The mission of the Physical Therapy program at the University of Puget Sound is to prepare students at the clinical doctoral level for entry into the physical therapy profession. Our presence on a liberal arts campus underscores our belief that the development of clinician scholars is a natural extension of the values of critical analysis, sound judgment, active inquiry, community participation and apt expression. The curriculum is designed to teach the evaluation and intervention skills that are unique to the practice of physical therapy. Students also learn to identify professional boundaries, gain an appreciation of coalition-building with other health care providers in order to optimize patient care, and become discerning consumers of the professional literature. Similarly, students develop the capacity for autonomous decision-making in preparation for a professional environment in which information is continually evolving. All courses provide opportunities to develop articulate written and oral communication skills. Through a careful blending of rigorous academic work and mentored clinical practice, our program seeks to prepare clinician scholars for informed, ethical, and efficacious practice.
Students concentrate on foundational courses, begin to plan research projects, and begin to study elements of clinical management.
Students' main focus is to learn all aspects of patient examination, assessment, and treatment design, progressively dealing with more complex situations through integrated experiences under close supervision in the on-site clinic. In the summer following the second year, students have their first full-time, off-campus internship experience.
Students apply what they have learned in the program in capstone experiences, take on greater responsibility in the on-site clinic, and study areas of special interest in advanced elective courses. The program completes with two additional off-campus internships. In total students have 36 weeks of off-campus internship practice and the equivalent of six weeks of on-site clinic practice.
Strengths of the Program
Hit the Ground Running
In structured interviews, clinical instructors throughout the western U.S. consistently state that Puget Sound students adapt to the clinic more quickly than other students. The clinical instructors use phrases such as "able to hit the ground running," and describe Puget Sound students as extremely comfortable with patients and clinical skills. At Puget Sound, your experience in the on-site clinic gives you an invaluable transitional experience that helps you make the most of your off-site internship experiences.
Valuable Writing Skills
In the same structured interviews, clinical instructors praise Puget Sound physical therapy students for their extraordinary writing ability. At Puget Sound, you will have ample opportunity to hone your writing skills, since you will take part in a writing program that is coordinated across the curriculum to give you experience in every form of writing that is relevant to physical therapy.
Readiness for Licensing Exam
Over the 30-year history of the program, Puget Sound physical therapy graduates have had an exceptionally high first-time passing rate when taking the professional licensing exam. In the past three years, Puget Sound graduates have averaged a 95 percent passing rate on their first attempt at the licensing exam, with an ultimate pass rate of 100 percent each year. You will have opportunities in the program to practice skills that will enhance your ability to be successful on this exam.
Graduates of the Physical Therapy program at Puget Sound are eligible to sit for the National Physical Therapy Licensing Exam which is required to practice physical therapy in all 50 states. Candidates seeking licensure in the state of Washington must be of good moral character and have completed a degree program in physical therapy from an accredited institution. Specific physical therapy licensing requirements for the state of Washington can be found online at www.doh.wa.gov/hsqa/professions/Physical_Therapy/default.htm.
High Employment Rate
When you graduate from Puget Sound, you are very likely to find work as a physical therapist. According to annual surveys of our graduates, Puget Sound graduates have an employment rate of 99.9 percent within six months of graduation. Results of the portions of the surveys related to employment are available upon request to the program director.
At Puget Sound, you will have the opportunity to participate in innovative and special programs, such as our enhanced curriculum and specialty clinical experience in oncology physical therapy, health promotion programs within the campus such as the musician injury prevention program, and community outreach education programs. In the final semester of the program, you will be able to pursue an area of special clinical interest in our advanced clinical elective courses.
Your Education is First Priority
At Puget Sound, you will work with professors who are hired, retained and promoted based on teaching excellence rather than on their ability to generate outside funding for the program or on the number of publications they can generate over a given period of time. Your professors will hold you and your education as their first priority.
Your professors will also be actively involved in research and scholarship, and they will be generous in giving you opportunities to collaborate with them in that research. Over the past three years, the majority of Puget Sound physical therapy students have had the opportunity to present their research at national conferences. Recent research projects presented nationally have dealt with physical therapy intervention for end-stage renal disease, complex regional pain syndrome, women's health, cancer, musician performance-related injuries, general orthopedics, veterinary medicine, and other areas.