DPT students at the PLEX.

The DPT Program at Alvernia University, in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), does not discriminate against qualified individuals with disabilities.  A person qualified for the DPT program is one who has met academic standards and is able, with or without reasonable accommodations, to meet the essential functions of a physical therapist, in alignment with current practice as determined by several sources as referenced.

These essential functions are the activities that a student physical therapist must be able to perform, with or without accommodations, in partial fulfillment of the requirements for successful completion of the professional curriculum. They are applicable in the classroom, laboratories, simulated clinical settings, and on clinical education assignments.  Alvernia University uses independent clinical education sites that may or may not be able to offer the same reasonable accommodations made available by the university.

The list of essential functions is designed to assist students interested in the DPT program to make informed decisions about career options.  Additional requirements and competencies are outlined in course syllabi and on the clinical performance instrument.  The Essential Functions must be completed in all settings, which include highly complex environments, and within a time frame that is consistent with actual clinical practice.  If it becomes apparent that a student is unable to fulfill each essential function with reasonable accommodation or if the needed accommodations are beyond what would be considered reasonable thus causing undue hardship to the university or harm to others. 

The Alvernia University DPT Program Essential Functions document has been developed to achieve compliance with the following statutes:  the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, the ADA Amendment Act of 2008, and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. 

ADA records are maintained by the Accessibility Services Coordinator.  Information related to ADA, Discrimination, and Title IX can be found on the University website. Questions should be directed to the Disability Services Coordinator located in Bernardine Hall, Room 1121, and by phone at 610-796-8423. 

For questions, concerns, or to request review of a request for accommodations, students should contact: Andrea Swift, 400 St. Bernardine Street, Reading, PA 19607, 610.568.1499, Andrea.Swift@alvernia.edu

Essential Functions in the Affective Domain

  • Interact effectively and sensitively using appropriate verbal, nonverbal, and written communication skills with faculty, peers, other members of the health care team, and patients/clients, and caregivers.
  • Read, write and interpret written and nonverbal communication at a competency level that allows one to safely function in classroom, laboratory, and clinical settings.
  • Recognize the impact and influence of age, lifestyle, family or peer support, socioeconomic class, culture, beliefs, race, and abilities on faculty, peers, other members of the health care team, and patients/clients, and caregivers.
  • Recognize the psychosocial impact of movement dysfunction and disability on the client and caregivers and integrate these needs into patient examinations, evaluations, assessments, interventions, discharges, and or referrals.
  • Efficiently organize and prioritize multiple tasks, integrate and critically analyze information, and formulate applicable decisions.
  • Practice in a safe, ethical, and legal manner, following guidelines for standard practice as established by federal, state, and local law, the College, clinical facilities, the APTA, and related professional organizations.
  • Accept personal responsibility for all actions, reactions, and inactions.
  • Demonstrate responsibility for self-assessment, professional growth and development.
  • Effectively and consistently manage personal stress and appropriately respond to the stress of others.
  • Speak and write effectively in English to convey information to other individuals and groups.

Essential Functions in the Cognitive Domain

  • Comprehend, retain, recall, and apply complex information learned in required prerequisite courses to the program's professional course work.
  • Read, comprehend, integrate, critically analyze, interpret, and apply information from written materials, demonstrations, lectures, laboratory sessions, and research literature, and other pertinent sources to develop and support the rationale for appropriate patient examinations, evaluations, assessments, interventions, discharges, and or referrals.
  • Collect, organize, prioritize and document information to make safe, appropriate and timely decisions regarding patient care for the purposes of examination, evaluation, assessment, intervention, discharge, and or referral for any patient.
  • Demonstrate management skills including planning, organizing, supervising, and delegating.

Essential Functions in the Psychomotor Domain

Possess sufficient mental and physical stamina, postural and neuromuscular control, and eye-hand coordination for extended periods of time in order to perform patient care tasks in a manner that does not compromise patient or therapist safety.

Safely, reliably, and efficiently perform required physical therapy examination and intervention procedures to evaluate and treat the functional skills & limitations and gross motor system of patients across the lifespan. These include but are not limited to:

  • Cognitive, mental, emotional status
  • Cardiopulmonary status
  • Segmental length, girth, volume
  • Skin integrity & wound care
  • Sensation
  • Strength
  • Joint mobility, motion and play
  • Muscle tone and reflexes
  • Coordination & balance
  • Development skills & movement patterns
  • Functional abilities
  • Posture & gait
  • Endurance
  • Pain
  • Therapeutic exercises
  • Prosthetics & orthotics
  • Adaptive devices & assistive technology
  • Demonstrate the ability to perform CPR and emergency first aid.
  • Safely and reliably read meters, dials, printouts, and goniometers.
  • Demonstrate the ability to manipulate and operate physical therapy equipment and monitoring devices.
  • React safely and appropriately in a timely manner to sudden or unexpected situations involving persons and or equipment.


  • American Physical Therapy Association. Minimum Required Skills of Physical Therapist Graduates at Entry Level. BOD G11-05-20-449.
  • American Physical Therapy Association. Guide to Physical Therapist Practice. Alexandria, Virginia, 2008.
  • AASIG Technical Standards, Essential Functions Document. Section on Education, September 1998.
  • Ingram, D. (1997). Opinions of Physical Therapy Program Directors on Essential Functions, Physical Therapy, 77(1).nd or equipment.




Doctor of Physical Therapy Program at Alvernia University is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy (CAPTE), 3030 Potomac Avenue, Suite 100, Alexandria, Virginia 22305-3085; telephone: 703-706-3245; email: accreditation@apta.org; website: http://www.capteonline.org. If needing to contact the program/institution directly, please call 610-568-1546 or email christopher.wise@alvernia.edu

For more information regarding the process of accreditation, please contact the:

Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education
3030 Potomac Avenue, Suite 100
Alexandria, VA 22305-3085
Phone: 703-706-3245
Email: accreditation@apta.org

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Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT)