Our program in physical therapy has been preparing students to be highly competent and compassionate professionals for 50 years. We take pride in bringing together the most advanced educational philosophies and the most current research together with the finest faculty to create an effective and supportive learning environment. Proof of our success is the fact that we have a 99% first-time pass rate on the national licensure examination.
Program Chair and Director: Dr. Scott Ward, PT, PhD
The University of Utah is the state’s oldest and largest institution of higher education and is a major research university. The U offers over 100 undergraduate and more than 90 graduate degree programs to over 31,000 students. The University of Utah is one of the state’s largest employers and is ranked as one of the top public research universities in the nation. The University of Utah is accredited by the Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges and was last accredited in 2006.
The Physical Therapy Program
The physical therapy program at the University of Utah has a long-standing tradition of excellence dating back to the admission of its first class in 1969. This makes the University of Utah program in physical therapy one of the oldest in the region. The Department of Physical Therapy is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE).
The current DPT program at the University of Utah reflects the breadth, depth, and necessary rigor of the professional physical therapist education curriculum in response to the current and expected future health care environment. This health care environment includes an enhanced role and higher expectations of the physical therapist, including a commitment to evidence-based physical therapy services and patient care. These skills must be achieved by the completion of an entry-level professional program, which is the outcome expected of our students upon completion of the DPT.
The faculty of the Department of Physical Therapy at the University of Utah considers their fundamental mission to be consistent with that of the University.
- Address the health care needs for physical therapy of the community, state, and region by educating physical therapy practitioners;
- Investigate, discover and transmit knowledge related to physical therapy;
- Provide services to the academic, professional, and general communities in which the Department is involved.
We regard physical therapy as a health care profession that has as its primary purpose the promotion of human health and function through the application of scientific principles to identify, assess, correct, prevent, or alleviate acute or prolonged human impairment, functional limitation, and disability.
The faculty believes that physical therapy education represents the initial commitment to professional service and life-long learning. Professional preparation should be based upon a liberal education in sciences and humanities which serves to develop the values necessary to function effectively and humanely in an ever-changing society.
The professional component of the curriculum must address both current trends and future needs of society. Students must be prepared not only for a current level of practice but also be prepared to adapt to future changes throughout their career. The professional curriculum should prepare students to be confident in the multifaceted roles of clinical practitioner, teacher, researcher, consultant, administrator, and life-long learner.
The fundamental beliefs of the faculty are reflected in the curricular content of the proposed program. They align with the University of Utah's primary mission, which includes creating an environment where the highest standards of scholarship and professional practice are observed, and where the responsibilities to students are conscientiously met.
Physical therapy is “the science of healing and the art of caring”. It combines a solid knowledge of human anatomy with compassionate, individualized care. Physical therapists work with individuals of all ages to improve their health and functional performance: infants with birth defects; youth athletes who want to maximize their performance; seniors with arthritis, people with MS, etc. PTs examine each individual and diagnose the movement dysfunction. Then, PTs develop a treatment plan using techniques to promote the ability to move, to reduce pain, and to restore function.
A physical therapist needs to be patient, motivating and compassionate. PTs work with a variety of individuals—many of whom are in pain or who want to see immediate results. PTs are teachers—they need to clearly explain different techniques and exercises to patients so the patient can continue to perform at home. PTs make a positive difference in people’s lives.
Career Earnings & Future
Current salary information can be obtained from the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics - Occupational Outlook Handbook. Physical Therapy has been named as one of the nation's 150 best recession-proof jobs. Physical Therapist ranks in CNN Money's 2013 Top 100 Jobs in America, and PT is included in their 10 Booming Jobs, with the growth over the next 10 years at 30%. The Department of Workforce Services of Utah gives Physical Therapy a 5 Star Rating.
Professional Associations for Physical Therapists
The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) is the professional organization for physical therapists. You can access career information, education options, current professional issues, employment opportunities and much more by visiting their website. You can also access information about physical therapy from the patient’s perspective by visiting the APTA consumer site, Move Forward.
The Utah Physical Therapy Association is the state physical therapy organization. Click here to learn more about physical therapy in the state of Utah.