Courses that focus on learning physical therapy clinical skills and knowledge are closely integrated with the basic sciences such as anatomy, kinesiology, and biomechanics. Pharmacology, imaging, and the medical management of patients are simultaneously covered in concert with the corresponding clinical courses. Physical therapy services through the lifespan, from pediatrics through geriatrics, are interwoven in the clinical courses and there are additional, specific courses that address the needs of these special populations served by physical therapists.
- SMU DPT students experience exceptional faculty support. We enroll 50 students each fall and have 10 full-time faculty members. In clinical lab courses, there is one faculty member for 10-12 students and in anatomy lab courses, there is one faculty member for 15-20 students. Each student is assigned faculty advisor who serves as a key contact throughout the program.
Students have integrated clinical experiences under the mentorship of physical therapists during which they are able to see patients who have problems similar to those being covered in the classroom. Students work with patients who have neuromuscular problems under faculty supervision in our Community Participant Lab during two trimesters. Two 8-week clinical experiences are interspersed after key trimesters so that classroom learning is reinforced with clinical experience. Clinical experiences start in the second trimester and are placed throughout the curriculum, culminating in a 22-week terminal clinical educational experience (TCEE).
- SMU DPT students have more clinical education experiences than the national average. Our students have 41 weeks (or ten months) of full-time clinical experiences, compared to the national average of 34 weeks.
The importance of communication and relationship between the PT and patients in a culturally diverse environment and the multiple roles of physical therapists in the health care system are addressed throughout the program in preparation for patient interactions during the clinical experience.