DPT Curriculum

Spring 2019 Doctoral Commencement

Curriculum Overview

The UF DPT Program consists of 8 semesters with 113 total credit hours and 32 weeks of full-time clinical education experiences. The DPT professional curriculum builds from foundational course work and community engagement experiences leading to integrated and applied learning, further synthesized through didactic and real-world case applications, part and full-time clinical experiences. Incorporated within the DPT professional curriculum are 5 distinct threads (i.e., content presented in most courses with explicit structured goals) providing the basis for therapeutic alliances to meet the movement needs of patients/clients within our research, clinical and community-engagement areas of influence:

graphic of the DPT Curriculum Threads

The curriculum has been established along three basic educational principles that are instilled in the philosophy and mission of the program. First, it is necessary that a strong basic science background in the biological, kinesiological and behavioral sciences be established as the foundation upon which the curriculum is developed. Secondly, incorporation of principles underlying logical reasoning and the scientific method shall be woven throughout all aspects of the curriculum. These principles shall be explicitly stated in the design and content of each course; they shall be implicitly stated in the faculty’s behavior as role models through their incorporation of their research and clinical practice experiences into the classroom setting. Third, students will recognize that the practice of physical therapy is empowered by the collaborative efforts of the team, ensuring a partnership of people working towards a common goal. This principle is instilled in the students throughout the content of the curriculum and is exemplified by the faculty’s collaborative teaching and research efforts.

  • Movement, Exercise & Activity Prescription: Physical therapists promote optimal human performance, function, and health, and understand the array of complex behaviors that are essential to generating or supporting purposeful movement. Purposeful movement relies on physiological processes that interact to initiate, execute, and sustain movement of the body or its component parts. In turn, human movement influences human function from the molecular to the whole person, and influenced by social, environmental, and personal factors.
  • Becoming a Professional: Professional development is an adaptive, dynamic process involving development of cognitive, affective, and psychomotor skills and behaviors; life-long, reflective, and self-directed learning; and professional responsibility to self and others. Professional formation requires embracing and applying the APTA Core Values (accountability, altruism, collaboration, compassion and caring, duty, excellence, inclusion, integrity, and social responsibility), the APTA Code of Ethics, appropriate professional behaviors, effective communication, and collaboration throughout classes, interprofessional, community engagement and clinical encounters.
  • Clinical Reasoning: Critical thinkingis the cognitive process of defining a problem and making sound, evidence-informed choices. A cornerstone of physical therapist education, Clinical Reasoning incorporates the patient/client perspective, and augments critical thinking; leveraging iterative and adaptive capacities with reflective, meta-cognition for decision-making, along with incorporating psychological and contextual factors of the patient/client’s lived experiences, for appropriate strategies to improve the health of the individual, community, and/or society. Clinical reasoningis multi-faceted and entails sense-making of the patient/client encounter through gathering and analyzing patient/client information, evaluating the relevance of the information, and deciding on actions to improve outcomes and patient/client management. The process requires the integration of critical thinking with evidence-informed, reflective, and adaptive practice to identify the most appropriate interventions, management and/or referrals needed to  improve the patient/client’s condition/s.
  • Evolving Practice: Physical therapists practice in increasingly complex environments with patients and clients who have complex diseases and multiple co-morbidities. These individuals are living longer with chronic, non-communicable multi-system diseases. Additionally, changes in health care, including artificial intelligence, innovative research, technological advances, care-delivery strategies, and payment models, are evolving rapidly in ways that have an impact on physical therapy service delivery. Contemporary evidence requires translation and integration for patients in clinical practice. Physical therapists work collaboratively in intra/interprofessional teams capable of accessing and synthesizing multiple sources of information efficiently to make effective, evidence-informed decisions while considering the impact of these decisions for the evolving lifespan and complete continuum of care.
  • Inclusion, Diversity, Equity & Accessibility: Every person brings multiple identities and backgrounds to interpersonal interactions in their personal life, in educational and workplace environments, and during the care of patients/clients. Health inequities, access to and quality of care, and outcomes adversely affect groups of people based on their Social Determinants of Health. Physical therapists treat patients/clients of all ages, abilities, cultures, racial and ethnic populations and strive to create a climate for a sense of belonging for all people representing multiple dimensions of diversity.