The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, School of Health Professions, Department of Physical Therapy strives to select applicants who have the ability to become highly competent physical therapists. As an accredited physical therapy program, the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio’s curriculum in Physical Therapy adheres to the guidelines of the American Physical Therapy Association. Within these guidelines, The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio Department of Physical Therapy has the freedom and ultimate responsibility for the selection and evaluation of its students, the design, implementation, and evaluation of its curriculum, and the determination of who should be awarded a degree.


Admission and retention decisions are based not only on prior satisfactory academic achievement, but also on non-academic factors, which serve to insure that the candidate can complete the essential functions of the academic program required for graduation. The Department of Physical Therapy has the responsibility to the public to assure that its graduates can become fully competent and caring physical therapists, capable of doing benefit and not harm.


It is the philosophy of the Department of Physical Therapy that there are certain core performance standards and/or essential tasks and functions of an entry-level physical therapist. Therefore, it follows that in order to successfully progress and complete the professional component of the program, students in Physical Therapy must also possess or demonstrate the potential to achieve these core performance essentials.  It is acknowledged that certain sensory and motor deficits can be compensated for and that a reasonable degree of accommodation can and should be provided.  However, it is ultimately the student's responsibility to make certain that he/she can adequately perform the basic academic and clinical fieldwork requirements.

Purpose of the Core Performance Standards Document

The purpose of the Core Performance Standards document is designed to be advisory in natureand to educate potential students and studentsalready enrolled in the Professional Component of the Physical Therapy program regarding the minimum essential tasks and functions of a physical therapy student and of an entry-level generalist practitioner.


The technical standards outlined in the Core Performance Standards Document are non-academic requirements that a student must be able to meet to participate meaningfully in the program to demonstrate the skills required for safe effective practice in any health care setting where physical therapists practice.


These technical standards refer to those physical, cognitive, and behavioral abilities required for satisfactory completion of the curriculum, and the development of professional attributes required by the faculty at graduation. The essential abilities required by the curriculum are in the following areas: general, observational, communication, motor, critical thinking, interpersonal, behavioral and social attributes. 

General Abilities

To provide quality health care, the student is expected to possess functional use of the senses of vision, touch, hearing, taste, and smell.  All data received by the senses must be integrated, analyzed and synthesized in a consistent and accurate manner.  In addition, the individual is expected to possess the ability to perceive pain, pressure, temperature, position, equilibrium, and movement.


Observational Ability

The student is expected to participate in and observe demonstrations and experiments in the basic sciences including but not limited to physiologic and pharmacological demonstrations in animals, microbiologic cultures and microscopic study of organisms and tissues in normal and pathologic states.  The student is expected to observe the client accurately at a distance and close at hand to accurately assess health/illness alteration. The student is expected to be able to obtain visual information from clients including but not limited to movement, posture, body mechanics, and gait patterns for the purpose of evaluation of movement dysfunction. Inherent in this observation process is the functional use of the senses and sufficient motor capability to carry out the necessary assessment activities.



The student is expected to be able to effectively communicate verbally and non-verbally and to observe clients in order to elicit information, describe changes in mood, activity, and postures and to perceive non-verbal communications.  The student is expected to effectively communicate to other students, faculty, clients, peers, staff, and families to ask questions, explain conditions, and procedures, teach home programs, and to maintain safety in a timely manner within any/all academic and clinical settings. The student is expected to send and receive verbal communication in life threatening situations in a timely manner within acceptable norms of clinical settings. This requires the ability to read, write, and effectively utilize the English language. The student must be able to communicate effectively and sensitively with clients.


Motor Ability

The student is expected to be able to perform gross and fine motor movements required to provide physical therapy and operate equipment to deliver care safely, in a timely manner appropriate for the problems identified and consistent with the acceptable norms of all clinical settings.  Examples of movements the student must be able to perform include lifting, turning, transferring, transporting, and exercising the clients.  The student is expected to have the psychomotor skills necessary to perform or assist with procedures, treatments, administration of medication, managing of equipment, and emergency interventions.  The student is expected to be able to maintain consciousness and equilibrium at all times, and have the physical strength and stamina to perform satisfactorily in all clinical settings.


The student should have sufficient motor function to elicit information from patients by palpation, auscultation, percussion and other diagnostic maneuvers.   The student must be able to do laboratory tests and work with scientific and other instruments and machinery utilized in the practice of physical therapy.  The student should have motor skills necessary to administer emergency treatment such as CPR using the guidelines issued by the American Heart Association or the American Red Cross.  Such actions require coordination of both fine and gross muscular movements, equilibrium and functional use of the senses of touch and vision.


Critical Thinking Ability

The student is expected to have the ability to develop problem-solving skills.  This includes the ability to measure, calculate, analyze and synthesize objective as well as subjective data and make decisions that reflect consistent and thoughtful deliberation and clinical judgment.  In addition, the student should be able to comprehend three-dimensional relationships and understand the spatial relationships of structures.


Interpersonal Abilities

The student is expected to have the emotional stability required to exercise sound judgment, complete assessment and intervention activities.  The student is expected to establish rapport and maintain sensitive, interpersonal relationships with individuals, families and groups from a variety of social, emotional, cultural, and intellectual backgrounds.  The student is expected to have the flexibility to function effectively under stress.  Concern for others, integrity, accountability, interest and motivations are necessary personal qualities.


Behavioral and Social Attributes

A student must possess the emotional health required for full utilization of his/her intellectual abilities, the exercise of good judgment, the prompt completion of all responsibilities attendant to the diagnosis and care of clients, and the development of mature, sensitive and effective relationships with clients.  Students must be able to tolerate physically taxing workloads and to function effectively under stress.  Students must be able to adapt to changing environments, to display flexibility and to learn to function in the face of uncertainties inherent in the clinical problems of many clients.  Compassion, integrity, concern for others, interpersonal skills, interest and motivation are all personal qualities that should be assessed during the admissions and education processes.