students was admitted to the baccalaureate program in 1982; the last baccalaureate class graduated in August, 2001. Currently, all applicants for the Doctor of Physical Therapy program must have completed a bachelor’s degree and have satisfied all FAMU graduate school admission requirements prior to admission to the program. Consistent with other SUS physical therapy programs, applicants accepted into the FAMU program will be admitted as graduate students in the 34-month professional curriculum.
Florida A&M University has been granted accreditation by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE) for the Doctor of Physical Therapy curriculum.
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A Doctor of Physical Therapy degree (DPT) is awarded upon successful completion of the curriculum. Also, the graduate is eligible to apply for the physical therapy licensing examination.
Applicants to the program must meet the minimum requirements for admissions, including: (1) a baccalaureate degree from an accredited college or university; (2) a grade-point average of 3.0 or better in the last 60 semester hours (or 90 quarter hours) of undergraduate work completed; or (3) possession of a graduate degree from an accredited institution of higher education; and (4) a preferred score of 300 on the verbal and quantitative sections of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). In addition to the above criteria, the overall science GPA is considered in the process of admission into the Division of Physical Therapy, entry-level doctoral degree program.
Applicants are required to submit an application to the School of Graduate Studies and Research admissions office, an application for admission to the Doctor of Physical Therapy program (DPT) in the School of Allied Health Sciences, an autobiographical essay (300-500 words), evidence of 20 hours of volunteer/observations/work experience in a physical therapy setting, two letters of recommendation, and an official copy of transcripts from all colleges or universities attended. Acceptance into the Florida A&M University School of Graduate Studies and Research does not guarantee acceptance into the physical therapy program.
The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) curriculum is built on a broad foundation of liberal arts, social sciences, and basic sciences. Therefore, applicants to the entry level master’s program must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution and must also be able to demonstrate, by official transcript completion of the physical therapy program prerequisites. Course-work within the professional curriculum challenges students to build on their undergraduate background by incorporating a balance of foundational and clinical sciences; critical inquiry; clinical practice; and studies of society, health care delivery, and physical therapy practice. The curriculum is designed to provide students with a combination of didactic and clinical experiences necessary to perform effectively and efficiently as entry level physical therapists, as well as to successfully prepare for the licensing process.
Standards of Academic Progression
Students in the program should complete the curriculum at the time and in the sequence that the courses are offered to allow completion of the program in the requisite 34 month time-frame. The policies below are designed to serve as a guide for students enrolled in the Division of Physical Therapy (DPT) program. It is the responsibility of each student to review and adhere to the policies and procedures pertaining to academic progression, grading, graduation, and clinical participation.
For the purpose of progression, only graduate level courses are allowed to be taken in the DPT Program. If undergraduate courses are taken while enrolled in the DPT program, they shall be taken only with the permission of the Director and those credits earned shall be excluded from GPA calculations.
The Minimum Grade Requirements for the Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program
For the purpose of academic progression
- Only a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher is acceptable within the DPT program.
- A course grade of a “D”, “F”, or “U”, is deemed a failing grade.
- Any failed course must be repeated.
- A student may repeat no more than two failed courses and each failed course only once.
- The failed course must carry the same course prefix, number, and description.
- The same course must be repeated in the order that it appears within the curriculum which may delay the graduation of the student.
- Both grades will be used in computing the student’s graduate GPA.
If a student’s graduate cumulative GPA falls below 3.0, documentation of the Academic status (Warning, Probation or Dismissal) will be imprinted on the student’s university transcript by the Registrar.
ACADEMIC WARNING, PROBATION, OR PERMANENT DISMISSAL
A graduate student whose cumulative GPA is less than 2.0 or who has a failing grade in more than 2 courses will be immediately dismissed from the DPT program and will not be permitted to enroll in graduate courses, unless the student has been admitted into another graduate program.
The academic requirements for the DPT include the satisfactory completion of the curriculum designated by the faculty. It is the responsibility of each student to review and adhere to these policies and procedures. If any student is having academic or behavioral problems, the DPT Academic Progress Committee (APC) will review the situation and make recommendations to the Division Director.
The APC will meet to assess the performance of each student once, at the end of each semester as needed to include review of any “I”, “D”, “F”, or “U course grades and their impact upon the student’s progress in the program.
Students must maintain a 3.00 cumulative grade point average (GPA) or better at the end of each semester of enrollment to be considered in good academic standing. If a student’s graduate cumulative GPA falls below 3.0, documentation of the Academic status (Warning, Probation or Permanent Dismissal) will be imprinted on the student’s university transcript by the Registrar. Additionally the student will be referred to the APC.
If at the end of any given semester a student’s cumulative GPA is below 3.00, the student will be sanctioned as follows.
- Academic Warning
A student will be placed on academic warning if:
- The student earns less than a 3.0 cumulative GPA in any one (1) semester of the Doctor of Physical Therapy program.
Documentation of the academic warning will be placed on the student’s university transcript by the registrar.
- Academic Probation
A student will be automatically placed on academic probation if:
- The student earns less than a 3.0 cumulative GPA (i.e. GPA between 2.00 to 2.99) in two consecutive semesters of the DPT program.
Documentation of the academic probation will be placed on the student’s university transcript by the registrar.
- Permanent Dismissal
A student will be permanently dismissed from the DPT program without any opportunity for further appeal for retention for any of the following reasons
- If the APC recommends dismissal which is then endorsed by the division director;
- If an appeal is successful and the student does not earn a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or better in the subsequent semester following the suspension; or
- If a student obtains a second warning and does not earn a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or better the following term after the second warning; or in any semester after the second warning.
- If the student’s cumulative GPA is less than 2.0
- If the student has a failing grade in more than 2 courses, or has failed the same course twice.
In addition to the above standards of progression, all students must have a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.0 in order to graduate from the Doctor of Physical Therapy program. Students must also score at least 70% or better on the physical therapy program’s comprehensive examination.
A student is ineligible for clinical placement, while on academic warning, probation, or suspension. Additionally, a student, who has failed a course or who has received an “I” (incomplete) grade is ineligible for clinical placement until the course has been successfully completed with a “C” or better.
The physical therapy curriculum at FAMU includes opportunities for “hands-on” experiences as well as classroom instruction. Under the supervision of a licensed physical therapist, students have the opportunity to problem-solve and to apply knowledge and skills under “real world” conditions. Three full-time internships (non-paid) are scheduled throughout the program, totaling over 1200 clock hours. The final semester of the program consists of two eight-week internships. Practically all internships are out-of-town. The assignments are usually within the State of Florida, although there are a number of clinical sites that are located throughout the United States.
Clinical centers are selected based on criteria endorsed by the Commission on Accreditation of Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). While students are encouraged to provide input in the clinical placement process, the academic coordinator of clinical education has the ultimate responsibility for clinical assignments.
Prospective students should realize that, in all probability, they will have to stay at an out-of-town location for a period of time ranging from eight to sixteen-week blocks. Cost of living expenses, housing and travel arrangements as well as all other expenses incurred during clinical internships are the sole responsibility of the student. Expenses (including lodging, utilities, meals, possibly airfare, local transportation/gasoline) will depend on factors such as the geographical location, the length of the affiliation, family support in the area, etc. By far, the location of affordable housing for internships presents the greatest challenge to students.
Associate Professors: Brown-Cross, Dawn; Thomas, Tracy;
Assistant Professors: Dalal, Rajiv; Reaves, Phyllis; Reed, Kischa S.; Smothers, Bernard
Visiting Professor: Gendy, Sherif