Technical Standards Of Performance

The mission of the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, Department of Physical Therapy is to prepare knowledgeable and competent physical therapists who perform as autonomous independent practitioners. The granting of the DPT degree to a student signifies that the holder is an individual who has satisfied the training requirements for a Physical Therapist.  It is the responsibility of the faculty to select applicants who are best qualified to complete the required training and most likely to become skilled, effective physical therapists.  Applicants and students will be judged not only on their scholastic achievement and ability, but also on their intellectual, physical and emotional capacities to meet the essential requirements of the schools curriculum.  The Admissions Committee is instructed to exercise judgment on behalf of the faculty to select the entering class, and to consider character, extracurricular achievement, and overall suitability for the physical therapy profession based upon information in the application, letters of recommendation and personal interviews. 

Physical Therapist education requires that the accumulation of scientific knowledge be accompanied by the simultaneous acquisition of skills and professional attitudes and behavior.  The essential requirements presented in this document are pre-requisite for admission, academic advancement and graduation from the University of Maryland Eastern Shore.  All courses in the curriculum including ongoing self-directed learning are required in order to develop essential knowledge, attitudes and skills required to become a competent physical therapist.

Graduates of the Department of Physical Therapy must have the attitudes, knowledge and skills to function in a broad variety of clinical situations and to render a wide spectrum of patient care.  The UMES PT Department is committed to complying with various State and federal laws which prohibit discrimination against persons with disabilities, including but not limited to Section 504 of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act (29 U.S.C. § 794 et seq) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) (42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq.,) and, as required by law, will make necessary and reasonable accommodations, including modifications of activities and curriculum, for qualified applicants and students with disabilities.  As described below, all persons including qualified persons with disabilities, who are admitted to the PT program, are expected to be able to meet these essential Technical Standards of Performance in order to advance academically in the program and to graduate with a degree from the Program.

The University of Maryland Eastern Shore will consider for admission to the Physical Therapy Department any applicant who demonstrates the ability to perform or to learn to perform the skills listed in this document.  Deficiencies in knowledge base, skills base, judgment, integrity, character, or professional attitude or demeanor, which may jeopardize patient care or otherwise make a student unfit to perform as a physical therapist, may be grounds for course or affiliation/practicum failure and possible dismissal.

Students entering the PT Program are required to possess the essential cognitive, physical and behavioral abilities to assimilate knowledge and develop skills and professional judgment.  Through patient care experiences students develop appropriate decision-making skills in clinical practice with collaboration among other health professionals.

Aptitudes, Abilities and Skills

A candidate for the Physical Therapy Program must have or attain admission aptitude,  abilities, skills within a reasonable time in five areas:  observation; communication; sensory and motor coordination and function; intellectual conceptual, integrative and quantitative abilities; and behavioral and social attributes:

  1. Observation: A student must be able to observe demonstrations and learn from experiences in the basic and clinical sciences determined essential by the respective faculties.  A student must be able to observe a patient accurately at a distance and at close hand, noting non-verbal as well as verbal signals.  Observation necessitates the functional use of the sense of vision and other sensory modalities.
  2. Communication: A student must be able to speak intelligibly, to hear adequately, and to observe closely patients in order to elicit and transmit information, describe changes in mood, activity and posture, and perceive non-verbal communications.  A student must be able to communicate effectively and sensitively with patients.  Communication includes not only speech, but reading and writing.  In addition, the student must be able to communicate effectively and efficiently in oral and written English with all members of the health care team.  A student must possess reading skills at a level sufficient to accomplish curricular requirements and provide clinical care for patients.  The student must be capable of completing appropriate medical records, documents and plans according to protocol in a complete and timely manner.
  3. Sensory and Motor Coordination and Function:  Students must have gross motor, fine motor and equilibrium functions required to carry out assessments (palpation, auscultation, percussion and other evaluative maneuvers) and to provide physical therapy intervention.  A student should be able to execute motor movements required to provide therapeutic intervention (patient transfers, exercise and application of modalities) and emergency treatment to patients.  Quick reactions are necessary not only for safety, but for one to respond therapeutically.  Such actions require coordination of both gross and fine muscular movements, equilibrium and functional use of the senses of touch and vision.

    Candidates for the PT Program must have somatic sensation and the functional use of the senses of vision and hearing.  The student’s evaluative skills will also be lessened without the functional use of the senses of equilibrium, smell and taste.  Additionally, a student must have sufficient exteroceptive sense (touch, pain and temperature), sufficient proprioceptive sense (position, pressure, movement, stereognosis and vibratory) and sufficient motor function to permit them to carry out the activities described above.  The student must be able to consistently, quickly, and accurately integrate all information received by whatever senses are employed; and the student must have the intellectual ability to learn, integrate, analyze and synthesize data.

    Clinical training may require the ability to transport oneself to a variety of off-site settings in a timely manner.  Rounds and patient care may require prolonged and/or rapid ambulation or movement. Reasonable accommodations will be determined on an individual basis and at the discretion of the Admissions Committee and/or the faculty.
  4. Intellectual, Conceptual, Integrative and Quantitative Abilities:These abilities include measurement, calculation, reasoning, analysis, and synthesis.  Problem solving, a critical skill demanded of physical therapy, requires all of these intellectual abilities and often must be performed quickly, especially in emergency situations.  A student must be able to identify significant findings from history, physical examination, and laboratory data, provide a reasoned explanation for physical therapy intervention, and retain and recall information in an efficient and timely manner.  The ability to incorporate new information from peers, teachers, and the medical literature in formulating evaluations and intervention plans is essential. Good judgment in patient assessment and therapeutic planning is essential; a student must be able to identify and communicate their knowledge to others when appropriate.
  5. Behavioral and Social Attributes: The student must possess the emotional health required for full use of their intellectual abilities, the exercise of good judgment, the prompt completion of all responsibilities attendant to the care of patients, and the development of mature, sensitive and effective relationships with patients.  The student must be able to tolerate physically taxing workloads and to function effectively when stressed. The student must be able to adapt to changing environments, to display flexibility and to learn to function in the face of uncertainties inherent in the clinical problems of many patients.  A student is expected to accept appropriate suggestions and criticism and if necessary, respond by modification of behavior. Empathy, integrity, concern for others, interpersonal skills, interest and motivation are all personal qualities that should be assessed during the admission and educational processes.

    The University of Maryland Eastern Shore will consider for admission to the Physical Therapy Department any applicant who demonstrates the ability to perform, or to learn to perform within a reasonable time, the skills identified in this document. 

Applicants with Disabilities

State and federal law require the University of Maryland Eastern Shore to provide reasonable accommodations for applicants with disabilities.  The University will make necessary and reasonable accommodations as appropriate for qualified individuals but will not compromise academic and clinical  requirements and standards that are essential to instruction in the PT Program and the award of a degree from the Department of Physical Therapy.

An applicant is not disqualified from consideration due to a disability.  Applicants are not required to disclose the nature of disabilities to the Admissions Committee.  Applicants with questions about the Department’s Technical Standards for admission, academic advancement and graduation in relation to their disabilities are encouraged to discuss the issue of accommodation with the Admissions Committee prior to the interview process.  If appropriate, and upon the request of an applicant or student, academic adjustments and/or reasonable accommodations may be provided.  For applicants, the Admissions Committee will work with the appropriate faculty to determine whether requested accommodations are feasible and reasonable.

Some applicants with technological compensation or other reasonable accommodations can attain some of the aptitudes, abilities and skills described in the Technical Standards.  However, applicants using technology supports or other accommodations must be able to perform in a reasonably independent manner.  The use of trained intermediaries to carry out functions described in the Technical Standards will not generally be permitted by the Department of Physical Therapy.  Intermediaries, no matter how well trained, are applying their own powers of selection and observation, which could affect the student’s judgment and performance.  Therefore, the Physical Therapy Department will not generally permit third parties to be used to assist a student in the clinical training or in accomplishing curriculum requirements in the five skill areas identified in the Technical Standards.  Other requested accommodations will be given due consideration, and reasonable accommodations will be made where consistent with curriculum objectives and legal requirements applicable to the Department and University.

Requests for Accommodations

An applicant who has not been offered admission to the Department of Physical Therapy may disclose a disability and request accommodation during the admission process.  DISCLOSURE BEFORE BEING OFFERED ADMISSION IS NOT REQUIRED.   However, an applicant may want to determine the Department’s response to a specific accommodation request early in the admissions process.  An applicant who chooses voluntarily to disclose a disability should write the Admissions Committee and the Office of Admissions to disclose the disability and discuss accommodation requests.  Disclosure of the disability and request for accommodation will be kept confidential and shared with those persons responsible for evaluating the disability and whether a reasonable accommodation may be made for the disability.

After admission, students (including admittees who have not yet accepted a place in a class of the Department of Physical Therapy, admittees who have accepted a place, and matriculating students) should disclose disabilities and request accommodation by writing, calling or visiting the Office of Services for Students with Disabilities (OSSD) or the Chair of the Department of Physical Therapy.   The University will follow policy and procedures for accommodation.

The following deadlines and goals must be observed:

Any student who is not yet a matriculant must make requests for accommodation of disabilities within one week after accepting admission to the program. Any matriculating student who becomes aware of a disability requiring accommodation or a need for accommodation of a previously known disability, must request the accommodation as soon as the need for accommodation has been identified.  Information about a student’s disability and request for accommodation will be held in confidence and disclosed to those persons responsible for evaluating the disability and determining whether requested accommodations can be made.  A student can expect a response from the Vice President of Academic Affairs within 21 days of submitting all required documentation as required. The time may be extended if the School requests additional information, which cannot reasonably be gathered within the period.

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