May 31, 2020  
2017-2018 Catalog 
2017-2018 Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Physical Therapy

2157 William S. White Building
(810) 762-3373
Fax: (810) 766-6668

Director: Allon Goldberg PT, Ph.D.
Associate Director for Professional Education:  Susan Ann Talley, PT, DPT, C/NDT
Associate Director for Post Professional Transitional DPT, Non Degree Programs, and Clinical Practice: James Creps, PT, DScPT, OCS, CMPT
Co-Associate Director for Clinical Education:  Karen Berg, PT, DPT, OCS
Co-Associate Director for Clinical Education: Erica Sherman, PT, DPT, MBA
Associate Director for Research and Ph.D. Program: Cathy A. Larson, PT, Ph.D.
Business Administrator:  Ellen L. Buchholz, MPA, BBA
Program Coordinator: Christina Wixson
Administrative Specialist: Karen Davis
Administrative Assistant Senior: Yulelissa Munger
Adminstrative Assistant Senior: Frank Fanzone
Secretary Senior: Beverly Ruber

Professor Donna Fry; Associate Professors Allon Goldberg, Cathy Larson;  Clinical Associate Professor Becky Rodda;  Assistant Professors Bara Alsalaheen, Jennifer Blackwood, Min Huang, Laura Smith, Susan Talley, Chad Tiernan, Amy Yorke; Clinical Assistant Professors Erica Sherman, Leslie Smith, Ryan Bean

Professor Emeritus Richard E. Darnell, Professor Emerita Lucinda A. Pfalzer, Associate Professor Emeritus Paulette Cebulski, Clinical Associate Professor Emeritus Cynthia Kincaid

Physical therapists are licensed health care professionals whose aim is to restore, maintain and promote optimal physical function, wellness and fitness in persons of all ages. This is accomplished through the evaluation and management of movement dysfunction, which may result from diseases, disorders, or injuries.

Physical therapists diagnose within the scope of physical therapy practice and manage movement dysfunction in four body systems:  the cardiopulmonary system, the musculoskeletal system, the nervous system, and the integumentary (skin) system. Examples of interventions used for each of these systems are fitness conditioning, prevention of joint deformity, pain reduction and wound care. Interventions are selected to prevent the onset and progression of impairments and may include various forms of exercise, soft tissue management, heat, cold, electricity and ultrasound.

Physical therapists work closely with and frequently refer patients to other professionals in a variety of settings including hospitals, clinics, rehabilitation facilities, nursing homes, school systems, home health care, industrial clinics, and public health agencies. Physical therapists are also involved in administration, physical therapist and physical therapist assistant education, research and consultation. Clinical specialization is available through the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties of the American Physical Therapy Association to the experienced clinician in eight practice areas, cardiovascular and pulmonary, clinical electrophysiology, geriatrics, neurology, orthopedics, pediatrics, sports, and woman’s health. Physical therapy is an integral part of the spectrum of health care. The profession is evolving to take on a more independent role in providing health care in a direct access market. Direct access allows the patient to enter the health care system directly through the services of the physical therapist without seeking the services of other health care practitioners first.

Department Mission and Assessment

The faculty and staff in the Physical Therapy Department at the University of Michigan-Flint are student-centered and committed to excellence in undergraduate, professional, post-professional teaching and learning, scholarship, practice and service. The Department’s graduates are highly qualified doctors of physical therapy who are engaged citizens and leaders in the physical therapy profession, in accordance with standards of the American Physical Therapy Association.

The Physical Therapy Department actively participates in annual assessment of its programs to facilitate excellence in education. Faculty make curriculum and program changes based on these assessments. Students admitted to the programs offered by the Department are expected to abide by the implemented curricular changes. The Department also participates in university-wide assessment efforts for the Higher Learning Commission of North Central Accreditation. Information on assessment plans, including goals, methods and outcomes, is available at

Academic Regulations and Procedures

Students are expected to maintain satisfactory performance in their academic courses, clinical internships, and professional/ethical conduct. While enrolled in a program within the Physical Therapy Department, the student is subject to the policies and procedures of the program regarding academic standards and professional conduct. Because the student is enrolled in the School of Health Professions and Studies (SHPS)  , the student is also subject to the policies and procedures of SHPS. All regulations of the University of Michigan-Flint  also apply to students in the Physical Therapy Department of SHPS. Students should make note of these regulations, which appear in other sections of this catalog. Specific rules and regulations adopted by the faculty of the Physical Therapy Department are presented in the sections that follow.

Grading System

Refer to the Graduate Study section for the grading scale. The report of an I (incomplete) grade may be made by the instructor if the student is unable to meet the course requirements within the specified time due to extended illness or a family crisis. An I grade may be made up while a student is not enrolled and must be made up by the end of the second week of the next semester in which the student is enrolled. If, for sufficient reason, a student cannot remove the incomplete within the two-week period, an extension request form must be approved by both the course instructor and the Department Director and forwarded to the Office of the Registrar. Failure either to make up the grade within the allotted time or to have an extension approved will result in the I automatically being changed to a grade of E. A grade once reported (with the exception of I) may be changed only to correct a demonstrable error.

Credit without Grade (Pass/Fail)

The pass/fail option applies only to specific courses so designated in the course schedule by individual SHPS departments. Courses elected for credit without grade are not included in the calculation of the grade point average.

Changes in Course Elections (Drop/Add)

Changes in course elections include dropping and adding courses. It is the student’s responsibility to adhere to the published deadlines for dropping and/or adding a course. Granting withdrawal from the Physical Therapy Department programs with or without intention to return is a prerogative of the Physical Therapy Department faculty. 

Academic Standing

The faculty of the Department, acting on behalf of the University, has the responsibility of defining academic standards and reserves the right to remove from any Physical Therapy Department program any student whose academic standing, in the judgment of the faculty, is regarded as unsatisfactory. To maintain satisfactory academic standing, a student must have a minimum cumulative graduate grade point average of B (5.0 on a 9 point scale or 3.0 on a 4 point scale) for all graduate courses taken for credit and applied toward any degree or certificate offered in the Physical Therapy Department. Academic records of all students are reviewed by the administrative staff of the Physical Therapy Department at the end of each semester according to the Academic Progression Policy and Procedure. Students whose cumulative grade point average falls below a B (5.0 on a 9 point scale or 3.0 on a 4 point scale) in a given semester are reviewed by the Associate Director for the appropriate program.  A written notice of academic probationary status is given to the student. The complete policy can be found in the Student Handbook for the appropriate program.   

Appeals Procedure 

Students admitted to the Physical Therapy Department programs agree to follow established policies and procedures which govern academic performance, clinical competency, and ethical standards of the profession (APTA Code of Ethics). Specific appeals procedures are outlined in the Student Handbook for specific programs. For issues or complaints involving a faculty member, the appeal procedure should be initiated after consultation with the faculty member whenever possible. 

For issues or complaints of a discriminatory or sexually harassing nature the student should consult with the University Human Resources or the Dean of the School of Health Professions and Studies. Formal complaints must be filed with the University Human Resources. 

English Proficiency Requirements for all Physical Therapy Programs

For applicants who’s native language is not English and/or who received their physical therapy degrees in a country other than the United States, Canada (English-speaking provinces), Australia or the United Kingdom, evidence of English proficiency must be provided through one of the methods listed below in item 1.  This requirement applies even to those who are currently U.S. citizens or permanent residents and regardless of how long they have resided or been educated in the U.S.*

1. Take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) test, the Michigan English Language  Assessment Battery (MELAB) or the Examination for the Certificate of Proficiency in English (ECPE). Scores must be no more than two (2) years old.  The table below indicates the minimum acceptable scores for admission, as well as the scores and score ranges for which a supplemental English writing course will be required upon admission to the program:

Exam Minimum Score for Admission English Writing Course Required IF:
TOEFL PBT & TWE 560 overall Overall less than 600 or TWE less than 5.0
TOEFL iBT 84 overall Overall less than 101 or WR less than 27
IELTS 6.5 overall Overall less than 7.5 or Writing less than 7
MELAB 80 overall Overall less than 85 or Composition less than 85
ECPE Certificate of Proficiency Writing score = LP (Low Pass)


All candidates whose native language is not English must also provide the items below as appropriate.

2.   Provide an official transcript showing a degree earned at an accredited U.S., Canadian (English-speaking), Australian, or U.K. college or university OR successful completion (‘C’ or higher) of ENG 111 or ENG 112 or its equivalent.

3.   Provide a copy of your FCCPT Comprehensive Credential Evaluation Certificate.

*U.S. citizens and permanent residents who wish to have this requirement waived may make a case to the Associate Director of the appropriate Physical Therapy Department program.  The PT Director, in turn, must make the case to the Dean of Graduate Programs.  Sufficient evidence of the requisite English proficiency must be provided.

Programs in Physical Therapy

The Physical Therapy Department at the University of Michigan-Flint offers Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) and Doctor of Philsophy (Ph.D.) programs, as well as a joint DPT/MBA program:

Professional Physical Therapy Program (DPT)  

Physical Therapy Post-Professional Transitional Program (DPT)  

Physical Therapy/Master of Business Administration (Dual DPT/MBA)  

Physical Therapy (Ph.D)  

In addition, a Physical Therapy Post-Professional Clinical Certificate Program  and a Physical Therapy Post-Professional Residency  are offered in three areas of clinical specialization including, neurology, orthopedics and pediatrics.


The Professional Doctor of Physical Therapy Program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE) of the American Physical Therapy Association, 1111 North Fairfax Street, Alexandria, Virginia 22314; telephone: 703-706-3245; email:; website:  

The Post-Professional Doctor of Physical Therapy Program is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, 30 North LaSalle Street, Suite 2400, Chicago, IL 60602-2504, phone (800) 621-7440/ (312) 263-0456. 

The part-time, online Clinical Certificate program at the University of Michigan-Flint is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, 30 North LaSalle Street, Suite 2400, Chicago, IL 60602-2504, Phone (800) 621-7440/ (312) 263-0456.

Post-Professional Physical Therapy Clinical Certificate and Residency Programs



The online, part-time, Clinical Certificate and Residency programs meets the needs of licensed U.S. and Canadian practicing physical therapists by enhancing knowledge in important areas of advanced practice including clinical specialization using an evidence-based practice approach and the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) descriptions of specialty practice. The three-certificate curriculum is designed to enable students to succeed in select ABPTS areas of board certification as clinical specialists in Neurologic, Orthopedic or Pediatric physical therapy and to achieve the related objectives in the descriptions of specialty practice as defined by the APTA. 

More information about ABPTS specialist certification and the national board examination is available at:

More information about APTA Credentialed Residency programs may be found at:

Students are encouraged to be lifelong learners including but not limited to the use of current technology in the learning process.

Certificate and Residency Mission

The Physical Therapy Clinical Certificate and Residency programs at the University of Michigan-Flint (UM-F) prepare graduates to assume the roles required for contemporary, evidence-based advanced practice in an area of specialty practice. The Clinical Certificate program provides preparation and resources for licensed physical therapists seeking to obtain specialist certification by passing the ABPTS national board examination. 

Online Clinical Certificate and Residency Curriculum

The Clinical Certificate and Residency programs are focused on advanced, specialty practice in three practice specialties:  Orthopedics, Neurology, and Pediatrics.  The Clinical Physical Therapy Certificate program consists of a five-course, 18-credit sequence of didactic coursework, and an optional sixth 6-credit advanced practicum course for the residency component.  Generally, doctoral-prepared licensed physical therapists can complete the online, didactic requirements of the five courses with the additional advanced practicum course in 18 to 24 months (Track A) or 12 to 15 months (Track B).  The program builds on the contribution experience plays in developing physical therapy leaders and presents courses with immediate applicability to real world practice.

The curriculum is a planned program of post-professional didactic and clinical education, designed to advance significantly the student’s preparation as a provider of patient care services in a defined area of specialty practice. The program combines the theoretical basis of specialty practice and scientific inquiry with the opportunity for mentoring with an ABPTS clinical specialist. The curriculum provides students with multiple opportunities to enhance their learning. A variety of teaching formats are used, including but not limited to didactic teaching, discussions, group projects, presentations, and case reports. A modular course curriculum is used, supplemented by a self-instructional audio-visual system, extensive notes and background materials such as the APTA Guide to Physical Therapist Practice, 2nd edition, 2001, and the opportunity to pursue independent studies in physical therapy. The courses/modules are often taught in sections of less than 15-week semesters such as 10 weeks. 


Following the satisfactory completion of all five didactic courses, students may choose to take the Advanced Practicum (6 credits). This course is required to attain the one-on-one mentored experience required for a Residency in one the three areas of specialty practice: Neurologic, Orthopedic or Pediatric physical therapy. This clinical experience provides students an opportunity to engage in focused clinical mentoring with an ABPTS clinical specialist. The Advanced Practicum has Tracks A and B. 

Track A (non-traditional)
The student who chooses Track A is required to be available for the mentored experience. This enables the student “Resident” to remain at the current worksite while engaged in either a three-month, four hour/week one-on-one mentored experience or a six-month, two hour/week one-on-one mentored experience.  This may include traveling to site outside of work hours.

Track B (traditional)
The student who chooses Track B goes to a Practicum site for three months; some practicum sites are in distant cities or in other states. Students must provide their own transportation for travel to the Advanced Practicum. The student may be required to make his/her own arrangements for housing, as most facilities are no longer able to provide housing arrangements. A physical examination, immunizations, TB test and health insurance, and will be required of students at their own expense if required by the Advanced Practicum site. A leave of absence may be necessary from full time employment during the Advanced Practicum, due to the full-time residency demands made by the nature and scheduling of the program. 


The part-time, online Clinical Certificate program at the University of Michigan-Flint is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, 30 North LaSalle Street, Suite 2400, Chicago, IL 60602-2504, Phone (800) 621-7440/ (312) 263-0456. 

Admission to the Clinical Certificate/Residency Program

Students are admitted in the Fall semester only in a cohort class. Positions in the class are assigned to those candidates ranking highest among the group eligible for consideration. The number of available spaces in the cohort class for each of the threefour certificates is currently 15 students. Admission to the Clinical Certificate and Residency is the prerogative of the faculty of the Physical Therapy Department. Applicants are reminded that the supplemental application and reference forms are data sources that provide quantitative information about the applicant. The faculty utilizes these sources of information in the final admissions decisions. 

Admission Requirements

To be considered for admission, applicants must meet the following requirements and qualifications by the time they are admitted: 

  • Doctor of Physical Therapy degree from an accredited institution or current enrollment in the t-DPT program at UM-Flint
  • Current physical therapy license in the United States or Canada
  • Overall 3.0 GPA or higher (based on a 4.0 scale) in the physical therapy degree
  • Current CPR certification 

Application Process

To be considered for admission, an applicant must submit the following by the application deadline to the Office of Graduate Programs, 251 Thompson Library, before the admissions committee will evaluate the applicant’s file:

  • Application for Graduate Admission (apply online or with a paper application)
  • Application fee (non-refundable) payable to the University of Michigan-Flint
  • Supplemental application form
  • Official transcripts from the institution where the baccalaureate degree was earned and from the institution where the Physical Therapy degree was earned (if different from the college of the baccalaureate degree)
  • Two letters of recommendation:  We strongly suggest that you include individuals who are able to comment on your academic and clinical abilities, such as a former supervisor or instructor from an accredited physical therapy program and/or a physician you have worked with)
  • Statement of Purpose:  Attach or submit separately a career statement.  It should be typed and double-spaced.  Please use the following questions, as they relate to your clinical/academic circumstances, to assist in the preparation of the career statement:
  1. What are your professional goals or objectives related to advanced practice?
  2. How do you plan to accomplish these goals?
  3. How will the Certificate and credentialed APTA residency program at UM-Flint facilitate the accomplishment of your professional goals in advanced practice?
  4. How will you contribute to the physical therapy profession related to your area of advanced practice?
  • Copy of current Physical Therapy license issued in the United States or Canada
  • Copy of current CPR card
  • International students must submit additional documentation

An interview (by telephone, electronically or in person) with a PT faculty member may be scheduled after review of the applicant’s materials. 

Application Deadline

The Clinical Physical Therapy Certificate program admits in the Fall semester only.  To be considered for admission, an applicant must submit all application materials to the Office of Graduate Programs on or before the application deadline of May 1. 

The Physical Therapy Residency Program admits once per year.  To be considered for admission, an applicant must submit all application materials to:

Orthopedic, Neurologic and Pediatric Residency:  RF-PTCAS, March 1
Geriatric Residency:  Office of Graduate Programs, March 1


Students should be aware that they will be required to purchase professional textbooks, and if enrolled in the Advanced Practicum course, proof of current basic CPR. Projected costs for physical therapy students are available from the Cashier’s Office. Tuition and fees are subject to change without notice. 

Clinical Certificate/Residency Curriculum

To earn a certificate, students must complete all of the online courses within one of three clinical specializations (18 credits). The didactic curriculum includes the following essential elements of the descriptions of specialty practice identified by the ABPTS: state-of-the-art foundational knowledge of anatomy/kinesiology, histology, and pathology; patient client-management model elements of examination, diagnosis, prognosis and plan of care including procedural interventions and patient education; health care system issues and case studies.

Students must complete all five didactic courses in sequence (18 credits) with an elective sixth course, Advanced Practicum (residency). Students who elect to obtain the Residency must meet this requirement for one-on-one mentored clinical experience. All requirements must be completed within three years from the time of initial acceptance. In extreme circumstances, students may petition for a leave of absence from the program and be allowed to continue later on a space available basis. (An example of extreme circumstances would be a serious medical problem.) Degree candidates must attain an overall grade point average of 5.0 (B) on a 9 point scale (or 3.0 on a 4 point scale) or higher and receive no course grade below “C”.