Return to: 5160 Department of Physical Therapy
Curriculum Design and Constructs
Several concepts interwoven throughout the curriculum provide a framework for application of clinical skills and professional development. These concepts include:
- Using published literature as course readings in order to integrate concepts of research, theory, and critical inquiry into class discussion. These address controversies in practice and the need for evidence gathered by practitioners to contribute to the establishment of new treatments, validate the efficacy of current practice, and enhance clinical outcomes.
- Incorporating professional behaviors into each course which include safety, ethics, personal responsibility and accountability, cooperation with other healthcare providers, and recognition of one’s own professional limitations. Faculty will model these behaviors as well as discussing and encouraging them.
- Instructing students with a comprehensive, patient-centered healthcare model that identifies, respects, and cares about patient differences with regard to values, preferences, and expressed needs.
- Coordinating of continuous care which clearly informs and educates clients to share in the decision making and management of their care. The faculty advocates disease prevention, wellness, and healthy lifestyles with a focus on population health.
- Emphasizing physical therapy education as the beginning step of professionalism and the lifelong commitment to the field and the pursuit of learning.
The curriculum is divided into five categories of study and clinical internships spread across the three years of the program:
- Biological/Clinical Science: (e.g. Anatomy, Pathophysiology, Neuroanatomy, Movement Sciences, Functional Anatomy). Basic sciences are presented in two areas: biological sciences and clinical sciences. The biological sciences provide the background for the study of normal and impaired movement; the clinical science component concerns the etiology, medical, surgical, therapeutic, and pharmacological management of deviations from homeostasis.
- Patient Management and Intervention: (e.g. Acute, Medical, Surgical Pathology, Musculoskeletal, Geriatric, Pediatric, Neuromuscular, Cardiopulmonary, and Integumentary with corresponding Interventions courses). Patient management courses reinforce a model of examination, evaluation, diagnosis, prognosis, intervention, outcome, and discharge planning utilizing the Guide to Physical Therapist Practice of the APTA.
- Professional Practice: (e.g. Doctoring Profession, Psychosocial Aspects of Disability and Disease, Management). Professional practice courses discuss health care delivery in various practice settings and the role of the PT as a member of the health care team. Each professional practice course is designed to address different issues that impact the delivery of physical therapy services within the health care system. This includes an examination of different practice settings, psychology of disability, teaching and learning activities, communication, health policy, structure of the health care delivery system, documentation, reimbursement issues, administration, management, and clinical decision making. In addition, time is incorporated into the curriculum to allow students to attend professional meetings, including the annual National PT Student Conclave, Annual APTA Combined Sections Meeting, and State PT (PTAG) Association meetings.
- Evidence-Based Practice and Research: Emphasis is on the role of critical inquiry and current evidence in clinical decision-making and research. Components include research design, data collection, and statistics. Each student participates in small group research projects with a limited focus that complements on-going faculty research. The projects must be completed in the final year before the student graduates. Projects involve outcome studies, quality assurance studies, descriptive analysis, or other forms of secondary analysis. Students are prepared to disseminate their findings by platform and poster presentations, as well as through publications.
- Clinical Education Experiences: Clinical experiences provide an opportunity to integrate academic content into clinical practice. The experiences incorporate full-time clinicals provided in the second, fourth, seventh, eighth and ninth semesters. The first experience is one week in length and occur during the first fall semester. The second through fifth experiences are 8-10 weeks in length. Each student must complete two inpatient rotations which may include an acute and/or rehab rotation (or skilled nursing facility) and an outpatient rotation. The additional rotation may be completed in a setting of the student’s choice. Students must budget for travel and living expenses above the cost of tuition for clinical experiences. A student should understand that he/she is likely to be assigned to clinical sites outside of Georgia for one or more of the clinical education experiences.
The sequence in which the courses are offered can be changed, and students may be allowed to register for a course out of sequence on a case by case basis upon approval by Department Chair.