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Essential Functions


The Maryville University Physical Therapy Program seeks to admit and retain students who have the ability to become highly competent physical therapists. Essential functions, skills, and abilities ensure that the student possesses all of the necessary attributes of the academic program required for graduation.

Essential functions, skills, and abilities refer to the physical, cognitive, and behavioral abilities required for satisfactory completion of all aspects of the curriculum and the development of professional attributes required by the faculty of all students.

  • Cognitive ability is required to master relevant content in basic science and clinical courses and to think critically and reflectively; for example, evaluating all aspects of a patient and assessing each component of data for its impact on the possible diagnoses as well as the same process of assessing the alternatives and the potential impacts of each on the patient’s problems.  All aspects include educational, community, societal, work related, and family related areas as well as direct physical and psychological findings from the patient.
  • Interpersonal skills are required to interact with groups of individuals from a variety of backgrounds; for example, establishing rapport with patients, clients, and colleagues; recognizing psychosocial impact of dysfunction/disability; and integrating the needs of the patient and family into the plan of care.
  • Communication ability is required to communicate both in verbal and written form; for example, explaining treatment procedures, obtaining essential information from the patient and others, educating patients, and documenting physical therapist actions and patient responses.
  • Mobility skills are required to move from room to room and maneuver in small spaces; for example, transferring patients and responding to emergencies.
  • Gross and Fine Motor skills are required to provide safe and effective physical therapy; for example, simultaneously doing different activities with each hand, calibrating and using equipment, positioning patients/clients, guarding and assisting with transfers and ambulation, performing ROM, debridement, CPR, using physical agents, and the ability to lift, carry, pull, push, reach, stand, walk, kneel, bend, climb, balance, and operate electrical equipment.
  • Hearing ability is required to monitor and assess health needs; for example, hearing and monitoring alarms, emergency signals, and cries for help.
  • Visual ability is required to monitor and assess health needs and equipment; for example, measuring and observing patient responses, monitoring vital signs, visual inspection and calibrating or adjusting equipment.
  • Tactile ability is required for physical assessment; for example, performing palpation, physical examination or intervention and applying resistance during treatment or assessment.
  • Coping skills are required to perform in stressful environments or during impending deadlines; for example, working with terminally ill patients, fast paced clinical situations, psychological responses of patients to their disabilities, etc.
  • Behavioral skills are required to demonstrate professionalism and possess attributes which include compassion, empathy, altruism, integrity, responsibility, and tolerance; for example: practicing safely, ethically, and legally; participating in scientific inquiry; and demonstrating responsibility for lifelong professional growth and development.

It is the responsibility of the student with disabilities to request accommodations he/she feels are reasonable and are needed to execute the essential requirements.