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The Physical Therapy Program at FIU

The Department of Physical Therapy at Florida International University offers the Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree, which is a three-year, 113-credit program. Each cohort of approximately 55 students follows the identical degree plan with a strict retention policy that is aligned with that of the University Graduate School.  34 weeks (20 credit hours) of clinical education, didactic courses are primarily face-to-face and delivered in classroom or clinical laboratory format. Due to accreditation expectations, students are divided to form three lab groups.

The graduation rate from 2009 to 2011 yielded a 94% average. To date, all FIU DPT students that pass the licensing exam following graduation are employed. From 2009 to 2012, the mean minority enrollment in the FIU Department of Physical Therapy was 69%. For the same period, the national average was 17%.

According our accreditation body, “the professional physical therapist education curriculum has two components: didactic and clinical. The didactic component includes classroom and laboratory experiences, involving foundational (biological, physical, and behavioral) sciences, clinical sciences and physical therapy sciences. The didactic component is designed to provide students with the knowledge, skills, attitudes and behaviors that are needed for entry into the practice of physical therapy. By its nature, however, the didactic component cannot provide students with the opportunity to apply their knowledge, skills, attitudes and behaviors in the “real world” of physical therapy practice. Thus, the curriculum includes a clinical education component that typically involves experiences in clinical sites away from, and outside the direct control of, the academic institution.”

In 2010, the FIU Department of Physical Therapy began to use the Physical Therapy Clinical performance Instrument (PT CPI) from which to list Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs). Clinical Instructors (CIs) are asked to evaluate a student’s clinical performance during their internship. They evaluate the student at mid-term and at the end of the clinical experience. Student ratings for their fourth and final clinical internship are used to determine SLOs. There are 18 target behaviors to which the CI, via an analog scale, can rate the student. For the 2012 graduating class (n=48), 95% of students were rated as entry level and above on these target behaviors on their final clinical affiliation.

The FIU Physical Therapy Department is active in pursuing grant funding from government and well-known philanthropic sources, such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, to support departmental research. Research faculty collaborates with other colleges/departments, including Engineering, Business, Nursing and Occupational Therapy. All five tenure-track faculty have either published or submitted papers to peer-reviewed journals. Four of five clinical faculty have co-authored for research publications. Over the last three years, the faculty has published 32 papers in peer-reviewed journals.

The Department recently received the Linda Crane Award from the Florida Physical Therapy Association and received NIH funding with respect to FIU’s Haitian Disaster Response Initiative Sub Project: “Assessment and Primary Intervention of Recent Traumatic/Surgical Amputations in Haiti” (NIH Center for Minority Health, October 2010, $125,000).

The FIU Physical Therapy Department continues to obtain federal funds to support our students. The Scholarships for Disadvantaged Students (SDS) program promotes diversity among health profession students and practitioners by providing scholarships to full-time students with financial need from disadvantaged backgrounds who are enrolled in health professions and nursing programs. Dr. Helen Cornely was Principal Investigator on recent grants for a total of $2,841,195.

Facts At a Glance

  • The Florida Board of Governors approved the Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree for implementation at Florida International University in Fall 2007.
  • The program is a 9-semester, 113-credit course of study leading to the Doctor of Physical (DPT).
  • There are 34 weeks of clinical education.
  • To the best of our knowledge, employment of our graduates from the program is 100%.
  • The Physical Therapy Department admits 54-58 DPT students annually.
  • The Physical Therapy Department currently has 158 enrolled students. The demographics of our students are:
          White          49%
Hispanic 26%
Asian 9%
Black 6%
Unspecified 10%