Visit the Physical Therapy page for more information. Download a fact sheet about SLU's physical therapy degree.
- Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science
- Doctor of Physical Therapy
- Entry-level Doctorate of Physical Therapy (DPT)
- Transitional Doctorate of Physical Therapy (tDPT)
Overview: Physical therapists provide care for people with movement impairments resulting from physical disability or pain. A physical therapist's duties may include the evaluation of clients, the implementation of treatment programs and delegation of patient care responsibilities to other health care practitioners.
Physical Therapy attracts individuals who generally like anatomy and sciences and wish to have a role in health care. Interested students also appear to enjoy challenges and have desires to help regain or sustain independence for individuals with movement dysfunction.
Curriculum: Students receive a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) at the culmination of the 6 year program. At the end of 4 years, the students receive a Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science. The purpose of our curriculum is to prepare the student for entry into the physical therapy profession as a general practitioner dedicated to personal and professional growth. The curriculum provides a foundation in the humanities and the biological, physical, and behavioral sciences and the professional knowledge and skills to begin the practice of physical therapy. The curriculum intentionally includes courses in philosophy and theology to help shape Judeo-Christian attitudes toward life.
The breadth in the liberal arts and sciences, the depth in the professional training, and the opportunity for inter-professional learning experiences, enable the student to think critically understand societal needs, value the dignity of life, respectfully care for others regardless of culture, background or needs, assess new developments in health care, and collaborate with other providers. Critical inquiry, physical development through the life span, effective communication, ethics, movement science, reflective problem solving, and screening/differential diagnosis are themes that serve as integrative elements throughout the curriculum.
Faculty: The faculty encourages and expects students to question, to practice critical evaluation of problems, to develop insight into personal biases and to communicate ideas effectively. The faculty fosters an environment that develops leadership skills, an attitude for service, effective interpersonal relationships, insight into societal and individual health care needs and the ability to respond creatively to advances in technology and to the development of new patterns for delivery of health care. Physical therapy faculty are members of the University culture that is committed to the discovery and sharing of knowledge. The discovery of knowledge is necessary to improve the quality of care delivered and advance the profession. Scholarly activities afford the faculty the opportunity to grow in areas of interest, to disseminate that knowledge, and bring recognition to the University.
Physical therapy faculty serves as ambassadors of the University and shares the Jesuit commitment to apply knowledge to the service of humanity. Service affords the faculty the opportunity to grow both personally and professionally, to provide leadership, and to exert a positive influence both within and outside the University. The faculty is responsible for sharing our expertise, assisting and guiding our students towards lives of service, sharing in the governance of the University, and increasing our awareness of the University community and global society.
Internships: Clinical practice is an important aspect of the curriculum. Students will be assigned to various clinical facilities to observe and practice skills learned in the classroom. While in the clinic, students may wish to explore and develop interests in special areas of physical therapy, such as care of children with disabilities, prevention and care of athletic injuries and rehabilitation of patients with coronary disease.
The degree of responsibility and complexity of involvement in patient care increases as students progress through the program. Initially, students practice the application of patient treatment procedures; later students carry out certain procedures under the direction of the clinical instructor. Finally, students are responsible, with guidance of the clinical instructor, to examine the patient evaluation and determine the treatment program. More than 280 health care institutions cooperate with the Physical Therapy program in providing such clinical experiences.
Careers: Graduates can practice physical therapy in a variety of settings and with a variety of patients/clients. Settings include: hospitals, outpatient clinics, athletic facilities, long-term rehabilitation or nursing homes, schools and patients' homes. The patients may have acute medical conditions,neurological, orthopedic or cardiopulmonary disorders, athletic or work-related injuries, and may be any age.
In addition to patient care, physical therapists serve as researchers, supervisors of clinical sites, faculty, and clinical instructors. Some graduates pursue additional degrees in physical therapy or other fields. All students learn information that allows them to interpret research for the improvement of patient care and to participate in clinical research.