Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education
The Department of Physical Therapy serves the people of the commonwealth of Virginia and the nation by providing educational programs related to physical therapy. The department provides an environment that encourages education through problem solving, free inquiry, professional behavior and scholarship. The department’s primary focus is to prepare individuals for general physical therapy practice. These practitioners are educated to serve as an entry point into the health care system for consumers. Post-professional programs provide quality education leading to careers in teaching and research. The department also provides assistance and services to the community and engages in research and scholarly activities related to the practice of physical therapy.
Preparation of physical therapists
VCU’s Department of Physical Therapy offers a three-year degree program leading to a Doctor of Physical Therapy. The program prepares students for entry into the profession by teaching them to evaluate and manage patients with physical therapy problems effectively and in accordance with ethical principles. It also provides students with strategies to continually define and meet their own educational needs in order to keep skills and knowledge current throughout their professional careers.
Expected student outcomes
Satisfactory performance in the experiences provided in the Doctor of Physical Therapy program prepares the graduate to:
- Demonstrate professional behavior in a manner consistent with APTA Code of Ethics and APTA Core Values
- Adhere to legal practice standards, including all federal, state and institutional regulations related to patient/client care and fiscal management
- Communicate effectively with all stakeholders, including patients/clients, family members, caregivers, practitioners, interprofessional team members, consumers, payers and policymakers
- Adapt delivery of physical therapy services with consideration for patients’ differences, values, preferences and expressed needs in all professional activities
- Integrate basic principles of critical inquiry to evaluate, interpret and utilize professional literature in clinical practice, participate in clinical research activities, and critically analyze new concepts in the application of physical therapy practice
- Apply current knowledge, theory and professional judgment, while considering the patient/client perspective, the environment and available resources
- Determine, with each patient encounter, the patient’s need for further examination or consultation by a physical therapist or referral to another health care professional
- Perform a physical therapy patient examination using evidenced-based tests and measures that are appropriate to the patient’s age, diagnosis and health status
- Evaluate data from the patient examination (history, systems review, and tests and measures) to determine a diagnosis, prognosis, client goals and expected outcomes that guide future patient management
- Establish and manage a safe and effective physical therapy plan of care that is consistent with professional obligations, interprofessional collaborations, and administrative policies and procedures of the practice environment
- Perform physical therapy interventions in a competent manner to achieve patient/client goals and outcomes
- Educate others (patients, caregivers, staff, students, other health care providers, business and industry representatives, school systems) using relevant and effective teaching methods
- Produce accurate documentation that follows guidelines and specific documentation formats required by state practice acts, the practice setting and other regulatory agencies.
- Collect and analyze data from selected outcome measures in a manner that supports accurate analysis of individual patient and group outcomes
- Direct and supervise personnel to meet patient’s goals and expected outcomes according to legal standards and ethical guidelines
- Demonstrate a commitment to lifelong learning and the physical therapy profession by serving as an advocate for the profession and the health care needs of society
VCU Graduate Bulletin, VCU Graduate School and general academic policies and regulations for all graduate students in all graduate programs
The VCU Graduate Bulletin website documents the official admission and academic rules and regulations that govern graduate education for all graduate programs at the university. These policies are established by the graduate faculty of the university through their elected representatives to the University Graduate Council.
It is the responsibility of all graduate students, both on- and off-campus, to be familiar with the VCU Graduate Bulletin as well as the Graduate School website and academic regulations in individual school and department publications and on program websites. However, in all cases, the official policies and procedures of the University Graduate Council, as published on the VCU Graduate Bulletin and Graduate School websites, take precedence over individual program policies and guidelines.
Visit the academic regulations section for additional information on academic regulations for graduate students.
Degree candidacy requirements
A graduate student admitted to a program or concentration requiring a final research project, work of art, thesis or dissertation, must qualify for continuing master’s or doctoral status according to the degree candidacy requirements of the student’s graduate program. Admission to degree candidacy, if applicable, is a formal statement by the graduate student’s faculty regarding the student’s academic achievements and the student’s readiness to proceed to the final research phase of the degree program.
Graduate students and program directors should refer to the following degree candidacy policy as published in the VCU Graduate Bulletin for complete information and instructions.
Visit the academic regulations section for additional information on degree candidacy requirements.
As graduate students approach the end of their academic programs and the final semester of matriculation, they must make formal application to graduate. No degrees will be conferred until the application to graduate has been finalized.
Graduate students and program directors should refer to the following graduation requirements as published in the Graduate Bulletin for a complete list of instructions and a graduation checklist.
Visit the academic regulations section for additional information on graduation requirements.
A hard copy of the VCU D.P.T. program student handbook and policies and procedures manual is distributed to each entering physical therapy student at orientation.