Physical Therapy School Category: Physical Therapy Programs
General Program Description
At Northwestern University, Feinberg School of Medicine, the entry-level physical therapy curriculum is designed as a 3-year program that culminates in the Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree and eligibility to take examinations for state licensure. Beginning in late August or early September of each year, the program requires eight trimesters of full-time study. The curriculum includes academic preparation and clinical experiences in selected health care facilities nationwide. Classes are held on Northwestern’s Chicago campus, which provides ample physical therapy lecture and laboratory space, a health sciences library, a learning resources center, medical simulation facilities, access to fitness facilities, and a personal computer center. Laboratories for gross anatomy are shared with the medical students and physician assistant students. The objective of the educational program is to produce physical therapists who can respond to complex patient/client needs quickly, scientifically, and independently following graduation and licensure. The keystones of the curriculum are the analysis of movement function and dysfunction using movement science as a basis and the use of scientific principles and clinical evidence in making clinical decisions. Physical therapists must be able to understand the interaction of the physiologic, biomedical, and behavioral factors that contribute to normal and abnormal movement and articulate the evidence for their evaluation and intervention decisions. To that end, both basic science and clinical courses are offered within a movement science framework. Graduates will be able to meet the needs of clients in all areas of physical therapy service and be capable of functioning competently in the health-care environment. Graduates are prepared to be capable of serving as primary contact providers; functioning in the areas of health promotion, disease and injury prevention, acute care and rehabilitation; supervising support personnel; and collaborating and consulting with colleagues and other health professionals. We strive to prepare a diverse group of graduates who contribute to the growth of a dynamic profession and who serve society by providing effective physical therapy services to a diverse group of patients/clients. The Department prepares graduates for physical therapy practice, research, education, consultation and administration. This preparation involves the development of critical thinking, integration of new information with existing knowledge and development of the ability to investigate and communicate about professional matters. To meet these objectives, students have opportunities to interact with faculty and patients in a variety of patient care environments during course work. They also have the opportunity to collaborate with faculty and other students in the conduct of scientific inquiry through a Synthesis Project that is required of all students for graduation. The purpose of the Synthesis Project is for the student to learn how to develop and implement inquiry into a narrowly defined topic of relevance to the physical therapy profession. Projects may be laboratory-based or clinic-based research or educational or advocacy interventions. The projects are intended to serve as vehicles to integrate new information with information that exists in the narrow field and also with information acquired over the course of the program at Northwestern. Graduates from the DPT-PhD(Eng) program will have a combined degree in the engineering and life sciences that prepares them for dual careers as physical therapist /scientists in rehabilitation science and engineering research, with strong relevance to physical therapist patient care. Rehabilitation and engineering, as it relates to movement and rehabilitation sciences, is a distinct and novel research field that requires an interdisciplinary graduate education and training program. Although this discipline has its roots in the fields of medicine, engineering and neuroscience, work at the interface of these fields requires training that is not available in the traditional curriculum. Graduate students who receive this interdisciplinary training are expected to become new leaders in engineering, rehabilitation sciences, physical therapy and in device development for the study and restoration of human function both in the academic, governmental, healthcare and industry environments. Their scientific and engineering contributions will have a significant impact on rehabilitation related healthcare costs in the US.
Clinical Education experiences are an extremely important and substantial part of the program. Students interact with patients in a variety of integrated clinical education experiences. Clinical education experiences are incorporated throughout the curriculum and include half-day field trips, faculty/student patient management opportunities and pro bono clinics. The program includes 38 weeks of full-time clinical education divided into 4 separate clinical education opportunities; two 6-week experiences integrated within the curriculum and two 13-week experiences at the end of the program. We have clinical education agreements with over 400 facilities in 43 states. In addition to the full-time clinical experiences, students have multiple opportunities to interact with patients, families, and health professionals throughout the curriculum, both in clinical facilities and in the classroom.
There are 30 full-time and 2 part-time faculty members. Most of the faculty hold post-professional doctoral degrees, and several of the faculty are engaged in clinical practice. Faculty members hold clinical specialization in pediatrics, neurology, orthopedics, geriatrics, and cardio-pulmonary physical therapy. Faculty average 45 publications in peer-reviewed journals annually. The faculty to student ratio differs depending on the nature of the class activity. For lecture-based activities, there is generally 1-2 faculty member teaching the entire class. Lab ratios are 1:15 or less.
Northwestern is a private research university and an internationally recognized institute of higher education. Approximately 18,000 full-time and part-time students annually enroll on the University’s two lakefront campuses in Evanston and Chicago. The Chicago campus includes 2,200 medical, physical therapy, and law students, plus those registered in the School of Continuing Studies. The target enrollment for each class is 85 students.
Admission requirements include: a baccalaureate degree; minimum cumulative and prerequisite course grade point average of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale; the Graduate Record Examination (GRE); 12 semester hours (sh) of behavioral sciences to include psychology and human or child development; 12 sh of biological sciences to include an introductory course in human, mammalian, or vertebrate anatomy and physiology; 8 sh each of chemistry and physics; and 3 sh each of calculus, statistics, and composition/writing. Applications are handled by the PTCAS system, available in July each year, with a deadline of October 1. Applicants will be notified of their status by mid-December. Applicants who have been either accepted for admission or selected as alternates are invited to attend an open house in mid-January. Accepted applicants who intend to enroll must sign a letter of intent and submit a tuition deposit by February 1. The open house provides an opportunity to visit the school and meet with students and faculty. Applicants wishing to visit the school at other times during the year are encouraged to schedule appointments by going to the the URL http://www.feinberg.northwestern.edu/sites/pthms/about-us/request-visit.html or calling the Office of Admissions at 312/908-6786.
98% of admitted students graduate from the program (3-year average). 98-99% pass the licensure exam on the first try. Over the last 3 years, all graduates who sought employment in physical therapy were employed within 6 months of graduation.
Tuition, fees and financial aid
The 2013-2014 tuition is $38,073 annually ($12,691 + $200 per trimester), Annual tuition increases of 3-4% are typical. The program is eight trimesters long. The primary objective of Northwestern University in providing financial assistance to students is to assure those with financial need that they will not be denied enrollment due to a lack of adequate financial resources. Approximately 80% of physical therapy students receive financial aid from a variety of resources. Several merit scholarships are available. In addition, a few endowed scholarships are available to enrolled students with special qualifications.
The Department of Physical Therapy and Human Movement Sciences is located on the scenic Chicago campus between Lake Michigan and North Michigan Avenue. The Chicago campus includes the School of Law, the Medical School, and several hospitals of the McGaw Medical Center of Northwestern University. The Department’s teaching, research and administrative facilities are spacious and state-of-the art. Physical therapy students can share the rich musical, dramatic, and library resources offered on the Evanston campus located 12 miles north. Students have the opportunity to participate in a variety of athletic, cultural, and recreational activities on both campuses of the university. Our location in a major city provides students with access to multiple cultural, entertainment and sporting events. Off-campus housing is readily available in a wide price range. Public transportation throughout the city and suburbs is excellent. Physical therapy students represent a diverse group of individuals with a variety of experiences contributing to the learning environment of the class. Students come from throughout the United States.
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