In accordance with, and in support of the mission of Georgia State University, the purpose of the Department of Physical Therapy is to prepare doctors of physical therapy who are committed to clinical excellence, professional distinction, and the pursuit of scholarly activities that contribute to the body of scientific and clinical knowledge.

As a faculty, we believe in:

  • Educating students to serve the physical therapy needs of society by alleviating and eliminating impairments, functional limitations, and disabilities in people of all ages, with acute and chronic conditions; in addition to promoting prevention and wellness in all people
  • Creating an interactive learning environment that is learner-centered, interactive, and facilitated by faculty members
  • Utilizing a variety of educational methods (e.g. didactic, case-based, reflective learning) to enhance critical thinking and clinical decision-making, while utilizing an evidence-based approach that promotes attitudes towards life-long learning.
  • Demonstrating professional behaviors of cultural competence, client-centered care, and interdisciplinary team collaboration
  • Engaging students in the scholarly pursuits (including clinical and basic science research)
  • Providing services to the broader community
  1. Prepare a competent physical therapist who is ready to work autonomously in a variety of settings throughout the continuum of healthcare.
    • Provide culturally competent physical therapy services for prevention, health promotion, fitness, and wellness, to individuals, groups and communities.
    • Provide a variety of clinical educational opportunities to allow students to perform competently across the healthcare continuum.
  2. Prepare a competent physical therapist who has obtained a sufficient level of knowledge in the foundational (basic, applied and social) and clinical sciences to understand the facts, concepts, and principles essential to competent evidence based practice.
    • Deliver and manage a plan of care that is safe, effective and patient client centered and incorporates all elements of the physical therapy management model as described in the Guide to Physical Therapist Practice.
    • Monitor and adjust the plan of care in response to patient/client status.
    • Provide physical therapy interventions to achieve patient/client goals and outcomes.
    • Consistently and critically evaluate sources of information related to physical therapy practice, research, and education and apply knowledge from these sources in a scientific manner and to appropriate populations.
    • Consistently integrate the best evidence for practice from sources of information with clinical judgment and patient/client values to determine the best care for a patient/client.
    • Use clinical judgment and reflection to identify, monitor, and enhance clinical reasoning in order to minimize errors and enhance patient/client outcomes.
    • Consistently apply current knowledge, theory, and professional judgment while considering the patient/client perspective in patient/client management.
  3. Prepare a competent physical therapist who recognizes the limits of current knowledge, clinical skill, and experience and demonstrate the commitment to acquire new knowledge and skill through lifelong learning.
    • Acquire new knowledge and skill: writing and presenting evidence based practice paper/research project, attend conferences and consult with colleagues
    • Facilitate reflective thinking using reflective journals, small group discussions
    • Utilize technology to access information
    • Formulate clinical patterns based on best available evidence for various patient populations.
    • Read literature, attend conferences, and consult with colleagues to examine and evaluate current and future trends to challenge the status quo of the practice of physical therapy.
  4. Prepare a competent physical therapist who embraces a multi-cultural learning environment that assists in the development of culturally competent physical therapy practitioners
    • Identify respect and act with consideration for patients’/clients’ differences, values preferences and expressed needs in all professional activities.
    • Effectively educate others using culturally appropriate teaching methods that are commensurate with the needs of the learner.
    • Provide culturally competent physical therapy services for prevention, health promotion, fitness and wellness to individuals, groups and communities
  5. Prepare a competent physical therapist who promotes interdisciplinary collaboration in the pursuit of clinical and scholarly activities.
    • Collaborate with patients/clients, family members, payers, other professionals, and other individuals to determine a plan of care that is acceptable, realistic, culturally competent, and patient/client-centered.
    • Develop and participate in inter-departmental research collaboration and education opportunities
  6. Prepare a competent physical therapist who supports professional, community, and clinical service opportunities and activities.
    • Incorporate pro bono services into practice.
    • Participate and show leadership in community organizations and volunteer service.
    • Advocate for the health and wellness needs of society.
    • Provide consultation within boundaries of expertise to businesses, schools, government agencies, other organizations, or individuals.
    • Participate in professional organizations
  7. Prepare a competent physical therapist who models professionalism consistent with the American Physical Therapy Association’s core values.
    • Adhere to legal practice standards, including all federal, state and institutional regulations related to patient/client care and fiscal management
    • Practice in a manner consistent with the professional code of ethics
    • Participate in organizations and efforts that support the role of the physical therapist in furthering the health and wellness of the public.
    • Place patient’s/client’s needs above the physical therapist’s needs.
    • Exhibit caring, compassion, and empathy in providing services to patients/clients.
    • Demonstrate integrity in all interactions with patients/ clients, family members, caregivers, other health care providers, students, other consumers, and payers.
    • Demonstrate professional behavior in all interactions with patients/clients, family members, caregivers, other health care providers, students, other consumers, and payers.
    • Expressively and receptively communicate in a culturally competent manner with patients/clients, family members, caregivers, practitioners, interdisciplinary team members, consumers, payers, and policy makers.
    • Influence legislative and political processes
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, Combined Sections Meeting, Annual APTA 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 sets forth on his or her final internship. 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 the literature.
  • Clinical Internships: Clinical internships provide an opportunity to integrate academic content into clinical practice. The clinical internships incorporate full time internships provided in the first fall semester, fourth, seventh, eighth and ninth semesters. Each student is required to complete 2 inpatient rotations and one outpatient rotation. The final rotation may be an area of specialty or another inpatient or outpatient rotation assignment.
    • The first internship is one week in length (observational); the second and third internships are 8 weeks in length. The final two internships, Clinic IV and V, are 10 weeks in length.
    • During the second internship, the student can expect to either complete the rotation in an acute care or an outpatient clinical setting.
    • During the third and fourth internships, the student may be assigned to an outpatient or inpatient (skilled nursing, rehabilitation or acute) setting.
    • During the fifth internship, as long as the student as met the program requirements, the student may be assigned to an area of specialty, which may include: pediatrics, geriatrics, sports, outpatient orthopedics, or acute care.
    • Students must budget approximately $5000.00 for travel and living expenses associated with the clinical internships. 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 experiences.

    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 concepts 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 health care 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.
  • The coordination of continuous care which clearly informs and educates patients 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.
  • Physical therapy education is the beginning step of professionalism and the lifelong commitment to the field and the pursuit of learning.