2009-2010 Graduate Catalog


Graduate Studies in Physical Therapy

Jack Williams, Dean, College of Health Sciences
John S. Halle,
Associate Dean, School of Physical Therapy

John S. Halle (Associate Dean), Renee Brown, Gail Bursch, Nancy S. Darr, Kathleen Galloway, Cathy Hinton, Kevin Robinson, Patrick Sells, Michael L. Voight


The School philosophy conveys the faculty's beliefs that graduates should be prepared to function as primary health care providers for persons with movement disorders, and to maximize the physical and psychological potential of individuals or groups through the demonstration and instruction of health promotion strategies. In order to competently assess and provide intervention for patients, graduates require an in-depth knowledge of the basic and applied sciences, need to possess critical thinking skills, and must be able to intellectually bridge theory with practice. Integration of the psychosocial, cultural and ethical elements of patient care is also essential. The faculty believes in the importance of creating an environment that is intellectually challenging, as well as one which offers unique opportunities for learning and collaboration.
The goals and objectives of the School directly relate to the mission and philosophy of the College of Health Sciences. Individual courses have been designed to include learning experiences that allow graduates to meet the stated objectives. Learning experiences are presented in each course syllabus. Additional opportunities may be available for the student to be involved in independent and collaborative study in specialized areas, collaborative work in research, and multiple occasions for the development and practice of teaching skills.

Goals and Objectives:

The prioritized goals of the Belmont University Doctorate of Physical Therapy Program are to prepare physical therapists to:

1. practice as generalist physical therapists utilizing critical thinking and evidence-based practice to provide exceptional care guided by compassion and integrity.
2. serve as autonomous practitioners of choice for persons with conditions that affect movement, function, and health and wellness.
3. provide education to patients, caregivers, peers, students, other healthcare providers, and the community.
4. actively assume responsibility for the advancement of the physical therapy profession and the health and well-being of the people it serves.
5. critically evaluate professional literature, identify researchable problems, advocate and participate in research, and incorporate findings to advance clinical practice.
6. crrically evaluate and adhere to ethical, policy and regulatory guidelines that affect the profession and the people it serves.
7. employ continuous self-assessment to implement a professional development plan that reflects changes in healthcare and society.

The objectives of the DPT program will prepare graduates to:

1.   demonstrate mastery of entry-level clinical skills, including patient examination, evaluation, diagnosis, prognosis, intervention, reexamination, education, outcomes and prevention.
2.   demonstrate in-depth knowledge of the basic and clinical sciences relevant to physical therapy and its application within professional clinical practice.
3.   demonstrate professional and compassionate behaviors to all persons.
4.   communicate verbally and non-verbally in a professional manner.
5.   demonstrate the ability to make independent clinical decisions in direct access and other clinical environments.
6.   develop and implement relevant and effective education for patients, caregivers, peers, students, other healthcare providers, and the community.
7.   participate in the physical therapy profession.
8.   function as active members of the healthcare team.
9.   advocate for the physical therapy profession and those it serves.
10. develop and defend clinical decisions based on best available evidence.
11. successfully complete and present the results of a research project.
12. abide by relevant ethical codes and standards of practice guidelines.
13. identify and address situations in which ethical and legal questions are present.
14. regularly assess personal professional development.
15. implement a self-directed plan for professional development and lifelong learning.

Physical Therapy Curriculum and Teaching Philosophy

The faculty of the School of Physical Therapy have identified critical thinking, inquiry and ethical decision making as essential skills necessary for life-long professional practice. Many of the Program objectives, course objectives and learning experiences are designed to further develop these essential skills. It is also the opinion of the faculty that the best initial building block for development of these skills is a strong foundational knowledge of the basic sciences, coupled with an understanding of the theoretical concepts underlying physical therapy practice.

The curriculum is designed to teach the student that the achievement and maintenance of health is best promoted by the health care practitioner who possesses a thorough understanding of how the human body is designed and functions and who is then also able to communicate this information to diverse populations in a variety of settings. Acquisition of this knowledge and these skills is supported by a learning environment that is intellectually challenging, open to collective and independent learning opportunities, and experientially broad enough to encourage collaboration with peers, clients, family members and anyone else deemed appropriate within and external to the discipline of physical therapy. Students are taught that successful communication and collaboration requires not only factual knowledge, but also the awareness and appreciation of various learning styles coupled with an understanding of individual- and population-specific social concepts, values and ethical behaviors. Additionally, each student is involved in a small group research project that culminates in a professional presentation of the scientific finding or scholarly work.

The curriculum design reflects a "building block design" where a foundation of basic science and applied clinical science serves as the "cornerstone" for further development of the clinical, social and behavioral sciences.

  Professional Entry-Level Doctorate of Physical Therapy

The mission of the Belmont University Physical Therapy program is to prepare a graduate who possesses the knowledge, skills, values, and behaviors needed by today's health care practitioner to provide a foundation for adapting to the future changes in the health care environment and who is committed to lifelong professional learning. The three-year professional education curriculum culminates in the Doctorate of Physical Therapy. The physical therapy curriculum at Belmont University has been developed to provide physical therapists with a strong foundation in basic health sciences and an understanding of the theoretical basis for physical therapy practice. The goal of this program is to prepare a generalist physical therapy practitioner with critical thinking abilities who can bridge theory and practice and demonstrate excellence in the performance of general clinical skills.

Initial course work emphasizes foundational sciences: anatomy, physiology, pathology, kinesiology, and movement theory. Subsequent course work stresses physical therapy clinical science – the body of knowledge which comprises the profession of physical therapy. Professional socialization issues – ethical, social, legal, communication, management, education, diversity, lifespan perspective and scientific inquiry – are carefully woven through each course in the curriculum. Courses in management, education, sociology of health care, and critical inquiry prepare students for the multiple roles of the physical therapist.

Four learning activities occur each semester with close coordination of these activities within and across individual courses: knowledge acquisition, skills laboratories, integration seminars, and experiences in clinical settings. Additionally, each student is involved in a small group research activity that spans the three-year curriculum and culminates in a professional presentation of the scientific finding during the final semester of the program. Part-time clinical experiences, incorporated into specific clinical science courses, occur in local physical therapy clinics. Four full-time clinical experiences, each eight weeks in length, occur in clinics nationwide.

Academic Policies

Admission to the professional entry-level Doctorate of Physical Therapy degree program is based on qualifications and space availability. Admission is awarded without regard to gender, race, color, age, religion, national origin, or handicap.

A. Requirements for Admission to Graduate Program

Applicants to the professional entry level Doctorate of Physical Therapy degree program must have completed or shown evidence of substantial work toward the following in order to be considered for full admission:

A. A completed supplemental application form with the $50.00 nonrefundable application fee.
B. Possess a baccalaureate degree from an accredited college or university (degree in any field) or be in the senior year of undergraduate study. A completed bachelor's degree is required prior to admission, as evidenced by an official college/university transcript.
C. Completion of all prerequisites within ten years prior to application.
D. Minimum overall of both undergraduate and, if applicable, graduate grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale).
E. Minimum prerequisite grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale). The prerequisite course work includes:

* Chemistry: 6-8 hours, two semesters with a lab in each
* Physics: 6-8 hours, two semesters with a lab in each
* Biology: 6-8 hours, two semesters with a lab in each
* Human Anatomy and Physiology: 6-8 hours, two semesters with a lab in each
* Statistics: 3 hours
* Behavioral Science Courses: 6 hours

F. Competitive scores on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) taken within the past five years (School Code is 1058, Physical Therapy Code is 0619).
G. Demonstration of familiarity with physical therapy in the form of a minimum of 50 hours of observational, volunteer, and/or work experience in physical therapy.
H. Official transcripts for all college and university course work completed.
I. Two recommendations from faculty, academic advisors, or employers addressing the applicants ability, interest, and motivation for pursuing study in physical therapy. One letter of recommendation must be from a licensed physical therapist.
J. The Physical Therapy Program Admissions Committee will review the application to select the final group of applicants for interview and further review. These applicants will be invited to continue in the admission procedure by participating in the on-site portion of the admission process.

B. Limitation on Completion of Requirements

A graduate student in the Doctorate of Physical Therapy program must complete all degree requirements within a six-year period. Time limits shall be computed from and will include the first semester of credit applied to the degree program.

C. Probation and Suspension

It is essential that students make satisfactory progress toward their degree in terms of consistency and performance. Unsatisfactory progress will result in the following actions:

Condition   Action
GPA less than 3.0   Probation
"F" grade in any course   Dismissal
Failure to enroll in a term   Inactive Status

Students on probation must raise their cumulative GPA to 3.0 or better within the next two semesters. Students must have a 3.0 GPA before starting any full-time (8-week) clinical. If a student fails to meet this criterion, the student is automatically dismissed from the program. Any student who is dismissed may apply for readmission.

D. Repeating Courses

If a student wishes to repeat a course, the student will state this request in writing the rationale and foundations for this request. The request will be forwarded to the Associate Dean, School of Physical Therapy. The Associate Dean will forward this request to the Physical Therapy faculty for review, discussion and decision. The Associate Dean will then make a decision on the request. If the request is approved, the course must be repeated the next semester the course is offered. The last grade will be the permanent grade recorded, and the student's GPA will be recomputed accordingly. No course may be repeated more than once.