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Technical Standards

The goal of the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, College of Health Professions (COHP) is to prepare students for the practice of the professions of cytotechnology, dental hygiene, health information management, medical technology, occupational therapy, and physical therapy. This includes undergraduate education and graduate education, where applicable. Modern health professions education requires that the accumulation of scientific knowledge be accompanied by the simultaneous acquisition of essential skills, functions and professional attitudes and behavior. The faculty of the College of Health Professions have a responsibility to graduate the best possible practitioners and graduate students; therefore, admission to educational programs in the College is offered only to those who present the highest qualifications for education and training in the art and science of the respective health professions.

Applicants to programs of the College must possess the following general qualities: critical thinking, sound judgment, emotional stability and maturity, empathy, physical and mental stamina, and the ability to learn and function in a wide variety of didactic and clinical settings. Graduates of the College must have the minimal skills, essential functions and knowledge to function in a broad variety of clinical settings, while rendering a wide spectrum of healthcare services.

The faculty of the COHP have a responsibility for the welfare of the patients treated or otherwise affected by students enrolled in the College as well as for the educational welfare of its students relative to the educational programs of the College. In order to fulfill this responsibility the Committees on Admissions for the various professional programs of the College maintain that certain minimal technical standards must be present in applicants to the various educational programs of the College. Candidates for the bachelor of science degree, as well as those enrolled in any graduate education programs of the College, must have the following essentials: motor skills; sensory/observational skills; communication skills; intellectual-conceptual, integrative, and quantitative abilities; and behavioral/social skills and professionalism.

The Committees on Admissions, in accordance with Section 504 of the 1973 Vocational Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act (PL101-336) have established the aforementioned essential functions of students in the educational programs offered by the COHP.

These Committees on Admissions will consider for admission applicants who demonstrate the ability to perform, or to learn to perform, the essential skills listed in this document. The College must ensure that patients are not placed in jeopardy by students with impaired intellectual, physical or emotional functions. Students will be judged not only on their scholastic accomplishments, but also on their physical and emotional capacities to meet the full requirements of the College´s curricula and to graduate as skilled and effective practitioners.

The essential abilities listed in this document can be accomplished through direct student response, the use of prosthetic or orthotic devices, or through personal assistance, e.g., readers, signers, note-takers. The responsibility for the purchase of prosthetic or orthotic devices serving a student in meeting the abilities noted remains with the student and/or agency supporting the student. The College will assist with this accomplishment, as required by law and institutional policy.

Upon admission, a student who discloses a properly certified disability will receive reasonable accommodation but must be able to perform the essential functions of the curriculum and meet the standards described herein for the program in which the student is enrolled. Possible accommodations include opportunities for individual and group counseling, peer counseling, linkages with community services, faculty advisory committees whose members are aware of disabled students and their needs, career counseling, assistance with job searches and interview skills, and extended test taking time, if and when appropriate. Students seeking accommodations should initiate their request in the Office of the Dean, COHP at 930 Madison Ave., 6th Floor or the Office of Students with Disabilities, Student Academic Support Services at 8 S. Dunlap, Room BB9, General Education Building.

In addition to the general standards described above, each professional program requires additional specific standards.

Revised: February 2004

Additional Technical Standards For Physical Therapy Students

The delivery of physical therapy requires gross and fine motor control. Students in the Department of Physical Therapy must have the physical strength, stamina, and motor control to lift and transfer patients, assist patients with ambulation, stand for prolonged periods of time, perform CPR, and perform all other activities associated with patient care. Candidates must have sufficient manual dexterity, strength and endurance to engage in physical therapy procedures that involve palpating, grasping, pushing, pulling, and holding. Additionally, the student must be able to ensure the safety of the patient at all times.
Students in the Department of Physical Therapy must be able to observe demonstrations and participate in all educational experiences as required in the curriculum. Students must be able to observe patients and be able to obtain an appropriate medical history directly from the patient or guardian. Such observation and participation necessitates the functional use of vision, hearing, and other sensory modalities.
Students in the Department of Physical Therapy must be able to communicate in English effectively and sensitively with patients. In addition, students must be able to communicate in English in oral and written form with faculty, other healthcare providers, and peers in the classroom, laboratory, and clinical settings. Such communication skills include hearing, speaking, and reading and writing in English. Students must have the ability to complete reading assignments and search and evaluate the literature. Students must be able to complete written assignments and maintain written records. Students must also have the ability to use therapeutic communication, such as attending, clarifying, coaching, facilitating, and touching. These skills must be performed in clinical settings, as well as the didactic and laboratory environments.
Students in the Department of Physical Therapy must have the ability to measure, calculate, reason, analyze, and synthesize data. Problem solving and diagnosis, including obtaining, interpreting, and documenting data, are critical skills demanded of physical therapists which require all of these intellectual abilities. These skills allow students to make proper assessments, sound judgments, appropriately prioritize therapeutic interventions, and measure and record patient care outcomes. Students must have the ability to use computers for searching, recording, storing, and retrieving information. In addition, students must be able to comprehend three-dimensional relationships and understand the spatial relationships of anatomic structures.

Students in the Department of Physical Therapy must demonstrate attributes of empathy, integrity, concern for others, interpersonal skills, interest, and self motivation, as such qualities are assessed not only during the admissions process but throughout physical therapy education. Students must be able to exercise sound judgment, complete the responsibilities attendant to the evaluation and care of patients, and develop mature, sensitive, and effective relationships with patients. Students must be able to adapt to ever-changing environments, display flexibility, respect individual differences and learn to function in the face of uncertainties and stresses that are inherent in the educational process, as well as the clinical problems of many patients.

Students must have the ability to be appropriately assertive, delegate responsibilities appropriately, and function as part of a physical therapy team. Such abilities require the organizational skills and initiative necessary to meet deadlines and manage time.

Revised: August 2011

Last Published: Feb 6, 2020