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Degree Offered

DPT Doctor of Physical Therapy

Program Length and Locations

The program is three years in length, starting in August and ending three years later in May. The program will be offered on the UNMC campus and on the University of Nebraska Kearney campus.

Degree Requirements (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.

Description of the Physical Therapy (PT) Program

The College 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 bachelor's degree 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 Colleges.

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.

Program Goals and Expected Outcomes

  1. Upon completion of the entry-level DPT program, the students/graduates will be successfully prepared for entry-level employment as licensed physical therapists.
  2. Upon completion of the entry-level program, the students/graduates will be prepared to successfully provide evidence-based, patient-centered care as members of an interprofessional team.
  3. Upon completion of the entry-level DPT program, the students/graduates will demonstrate commitment to professional development and service, including outreach to underserved populations.
  4. The faculty will conduct scholarly activities that contribute to the evidence and influence change in clinical and educational practice.
  5. The faculty will participate in a variety of professional service activities consistent with the expectations of faculty within the CAHP and University.
  6. The program provides educational and professional development opportunities beyond the entry-level degree curriculum to a variety of audiences.

Admissions Requirements

Enrollment in each program is limited and competitive. Evaluation of the qualifications of each applicant and the final selections for admission are made by the admissions committee of each program, which comprises program faculty and administration.

Required Degree

You must have a bachelor’s degree, in any field, from a regionally accredited institution prior to Orientation in August. All applicants are required to present a minimum overall quality point average of 3.0 on a 4.0 grading scale. For further information on how various grade point averages are calculated, see the Application Instructions published by Physical Therapy Centralized Application Service (PTCAS) for the current admissions cycle.

Required Courses

The following prerequisite course work must be completed by July 15 preceding the intended fall semester date of enrollment.  Required courses must be taken for letter grades. Credits for courses in which grades below “C-“ were received, are not accepted in fulfillment of the individual course prerequisites listed below.  

Biological Sciences:  14 hours minimum

  • One course of human anatomy with lab – 4 hours
  • One course of human physiology with lab– 4 hours
    • The anatomy and physiology requirements can be fulfilled by a series of two courses of combined anatomy and physiology.
    • Exercise physiology does not fulfill the human physiology requirement.
    • If labs are not offered in anatomy and physiology at your institution, please include a course description for review by the admissions committee.
    • No online labs will be accepted.
  • Two courses in Biology (labs optional) – 6 hours. Any lab based course from a biology department will be accepted. 

Chemistry: 8 semester hours

  • Each course must include a lab. No online labs will be accepted.
  • A two-semester chemistry sequence is required. Courses designed for science or health science majors are preferred. (Example:  General Chemistry I and II, or one semester of General Chemistry and either Organic or Biochemistry.)

Physics: 8 semester hours

  • Each course must include a lab. No online labs will be accepted.
  • A two-semester physics sequence is required. Courses must include mechanics, heat, light, sound and electricity.  Physical Science will not fulfill this requirement.  

Statistics

1 course

Psychology

1 course

  • One course in either Abnormal or Developmental/Life Span Psychology.

Social Sciences

1 course

  • One course from any of the following departments/subjects:  anthropology, community health, criminal justice, cultural geography, ethnic studies, human sexuality, marriage/family, personal health, psychology (course taken in addition to psychology requirement above), social science, social work, sociology, or women’s studies. 

Highly Recommended (Not Required) Courses

  • One writing intensive course in any area.

How to Apply

For information on how to apply to the Physical Therapy Program, visit the "How to Apply" website. For information on application deadlines and interview dates, visit the "Application Deadline" website.

Certification

Graduates of accredited physical therapy education programs are eligible to sit for the National Physical Therapy Exam (NPTE), which is administered by the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy, in order to be licensed in the state(s) in which they wish to practice.

It is the position of the American Physical Therapy Association that:

Physical therapists are licensed and physical therapist assistants should be licensed or otherwise regulated in all U.S. jurisdictions. State regulation of physical therapists and physical therapist assistants should at a minimum:

  1. require graduation from an accredited physical therapy education program (or in the case of an internationally-educated physical therapist, an equivalent education)
  2. require passing an entry-level competency exam
  3. provide title protection
  4. allow for disciplinary action

Additionally, physical therapists’ licensure should include a defined scope of practice.

For more information, visit the APTA website.

About the Profession

Physical therapists are health care professionals who evaluate and treat people with health problems resulting from injury or disease. Physical therapists assess joint motion, muscle strength and endurance, function of heart and lungs, and performance of activities required in daily living, among other responsibilities. Treatment includes a broad range of therapeutic exercise techniques, cardiovascular endurance training, and training in activities of daily living.

Additional information about physical therapy, including listings of all accredited physical therapy and physical therapist assistant educational programs may be found at American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), or may be requested from:

APTA
111 North Fairfax Street
Alexandria, VA 22314
1-800-999-APTA

Career Outlook

There is a high demand for physical therapists. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of physical therapists is expected to grow by 36 percent from 2012 to 2022, much faster than the average for all occupations. While demand for physical therapists varies by geographical region and area of practice, the unemployment rates are low across the country. The need for physical therapists is expected to remain strong as the US population ages and the demand for physical therapy services grows. (Taken from the apta.org website)

Although many physical therapists practice in hospitals, more than 80% practice in other settings. For more information regarding the many practice settings in which physical therapists practice go to http://www.apta.org/PTCareers/Overview/.

Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook

Curriculum

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 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. Please note, travel and living expenses for clinical education experiences should be anticipated.

First Year - PT 1 (late August - July)

Second Year - PT 2 (late August - mid June)

Third Year - PT 3 (late August - mid May)

Plan of Study Grid
First Year
FallCredit Hours
GCBA 571 STRUCT OF HUMAN BODY 9
CIP 606 INTERMEDIATE PHYSIOLOGY 6
PHYT 502 FOUNDATIONS OF PHYSICAL THERAPY PRACTICE 3
 Credit Hours18
Spring
PHYT 505 MUSCULOSKELETAL PHYSICAL THERAPY I 5
PHYT 511 INTEGUMENTARY PHYSICAL THERAPY 2
PHYT 512 NEUROMUSCULAR PHYSICAL THERAPY I 3
PHYT 550 CLINICAL EDUCATION I 2
PHYT 640 CRITICAL INQUIRY I 3
NRSG 605 PATHOPHYSIOLOGY FOR ADVANCED PRACTICE NURSES I 3
 Credit Hours18
Summer
PHYT 506 FUNCTIONAL MOBILITY 2
PHYT 510 PHYSICAL AGENTS 3
PHYT 522 PSYCHOSOCIAL ASPECTS OF HEALTH CARE 2
 Credit Hours7
Second Year
Fall
PHYT 605 MUSCULOSKELETAL PHYSICAL THERAPY II 4
PHYT 610 CARDIOPULMONARY PHYSICAL THERAPY 4
PHYT 615 FUNCTIONAL EXERCISE PROGRESSION 3
PHYT 616 NEUROMUSCULAR PHYSICAL THERAPY II 4
PHYT 630 PREVENTION & WELLNESS 2
PHAR 570 PHARM HLTH CARE PROFES 3
 Credit Hours20
Spring
PHYT 606 MUSCULOSKELETAL PHYSICAL THERAPY III 4
PHYT 612 PEDIATRIC PHYSICAL THERAPY 4
PHYT 614 PHYSICAL THERAPY MANAGEMENT OF INDIVIDUALS WITH CHRONIC HEALTH CONDITIONS 2
PHYT 617 NEUROMUSCULAR PHYSICAL THERAPY III 3
PHYT 622 PRACTICE MANAGEMENT SKILLS IN PHYSICAL THERAPY I 1
PHYT 624 ORTHOTICS & PROSTHETICS 3
PHYT 740 CRITICAL INQUIRY II 3
 Credit Hours20
Summer
PHYT 650 CLINICAL EDUCATION II (8 weeks) 8
 Credit Hours8
Third Year
Fall
PHYT 720 DIFFERENTIAL DIAGNOSIS I 2
PHYT 722 PRACTICE MANAGEMENT SKILLS IN PHYSICAL THERAPY II 2
PHYT 726 PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT IN PHYSICAL THERAPY 2
PHYT 727 DIFFERENTIAL SCREENING FOR PHYSICAL THERAPISTS 2
PHYT 742 SPECIAL TOPICS (Elective) 1-2
PHYT 750 CLINICAL EDUCATION III (8 weeks) 8
 Credit Hours17-18
Spring
PHYT 751 CLINICAL EDUCATION IV (8 weeks) 8
PHYT 752 CLINICAL EDUCATION V (8 weeks) 8
 Credit Hours16
 Total Credit Hours124-125

Curriculum subject to change without notice.