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2012-2013 Undergraduate & Graduate Catalog

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Physical Therapy - Program Description

For additional information about opportunities your college offers, please refer to the College of Health Professions section in this catalog.

College of Health Professions

Department of Physical Therapy

Degree: Doctor of Physical Therapy


The Doctor of Physical Therapy program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE), 1111 North Fairfax Street, Alexandria, Virginia 22314; Telephone: 703-706-3245; email: [email protected]; website:



Chairman: Peck. Professors: Peck, Stevenson; Associate Professors: Alderink, Hoogenboom, Vaughn; Assistant Professors: Baker, Goehring, Green, Harro, Kenyon, Kinne, Ozga, Ritch, Shoemaker, Sobeck, Stickler; Clinical Faculty: Barr, Chapin, Uglietta.

Career Description

Physical therapy is the care and services provided by or under the direction and supervision of a physical therapist, including (1) examining clients with physical impairments, functional limitations, and disabilities or other health-related conditions in order to determine a diagnosis, prognosis, and intervention; (2) designing, implementing and modifying therapeutic interventions to address impairments and functional limitations; (3) preventing injury, impairments, functional limitations, and disability, including the promotion and maintenance of fitness, health, and quality of life in all age groups; and (4) engaging in consultation, education, and research.

Physical therapists provide clients, infants through elderly adults, with services at the preventive, acute, and rehabilitative stages directed toward achieving enhanced functional independence. Physical therapists interact and practice in collaboration with a variety of health professionals. They educate and inform others about the services they offer and their effective and cost-efficient delivery. Physical therapists are required to be licensed by the states in which they practice.

Career Opportunities

Physical therapy provides excellent employment potential. The field continues to show growth in clinical responsibilities and in new areas of clinical practice. Some examples of settings in which physical therapists are employed include acute care hospitals, rehabilitation settings, outpatient offices, sports medicine clinics, athletic teams, school systems, centers for the disabled, skilled nursing facilities, home health care, industry, research centers, and universities.


To advance the profession of physical therapy through excellence in education, scholarship and service.


Our vision is to produce reflective physical therapy practitioners who demonstrate excellence in clinical practice, education, consultation, and research to meet the physical therapy needs of society. We strive to transform students personally and professionally. We challenge our students to achieve distinction in examination, evaluation, intervention, outcomes, and prevention of movement dysfunction. In addition, we nurture the development of leadership, for both faculty and students, to address societal health care needs, link evidence to practice, and make ethical decisions.

Core Values

  • Professional and ethical behavior
  • Respect and appreciation of differences
  • Lifelong learning
  • Excellence in teaching, scholarship, practice
  • Appreciation of personal well-being
  • Collegiality and collaboration
  • Social responsibility
  • Evidence-based practice
  • Reflective practice
  • Advocacy
  • Leadership

Undergraduates Interested in Physical Therapy

Incoming freshmen should select a major and work with an academic advisor in that department, as well as with the student services pre-physical therapy advisor. Suggested majors include but are not limited to health professions, biology, biomedical science, biopsychology, movement science, and athletic training. All of the physical therapy prerequisite curriculum course requirements must be taken for a letter grade.

DPT Admission Requirements

Physical therapy applicants: Applications, recommendation forms, and supplementary materials for the Doctor of Physical Therapy program may be obtained from the Admissions Office and website of Grand Valley State University or online at the PT program website For first consideration for admission, the application and all supplementary materials must be returned to the Admissions Office by October 15 of the calendar year preceding the year in which the student wishes to begin the professional curriculum. An annual class of 48 students is admitted. Students are accepted for fall entrance only and will be informed of the Admissions Committee's decision by a mailing.

Admission to the Doctor of Physical Therapy program is competitive. The criteria for acceptance includes the following:

1. Receipt by October 15 of official transcripts from all community colleges, four-year colleges, universities, and other institutions of higher education attended.

2. Completion of the following prerequisite coursework. All prerequisites must be taken for letter grades; each prerequisite must be completed with a letter grade of "C" or better. The prerequisites and the undergraduate degree must be completed by the first day of class of the professional program. Students in process of completing these must submit a written plan (include course name, number, credit hours, semester, and university) outlining courses and degree completion.

3. Academic achievement. All applicants must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.2 overall and 3.2 average in prerequisite course requirements to be considered for admission.

4. Acceptable GRE scores submitted prior to October 15.

5. Recommendations. Two recommendations must be submitted on university forms prior to October 15. One must be from a licensed physical therapist. These forms are available from the website

6. Abbreviated resume. Educational, scholarly, volunteer, leadership, and work experiences/activities must be documented on GVSU PT forms (available on the PT website) and submitted prior to October 15.

7. Observational experience. A minimum of 50 hours of observational experience is required. The experience may be on a volunteer or paid basis. Examples of clinical settings include in-patient, out-patient, extended care, and school.

8. Communication and interpersonal skills. Onsite interviewing may be required. Practice interviews are available by contacting Career Services at (616) 331-3311.

9. Technical standards. Individuals must be able to perform all technical standards of the physical therapy program. This is available for viewing on the website:

10. Foreign born student applicants must be able to communicate well in English. The following minimal scores are expected: TOEFL 610 or computer based TOEFL 253. TOEFL scores must be received by October 15.

Reasons to Attend PT at GVSU

  • Faculty credentials include 8 with Ph.D., Ed.D., J.D., and 9 with clinical specializations in orthopedics, neurology, geriatrics, manual therapy, pediatrics and sports.
  • 35+ Adjunct faculty.
  • Curriculum includes research experience for all students.
  • Four advanced electives (sports PT, spinal manual therapy, neurologic PT and pediatric PT).
  • Thirty-eight weeks of full-time clinical internship in 5 settings across the United States.
  • State of the art facilities and equipment.
  • Four major hospitals close by to provide educational experiences.
  • 100% Pass-rate on licensure examination.

Graduate Assistantships

Graduate assistants work with physical therapy and college faculty, administrators and staff to provide quality education, research and service. Qualified candidates are selected on the basis of aptitude, interest and background.

Professional Conduct

The physical therapy faculty values will mentor the following student abilities: commitment to learning, interpersonal skills, communication skills, effective use of time and resources, use of constructive feedback, problem-solving, professionalism, responsibility, critical thinking, and stress management. Definitions and criteria will be provided upon entry into the program.

General Degree Requirements

General graduate academic policies and regulations can be found in the Undergraduate and Graduate Catalog.

The physical therapy faculty assumes the responsibility to assure the public that our students have met high standards of professional behavior and academic achievement. We require that students attain a minimum of 80 percent competency in each learning module. These modules are defined by faculty and are reflected in each course syllabus across the professional curricula.

Criminal background and drug screen checks are required prior to participation in full-time clinical experiences. The cost of this evaluation will be the responsibility of the student.

Program Location

  • Semester 1 is at Pew Campus Cook-DeVos Center for Health Sciences and Allendale campus.
  • Semester 2-6 and 8 are at Pew Campus Cook-DeVos Center for Health Sciences.
  • Clinical experiences are in Michigan and other selected states during semesters 3, 5, 7, & 9.

DPT Completion Requirements

Demonstration of completion of the 120 credits in the professional curriculum is required for completion of the Doctor of Physical Therapy.

Graduate Outcomes

Students graduate in 36 months. Students may take the national licensing exam during their last semester or after graduation. 90%+ pass the exam on the first attempt. 100% pass with subsequent attempts. 100% are successful at job placement in Michigan and across the United States.

Progression, Retention and Severance Progression

A student must achieve passing grades in every course to meet the prerequisite requirement of the next semesters courses. Any course grade that results in probation may result in the student being held back one year. A grade of F always results in the student being held back a year. A graduate GPA less than 3.0 always results in dismissal from the graduate school.

Grounds for Probation

  1. A final course grade below a 2.7 (B-) in a 500, 600, or 700-level PSY, PT, or STA course.
  2. A final grade below a 2.0 (C) in a 400-level BMS course.
  3. A final grade of "no credit" in PT 636, PT 656, PT 675, PT 677, PT 681 or PT 696.
  4. A cumulative graduate level GPA less than 3.0 (B) after completion of nine hours of graduate level course work (i.e., at the end of semester one).
  5. Evidence of unethical or illegal behavior while matriculating as a student in the PT program. Examples include but are not limited to, plagiarism, cheating, misdemeanor and felony crimes.

Clinical Education

Students will not be allowed to participate in clinical experiences if there is a reason to believe that they are unprepared for this type of experience. Sufficient reason include:

  1. Probationary status.
  2. Questions about the student's ability to safely manage patients.
  3. Evidence of unethical or illegal behavior.
  4. Medical or psychological conditions which could endanger the safety of the student or the patients entrusted to them, or that prevent the student from fully participating in the clinical experience.
  5. Problems identified with professional behaviors may result in a student being regarded by faculty as unprepared for clinical assignment. With the assistance of faculty, the student must resolve the problem area prior to the clinical assignment.
  6. Clinical education courses are sequenced (I, II, III, IV, V). If a student does not satisfactorily complete one course, he/she may not progress to the next course without completion of remedial work or repeat of the course.

Grounds for Severance from the PT Program

Any one of the following items may constitute grounds for severance from the program:

  1. Failure to complete required remedial work at the required level.
  2. Failure to complete items required in a remediation contract.
  3. Final grades that result in probation during two consecutive semesters.
  4. Failure to demonstrate "continued competency," of past course content.
  5. Evidence of unethical or illegal behavior while matriculating as a student in the PT program.
  6. Cumulative graduate GPA of less than 3.0.

The following program is available:

Doctor of Physical Therapy

If you are in need of assistance please submit any questions or comments.