Essential Functions for Participation

Essential functions are the cognitive, psychomotor, and affective skills necessary for a student to participate in the physical therapy program and become a physical therapist. Below are the “Clinical Performance Criteria for the Physical Therapist Student” as outlined in the “Physical Therapist Clinical Performance Instrument for Students” developed by the American Physical Therapy Association.1 Students must have the physical and mental capacity, with or without reasonable accommodations, to meet all of the below criteria. These essential functions apply in the classroom, lab, community, and clinical settings as part of the physical therapy program. Independent facilities used for clinical education may or may not be willing or able to provide the same reasonable accommodations provided by the university.

1. Practices in a safe manner that minimizes the risk to patient, self, and others.

2. Demonstrates professional behavior in all situations.

3. Practices in a manner consistent with established legal and professional standards and ethical guidelines.

4. Communicates in ways that are congruent with situational needs.

5. Adapts delivery of physical therapy services with consideration for patients’ differences, values, preferences, and needs.

6. Participates in self-assessment to improve clinical and professional performance.

7. Applies current knowledge, theory, clinical judgment, and the patient’s values and perspective in patient management.

8. Determines with each patient encounter the patient’s need for further examination or consultation by a physical therapist or referral to another health care professional.

9. Performs a physical therapy patient examination using evidenced-based tests and measures.

10. Evaluates data from the patient examination (history, systems review, and tests and measures) to make clinical judgments.

11. Determines a diagnosis and prognosis that guides future patient management.

12. Establishes a physical therapy plan of care that is safe, effective, patient-centered, and evidence-based.

13. Performs physical therapy interventions in a competent manner.

14. Educates others (patients, caregivers, staff, students, other health care providers, business and industry representatives, school systems) using relevant and effective teaching methods.

15. Produces quality documentation in a timely manner to support the delivery of physical therapy services.

16. Collects and analyzes data from selected outcome measures in a manner that supports accurate analysis of individual patient and group outcomes.

17. Participates in the financial management (budgeting, billing and reimbursement, time, space, equipment, marketing, public relations) of the physical therapy service consistent with regulatory, legal, and facility guidelines.

18. Directs and supervises personnel to meet patient’s goals and expected outcomes according to legal standards and ethical guidelines.

Sample behaviors for each of the above performance criteria are available upon request.

1 Physical Therapist Clinical Performance Instrument: Version 2006. American Physical Therapy Association: Alexandria, VA; 2008.
Adopted 5/7/12

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