Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Sciences

Essential Function

Download & Sign:  PT Essential Functions

Physical Therapy students must demonstrate competency in all of the following learning domains:

  • Observation
  • Communication
  • Psychomotor Skills
  • Intellectual and Cognitive Abilities
  • Professional and Social Attributes
  • Ethical Standards


Candidates must be able to accurately observe close at hand and at a distance to learn skills and to gather data (e.g., observe an instructor's movements, a patient's gait or verbal response, a chemical reaction, a microscopic image, etc.). Candidates must possess functional use of the senses that permit such observation.


Candidates must be able to communicate effectively and efficiently. Candidates must be able to process and comprehend written material.

Psychomotor Skills

Candidates must have sufficient motor capacities and mobility to safely execute the various tasks and physical maneuvers that are required within each program. Candidates must be able to display motor functioning sufficient to fulfill the professional roles toward which each program educates.

Intellectual and Cognitive Abilities

Candidates must be able to measure, calculate, reason, analyze, synthesize, integrate, remember and apply information. Creative problem-solving and clinical reasoning require all of these intellectual abilities. In addition, specific programs require that candidates must be able to comprehend three-dimensional relationships and understand the spatial relationships of structures.

Professional and Social Attributes

Candidates must exercise good judgment and promptly complete all responsibilities required of each program. They must develop mature, sensitive, and effective professional relationships with others. They must be able to tolerate taxing workloads and function effectively under stress. They must be able to adapt to changing environments, display flexibility, and function in the face of uncertainties and ambiguities. Concern for others, interpersonal competence and motivation are requisite for all programs.

Ethical Standards

A candidate must demonstrate professional attitudes and behaviors and must perform in an ethical manner in dealings with others. All programs require personal integrity and the adherence to standards that reflect the values and functions of the profession. Many programs also require students to honor the codes of ethics.

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