Essential Skills and Behaviors

Guided by its Catholic and Lasallian heritage, Lewis University is firmly committed to fostering a campus atmosphere that is permeated by its Mission-based values of Fidelity, Wisdom, Knowledge, Justice and Association. As such, we seek to be “A Place and a People Committed to Diversity.” Accordingly, we have declared the University campus to be a Sanctified Zone, a place where people are committed to working to end racism, bias and all types of prejudice by valuing diversity in a safe and nurturing environment.

Lewis University recognizes and supports the standards set forth in Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Amendments Act of 2008, and similar state laws, which are designed to eliminate discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities.

The Doctor of Physical Therapy Program at Lewis University prepares students for careers as physical therapists in employment settings including hospitals, rehabilitation centers, schools, patient’s homes, and outpatient clinics. Graduates are trained to provide physical therapy services to patients experiencing a wide variety of conditions. Graduates are prepared for licensure indicative that the physical therapist is allowed to practice in all aspects of the physical therapy profession. The DPT curriculum requires that all students acquire didactic knowledge as well as learning skills and attitudes essential to the profession and agreed upon by the faculty as requisite for the practice of physical therapy. Thus, both cognitive and technical skills are necessary to complete the curriculum.

The faculty of the Physical Therapy Program has a responsibility for the welfare of the patients treated or otherwise affected by students enrolled in the program as well as for the educational welfare of its students. The technical standards developed for the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program establish the essential qualities necessary for students to achieve the knowledge, skills and abilities of a novice physical therapist and meet the expectations of the Commission for Accreditation of Physical Therapy Education. Thus, individuals must meet the technical standards described below, with or without accommodation, throughout their course of study. Information related to accommodation and the Lewis University can be accessed through the Academic Services Offices or at this website.

The following description of skills and attributes is not intended to preclude individuals with disabilities or special needs who may require reasonable accommodations.

Motor Skills

The student must have sufficient motor capabilities to execute the movements and skills required to provide safe and effective physical therapy patient/client management. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Performance of moderately strenuous physical activities.
  • Coordination, speed, and agility to assist and safely guard (protect) patients who are walking, exercising or performing other rehabilitation activities.
  • Adjust, move, and position equipment and patients, which involves bending or stooping freely to floor level, reaching above the head, lifting, carrying, pulling, and pushing.
  • Provide cardiopulmonary resuscitation
  • Manipulate small devices used in physical therapy such as adjusting gauges, dials, small nut/bolts, and equipment settings
  • Elicit information from patients by palpation, auscultation, percussion and other examination procedures.
  • Legibly record/document all records required for academic and clinical coursework

Sensory / Observational Skills

The student must be able to demonstrate the functional use of vision, hearing and other sensory modalities. These include but are not limited to:

  • Observe demonstrations and participate in laboratory coursework
  • Obtain an appropriate medical history directly from the patient or guardian
  • Determine the physical needs of any patient with potential emergency medical conditions
  • Palpate a pulse and detect changes or abnormalities of surface texture, skin temperature, body segment contour, muscle tone, and joint movement.
  • Sufficient position, movement and balance sensations to assist and safely guard (protect) patients with movement dysfunctions

Communication Skills

Students must be able to utilize effective and efficient communication with peers, faculty, patients and their families, and other health care providers. These include but are not limited to:

  • Read at a competency level that allows one to safely carry out all academic and clinical assignments
  • Effectively communicate verbally (interpret and express) information regarding the comfort and well-being of patients, and to communicate with patients/families, health care professionals and third-party payers.
  • Recognize, interpret and respond to nonverbal behavior of self and others


Students must be capable of behaviors required for the successful conduct of physical therapy in all environments. These include but are not limited to:

  • Exercising good judgment
  • Developing empathetic and therapeutic relationships with patients
  • Tolerating close physical contact with other students, colleagues and patients
  • Working appropriately with patients, other students and co-workers in stressful situations
  • Prioritizing multiple tasks, integrate information and make decisions
  • Acting safely and ethically during all academic and clinical environments
  • Establishing rapport with patients, students and co-workers from a variety of ethnic and cultural backgrounds

Lewis University’s DPT Program is committed to preparing high quality physical therapists who act ethically, responsibly, and safely in practice. The practice of physical therapy requires a complex set of essential skills and aptitudes.

An offer of admission to the Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) Program should not be interpreted as evidence that the DPT Program has independently verified an applicant’s skills and attributes in the domains described above. These essential skills and attributes, however, must be demonstrated through the program of study if students are to be successful in achieving the competency standards of entry-level practice in the profession.

Reasonable Accommodation

Students who anticipate that reasonable accommodations will enable them to meet the required standards for the listed skills and attributes are responsible for articulating their requirements. Requests for accommodation should be made as early as possible. Requests are considered on a case-by-case basis and are reviewed in collaboration with the student and the Center for Academic Success & Enrichment. Any information shared will remain confidential and any records generated in this regard shall be retained independently from a student’s file.

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