DPT Global Expectations of Students

We expect students in this program to own and to live the professional values and goals professed in the program and its curriculum. However, because written or spoken values and goals remain simply words until transformed into action, new students will be introduced to a method of self-assessment to develop individual academic and professional goals in terms of behavioral abilities. These behavioral abilities are organized into ten ability domains collectively known as Generic Abilities. Developing self-assessment skills, using the Generic Abilities, will provide a powerful resource that will allow the student to recognize fundamental elements of professional behavior. In addition, the student will learn to track and assess growth in and use of professional behaviors deemed essential by our profession and by this curriculum, and allow the student to convert knowledge and psychomotor skills into consequential patient care based upon the Core Values of our profession.

Generic Abilities Policy

This program of professional behaviors development (Generic Abilities) is a requirement of all courses and an emphasis throughout the curriculum. The program is also a tool to help the student develop good skills in accurate self-assessment, an essential skill for continuing professional development and growth.

"Generic Abilities are behaviors, attributes, or characteristics that are not explicitly part of a profession's core of knowledge and technical skills, but are required for success in that profession."

Program Description: Minimum Degree Requirements

In addition to the programmatic academic requirements, demonstrating the professional behavior required to be an effective physical therapist is equal in importance to acquiring the knowledge base and psychomotor skills peculiar to physical therapy. Each student's progress toward attaining entry-level competence (knowledge base, psychomotor skills, and professional behavior) is reviewed by the faculty at the end of each semester. To facilitate development of competency in the ten generic abilities, a faculty advisor will provide formal and informal feedback to the student on a regular basis. The student will be responsible for ongoing self-assessment and for seeking feedback from faculty and fellow students. Satisfactory progress in all three areas of entry-level competence (knowledge, skills, and behavior) is required for students to continue in the program.

Generic Abilities and behavioral criteria specific to the practice of Physical Therapy were identified by the faculty of the UW-Madison Physical Therapy Program, and have been validated and accepted as defining physical therapy professional behavior. Generic abilities are attributes, characteristics or behaviors that are not explicitly part of the profession's core of knowledge and technical skills but are nevertheless required for success in the profession. The quality of professional behavior expected of program graduates is exemplified by ten Physical Therapy specific generic abilities and the three levels of associated behavioral criteria. Satisfactory progress is demonstrated by exhibiting Beginning Level Criteria by the end of the first year, Developing Level Criteria by the end of the second year and Entry Level criteria by the end of the final 16 week clinical internship. Additionally, the Generic Abilities will be used as an effective tool by each student to learn accurate self assessment and appropriate behavioral modification in the process of developing the expected professional behaviors associated with the Generic Abilities.

Every accepted applicant must read these policies, sign the accompanying affidavit, and return it to the North Georgia Physical Therapy Department Office before proceeding further in the program.

Generic Abilities

Generic Ability


1. Commitment to Learning

The ability to self-assess, self-correct, and self-direct; to identify needs and sources of learning; and to continually seek new knowledge and understanding.

2. Interpersonal Skills

The ability to interact effectively with patients, families, colleagues, other health care professionals, and the community and to deal effectively with cultural and ethnic diversity issues.

3. Communications Skills

The ability to communicate effectively (i.e., speaking, body language, reading, writing, listening) for varied audiences and purposes.

4. Effective Use of Time and resources

The ability to obtain the maximum benefit from a minimum investment of time and resources.

5. Use of Constructive Feedback

The ability to identify sources of and seek out feedback and to effectively use and provide feedback for improving personal interaction.

6. Problem Solving Skills

The ability to recognize and define problems, analyze data, develop and implement solutions, and evaluate outcomes.

7. Professionalism

The ability to exhibit appropriate professional conduct and to represent the profession effectively.

8. Responsibility

The ability to fulfill commitments and to be accountable for actions and outcomes.

9. Critical Thinking

The ability to question logically; to identify, generate, and evaluate elements of logical argument; to recognize and differentiate facts, illusions, assumptions, and hidden assumptions; and to distinguish the relevant from the irrelevant.

10. Stress Management

The ability to identify sources of stress and to develop effective coping behaviors.

North Georgia's Physical Therapy Essential Functions Policy

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) ensures the opportunity to pursue programmatic admission at public institutions for qualified applicants with a disability. To determine whether an individual is a qualified applicant for programs or services, the ADA states that applicants must meet essential eligibility requirements.

The following performance standards are set forth so that students will understand the essential eligibility requirements for participation and progression in the physical therapy curriculum at North Georgia College & State University (North Georgia). These performance standards cover interpersonal skills, communication, psychomotor skills, and cognitive skills. The ability to observe, evaluate, and treat a patient independently, while ensuring patient safety at all times, is an expectation and a requirement of the Department of Physical Therapy.

The purpose of this policy is to ensure that all physical therapy students are able to provide swift, safe and competent evaluation and treatment to patients. All students will be held to the same standards and must be able to perform the essential functions of their positions with or without reasonable accommodation.

These essential functions for physical therapy education identify the requirements for admission, retention and graduation of applicants and students respectively from the Graduate Program in Physical Therapy. Graduates are expected to be qualified to enter the profession of physical therapy. It is the responsibility of each student with a disability to disclose his/her disability and to request those accommodations he/she feels are reasonable and are needed to execute the essential requirements described. The procedure for disclosure and for requesting accommodation is located immediately after the Essential Functions chart that follows.

Upon the request of persons with disabilities, North Georgia will provide reasonable accommodations. However, the Department of Physical Therapy at North Georgia is unable to make accommodations that impose an undue burden, present a threat to the health or safety of the individual or others, or fundamentally alter the nature of the curriculum including didactic component, laboratory sessions, and clinical experiences.

Every interviewed/accepted applicant must complete the affidavit attesting to his/her ability to fulfill the Physical Therapy Department Essential Functions. A copy of the affidavit is printed on the last page of this policy description.

Questions about the accommodation process may be directed to North Georgia's Coordinator of Student Disability Resources, 706-867-2782.

Every accepted applicant must read these policies, sign the accompanying affidavit, and return it to the North Georgia's Physical Therapy Department Office before proceeding further in the program.

Essential Functions

This list provides examples - it is not exhaustive.


Independently, the student must be able to observe a patient accurately.

Assess gait deviation of patient 10 feet away.

Observe client response; diagnosis, pallor, grimacing

Determine pressure ulcer stage and depth.

Read degrees of motion on a goniometer.


Utilize verbal, non-verbal and written communication with client and caregivers.

Elicit information from client and caregivers for history.

Explain treatment procedures.

Demonstrate exercise programs.

Establish rapport with client, care givers and colleagues.

Apply teaching, learning theories and methods in health care and community environments.


Safely, reliably and efficiently perform physical therapy assessment and treatment.

Practice in an ethical and legal manner.

Move from place to place and position to position.

Perform physical therapy procedures with speed, strength, coordination and endurance for handling self, classmates, clients.

Simultaneously physically support and observe a patient with a disability.

Respond to a timer, emergency alarms.

Discern breath sounds with a stethoscope.

Perform tests of vital signs, pain, strength, coordination, cranial and peripheral nerves, balance, movement patterns, posture, sensation, endurance, skin integrity, joint motion, wound status, cognitive/mental status, soft tissue, assistive devices fit/use, reflexes, developmental stages.

Assist with bed mobility and transfers from supine to sit to stand.

Administer balance training, cardiopulmonary resuscitation and rehabilitation, exercise techniques, activities of daily living, coordination training, prosthetic and orthotic training, joint mobilization, wound debridement and dressing, electrotherapy, soft tissue mobilization, thermal agents, neurosensory techniques, developmental activities, hydrotherapy, tilt table, massage, relaxation techniques, traction, taping, and draping techniques.


A student must be able to problem solve rapidly, learn and reason, and to integrate, analyze and synthesize data concurrently in a multitask setting.

Student must be able to comprehend three dimensional relationships and understand the spatial relationship of structure.

Participate in scientific inquiry process.

Determine the physical therapy needs of any patient with a dysfunction.

Demonstrate ability to apply universal precautions.

Identify cause and effect relationships.

Perform physical therapy differential diagnosis.

Interpret client responses.

Make appropriate modifications to evaluations/treatment.

Recognize psychological impact of dysfunction and disability.

Integrate needs of the client/care giver into a plan of care.

Develop hypothesis; Perform literature searches, clinical research and statistical analysis.

Develop discussion and conclusion.


The student must be able to practice in a safe, ethical and legal manner.

The student must be able to respond to emergencies.

The student must demonstrate management skills including planning, organizing, supervising and delegating.

Practices, maintains and values personal honesty in all interactions.

Complies with the American Physical Therapy Association Code of Ethics.

Abides by the North Georgia College & State University Policy on Academic Integrity.

Complies with the State Board of Physical Therapy's rules and regulations.

Modifies procedures in a manner that is appropriate to the patient's status and desired goals.


Students must possess the emotional health required for full use of their intellectual abilities, exercise good judgment and the prompt and safe completion of all responsibilities.

They must be able to adapt to change, to display flexibility, and to learn to function in the face of uncertainty and stress.

The student must possess empathy, compassion and respect for all individuals.

Assess learner's ability to perform tasks.

Identify cognitive and emotional needs of self and others.

Establish rapport with faculty, classmates, colleagues, clients/patients.

Exhibit appropriate tolerance for ambiguity in professional life, especially in pursuing the well-being of clients.

Interact with individuals, families, groups from a variety of social, emotional, cultural and intellectual backgrounds.

Demonstrate responsibility for lifelong professional growth and development.

Comply with policies of generic abilities.

Process for Filing Disclosure of Disability and Obtaining Program Modifications

Prospective physical therapy students with a disability who have not previously disclosed that disability and requested accommodation but now wish to do so may begin the process submitting a signed and checked affidavit the Department of Physical Therapy. A copy will be made and provided for the student to take/send to the Coordinator of Student Disability Resources, North Georgia College & State University, Dahlonega, GA 30597-1001.

Clinical Education

In addition to the clinical education that occurs in the classroom and clinical arts laboratory on campus, remote clinical experiences are interspersed through the curriculum and capped by a continuous sixteen-week clinical experience during the final semester. The student should be aware of the policies and plans for this integral and important part of the student's professional education.

Students on Academic or Conduct Suspension are not eligible for a clinical education placement and must satisfy any existing conditions of their sanction before being permitted to proceed to clinic. Those on Academic or Conduct Probation may not be eligible depending on their infraction and stipulations of the sanction.

The Academic Coordinator of Clinical Education (ACCE) makes clinical assignments after receiving input from the students. Students will not be assigned to a facility in which they have any kind of contractual agreement. While some of the facilities have lodging suitable for students, this cannot be counted on for all facilities, and should not be a limiting factor in requesting a clinical education site assignment. The student is responsible for transportation, room and board expenses during clinical education courses.

Health information must be updated on an annual basis. This requires at the minimum a physical examination, laboratory work and a tuberculin test or chest x-ray. Immunization may need updating also. The cost for any health care (emergency or otherwise) required by a student while at a clinical facility is the responsibility of the student. Therefore, health insurance is mandatory as required by the Board of Regents.

During clinical education experiences, students are expected to adhere to the administrative and personnel policies of the clinical facility to which they are assigned. Contacting the Center Coordinator for Clinical Education (CCCE) prior to any unscheduled absence or tardiness is expected. If a planned absence is requested, the student must make arrangements with the CCCE and notify the Faculty (see Policy for Class Attendance) to make up the missed time in an acceptable and appropriate manner. Students may be withdrawn from the clinical experience for failure to comply with the rules of the facility and the Academic Department.

Successful completion of each clinical education course is required for progression to the next clinical experience. The CCCE of the facility recommends to the North Georgia faculty a grade of satisfactory or unsatisfactory based upon the student's performance in the clinical experience. The determination of the final grade for each clinical education course is the responsibility of the ACCE and the physical therapy faculty.

If at any time during a clinical education experience a student's performance is judged to be unsatisfactory, a decision must be made whether to dismiss or begin remediation efforts. Most such events are simple enough that remediation is easily accomplished between the student and the Clinical Instructor /CCCE without incident. Others may require participation of the ACCE to assist in the development of a formal plan for remediation to be accomplished within the remaining time window of the course. Others may be severe enough that the student is forced to withdraw from the clinical education experience. A final grade of "U" in a Clinical Education Course results in immediate suspension from the program. Decisions about readmission and repeat of the course are the purview of the Promotion and Retention Committee who will consider all the circumstances surrounding the original attempt and the likelihood of success through a subsequent attempt.

The capstone clinical education experience of the curriculum is the 16-week Clinical Education III. This experience has been designed to provide each student with the opportunity to progress from the typical student clinician roles to those roles and activities expected of entry-level practitioners. The student is expected to identify appropriate learning issues necessary to complete the stated curricular objective at the performance level of an entry-level clinician. The behaviors described in the definition of a novice clinical scholar should become evident during the 16 weeks, and entry-level performance in all Generic Abilities must be attained.