The entry-level, DPT program is designed around several important approaches to learning so that graduates excel in serving patients and clients as practitioners capable of autonomous decisions as part of a health care team. Courses are designed to progressively build critical thinking, clinical reasoning and decision-making skills with increasingly complex patient presentations. Courses that focus on learning the practice of physical therapy are closely integrated with the basic sciences such as anatomy, kinesiology, and biomechanics.
Pharmacology, imaging and the medical management of the patients courses are simultaneously covered in concert with the clinical practice application and skills courses. Reflective of a holistic approach to practice, students learn to focus their attention on physical as well as psychological and sociocultural factors that impact individuals physical movement abilities, including social and structural determinants of health. Practice considerations for physical therapy services through the lifespan, are interwoven in the patient/client management course series, focused on patients with musculoskeletal, neuromuscular, cardiopulmonary systems involvement and acute general medical conditions.
There is additional, specific course content that address the unique needs of other patient populations served by physical therapists, including pediatrics, geriatrics, and patients with amputations, wounds, and pelvic health concerns. Students have integrated simulated and real clinical experiences during their first and second year coursework under the mentorship of faculty and community-based physical therapists during which they are able to see patients who have conditions similar to those being covered in the classroom, so that classroom learning is immediately reinforced with clinical experience, and students are well-prepared for each clinical placement ahead of time. Students also provide free services to underserved community members under faculty supervision during three of their on-campus patient/client management courses, and in addition participate in a series of four Pro bono experiences courses threaded through the curriculum, where they also work side by side with faculty, providing free services to a variety of underserved populations in our local community.
The importance of communication and relationship between the physical therapist and patients in a culturally diverse environment, and the multiple roles of physical therapists in the health care system and as part of health care teams are also addressed throughout the program. Students finish the program by completing a longer terminal clinical experience, enabling them to graduate as skilled and confident physical therapist contributors to the health care teams they join as they begin their careers.There are many distinguishing features of the DPT program at Samuel Merritt University.* You will have multiple opportunities for hands-on active learning during the classroom portions of the curriculum. This includes extensive opportunities for simulated clinical practice in our state of the art Health Sciences Simulation Center.
* You will work with excellent faculty who are nationally recognized in their areas of expertise, which extend to not only specialty clinical practice areas but also include experts in best practices for optimal teaching and learning of graduate health professions students. These faculty have as their primary focus a dedication to work with our students to achieve their goal of becoming the best physical therapists they can be, and to provide the best care possible to their future patients.* Students are introduced to evidence-based practice in their first term in the program and these skills are developed and reinforced in all courses. During the program you will work in small seminar groups to develop an evidence-based capstone project, either a case report or a systematic review. Each year, some graduates are accepted to present their projects at major State and National conferences due to the high quality of their work.
* You will join a program, a faculty, and a University community dedicated to transforming the experience of health and health care for diverse populations.
Samuel Merritt University does not give preference to in-state applicants. We do provide incentive to those who attend an on-campus DPT Interactive Information Session at any time during their application process.