Physical therapists are health professionals who work with individuals in preventing, evaluating, and treating physical dysfunction and injury. An understanding of human movement serves as the foundation for the practice of physical therapy. The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program faculty at the University of North Florida (UNF) provide students with the knowledge and skills to become practitioners of the highest caliber. UNF DPT students graduate from an accredited physical therapy program and are eligible to take the National Physical Therapy Exam (NPTE).
The Department faculty believe that students function best in an environment that fosters personal and professional growth. The learning environment is designed to challenge students to become confident, competent, and compassionate health care professionals able to practice autonomously and ethically within a changing health care environment. Students are encouraged to identify and accomplish goals within the areas of teaching/learning, research and service. Opportunities for development are provided by program requirements and activities on campus and in the community. Faculty and students are encouraged to mutually foster intellectual and professional development. This stimulation requires the use of creative and interactive approaches to teaching and learning. Scientific inquiry and clinical research are essential to maintaining a dynamic Department that responds to the health care needs of society and contributes to the professional knowledge base that shapes physical therapy practice.
The faculty regard physical therapy as a health-care profession having as its primary role the responsibility to meet the needs of society through health and wellness promotion; and the use of scientific principles to identify, assess, correct, or alleviate disability, impairment or movement dysfunction. The physical therapist promotes optimum health and function through the integration of elements of care that maximize patient outcome. A constantly changing health-care environment combined with a multiplicity of practice settings, professional commitment and accountability creates the need for the physical therapist to withstand social transformation. In a dynamic health-care environment the physical therapist needs to respond to the diversity of health care consumers and the circumstances for which they seek care with empathy, compassion and respect for the individual. This role for physical therapists requires critical and logical thinking and proficient problem solving through the use of examination, evaluation, diagnosis, prognosis and intervention strategies closely related to outcome management.
In addition to providing services, the physical therapist's role is to advocate for the advancement of the profession, strengthen health care policy and standards of practice, and strive to ensure the availability, accessibility, and excellence in the delivery of physical therapy services. In addition to the examination and intervention of individuals with physical disability, faculty and students endorse an important role for physical therapists in preventive health care. The Department of Physical Therapy seeks to develop leaders among faculty and students who will serve as agents and advocates for positive change.
Applicants to the DPT program must have completed a baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited college or university recognized by UNF prior to entering the program. The professional curriculum, all of which takes place at the Doctoral level, consists of approximately 104 credit hours taken over eight semesters. Applicants must comply with all requirements and procedures of UNF related to admission to and graduation from graduate level programs. The number of students admitted each year will be determined by the Brooks College of Health, in consultation with Department of Physical Therapy faculty, with consideration of the resources available to the DPT program, the quality and size of the applicant pool, and current market conditions. Typically 30 students will be admitted each year. Students who meet minimum requirements are not guaranteed admission to the program.