Technical Standards | Chatham University, Pittsburgh, PA

Chatham University

Technical Standards

Chatham University Doctor of Physical Therapy

The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) Program at Chatham University prepares physical therapists who will serve as generalist practitioners. Graduates of the DPT Program must have the knowledge and skills to function in a variety of clinical settings and to render a wide spectrum of patient care. Thus, certain skills and abilities must be demonstrated in order to successfully complete both the didactic and clinical components of the curriculum with or without reasonable accommodations, regardless of disability status.

The Physical Therapy faculty have a dual responsibility for the welfare of the patients with whom students/graduates interact, and for the educational welfare of their students. The technical standards outlined below describe specific expectations for student performance in didactic and clinical environments. Inherent in these expectations is providing patient care within a time frame appropriate to the context of care. Individuals must be able to pass assessments throughout their course of study.

Students who believe they may need academic accommodations to fulfill these standards must contact the PACE Center at (412) 365-1611 or At any time while enrolled in the DPT Program, if a student is having difficulty meeting the standards, the student must inform the Program Director at that time. After consultation, if it is deemed the student is in need of academic accommodations, they can contact the PACE Center.

To perform the essential functions of a physical therapist and succeed in the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program, the student must demonstrate abilities and skills including (but not limited to) those listed the five areas below:


With or without reasonable accommodations, the student must demonstrate adequate sensory skills to:

  • Effectively observe demonstrations in the foundational and clinical sciences such as anatomical structures, normal and faulty movement, and performance of manual skills
  • Visually assess measuring devices such as a goniometer, a tape measure, and dials and displays on equipment
  • Effectively observe a patient/client accurately at a distance and close at hand, including during dynamic movement sequences


With or without reasonable accommodations, the student must demonstrate adequate communication skills to:

  • Effectively speak to, hear, and observe patients to elicit information
  • Recognize and respond to changes in mood, activity and posture
  • Demonstrate and perceive nonverbal communication in self and others


With or without reasonable accommodations, the student must demonstrate adequate psychomotor skills to:

  • Sustain the necessary physical activity level required in classroom and clinical environments (e.g., lift 50 pounds, stand for prolonged periods of time)
  • Obtain information from patients by palpation, mobilization and other diagnostic maneuvers
  • Aid patients and co-workers with intervention and functional activities
  • Use therapeutic interventions that require force and resistance
  • Adjust equipment
  • Respond quickly in the event of an emergency situation to provide patient care or to provide cardiopulmonary resuscitation
  • Manipulate objects using one and/or both hands


With or without reasonable accommodations, the student must demonstrate adequate intellectual and cognitive skills to:

  • Comprehend text, numbers, and graphs
  • Analyze complex problems with attention to detail
  • Comprehend three-dimensional/spatial relationships
  • Comprehend, retain, assimilate, analyze, synthesize, integrate concepts and problem solve with attention to detail
  • Use computers and other technology to learn and apply new content
  • Utilize knowledge from multiple sources


With or without reasonable accommodations, the student must demonstrate adequate behavioral and affective skills to:

  • Develop mature, sensitive, and therapeutic relationships with patients
  • Endure close physical contact with other students, colleagues, and patients
  • Function effectively while engaged in stressful situations
  • Make sound ethical and legally correct decisions
  • Adapt to changing environments and circumstances
  • Display compassion, integrity and respect for others
  • Self-assess in a reflective and constructive manner
  • Make clinical decisions despite uncertain conditions

Disability self-identification is voluntary and confidential. Chatham University offers reasonable accommodations for qualified, eligible students with disabilities. Please contact our Disability Support Services (412) 365-1611 or visit the PACE web site for information regarding documentation guidelines.