At the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, it's the mission of the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program to meet the physical therapy needs of the people in the State of Wisconsin and beyond. The curriculum is designed to produce a generalist clinician who is able to provide evidence-based quality care in an empathetic, professional manner, and who has the foundation to assume the roles of physical therapy educator, researcher, administrator, consultant and clinical specialist.

The graduate's role is to enhance physical abilities and wellness, and to improve the quality of life of persons seeking care. These roles are carried out through the processes of patient/client advocacy, and collaborative management and education of patients, families, colleagues and the community.

The philosophy behind the program's physical therapy curriculum focuses on the study of diagnosis of, and interventions for, improving dysfunctional human movement, and is built upon a foundation of evidence-based practice that includes scientific inquiry, patient values and clinical experience.

Classroom and clinical opportunities incorporate concern for the dignity of the individual by emphasizing integration of the patient/client into his/her own environment. Lifelong learning, as well as continued academic and professional growth, is fostered such that graduates can be leaders in meeting the future needs of patients/clients and the physical therapy profession.

We enact this mission and philosophy by setting relevant goals and objectives, measuring our program outcomes and fostering diversity.

Instructional tenets

The Doctor of Physical Therapy Program faculty work together to integrate topics throughout all courses in the curriculum. The curriculum is designed so that the courses build upon each other in sequential fashion. For this reason, the student is responsible for material from previously-taken prerequisite and program courses. The faculty is committed to being available for students as they "learn to learn."

The faculty is also committed to the concept of adult learning where instructors serve as facilitators in the process of learning, not solely as dispensers of knowledge. We believe that it is the instructor's responsibility to create an environment that is conducive to the student's learning and especially to his/her development as a professional. Such an environment is created when the instructor teaches in ways that stimulate the student's learning, provides timely feedback and seeks to support each student to realize his/her full potential.

Within this environment, the student holds the ultimate responsibility to determine the quality of his/her educational experience within the program. The faculty encourages students to take advantage of the wealth of resources on the UW-Madison campus.

Goal and objectives

It's the goal of the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program to be a leader in physical therapy education, resulting in quality service to society. The program intends to achieve this goal via the following objectives:

  • Recruiting and matriculating the most qualified and diverse students, challenging and supporting them to completion of the program
  • Developing generalist practitioners who are prepared to assume the roles of clinician, with foundational training in roles as educator, researcher, administrator and consultant
  • Recruiting and retaining diverse faculty who exemplify excellence in teaching and who serve as professional role models
  • Contributing to evidence-based practice through faculty and student scholarly activity
  • Facilitating life-long learning within the physical therapy community

For detailed information on curricular goals, generic abilities, and specific courses and descriptions, see our academic curriculum.

Program outcomes

A UW-Madison Doctor of Physical Therapy graduates will:

  • Practice the art and science of physical therapy as generalists who are recognized as members of a doctoring profession
  • Be the practitioners of choice by clients of all ages for managing movement-related dysfunction and for developing and implementing health promotion initiatives
  • Enter the profession as autonomous practitioners who engage in evidence-based practice and interdisciplinary collaboration
  • Serve their communities through participation in activities that address issues of cost, quality and access to health care
  • Assume leadership roles and engage in continuous professional development
  • Value and practice professional behaviors through their ethical, moral and legal actions
  • Demonstrate cultural sensitivity through their words and actions

Commitment to diversity

The UW-Madison Doctor of Physical Therapy Program, along with the American Physical Therapy Association, seeks to foster representation and participation of members of underrepresented groups in the profession of physical therapy. Initiatives targeted toward recruitment and retention of underrepresented students have been implemented within the Program, the School of Medicine and Public Health, the Madison campus and the UW System.