Technical Standards & Vaccination Requirements

The George Washington University (GW) School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS) Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program is dedicated to supporting students in all of their educational endeavors. The program's goal is to prepare students to become general practitioners who can provide quality care to a variety of patients across the lifespan. In order to successfully complete the program, applicants must have abilities and skills in the following areas: observation, communication, sensory and motor coordination or function, intellectual abilities, and professional behavior/social abilities. Reasonable accommodations will be made for students with documented disabilities in accordance with GW’s Disability Support Services (DSS). Students must meet all Program standards regardless of reasonable accommodations. 

Skills fundamental to Physical Therapy practice and to the DPT curriculum at GW include, but are not limited to, the following: 

Observational Skills

Students will be expected to:

  • Observe a patient accurately at a distance
  • Observe skin integrity
  • Discriminate findings on x-rays and other image test
  • Read and interpret written and illustrated material
  • Observe changes in body movement
  • Recognize signs of distress in patients/clients
  • Recognize signs of physiological changes in patients/clients
  • Discriminate numbers and findings associated with diagnostic instruments and test 

Students will be expected to: 

  • Communicate effectively and efficiently in oral and written English
  • Communicate appropriately with patients, family members, physicians, and other health care providers.
  • Participate in group meetings to deliver and receive complex information 
  • Respond to questions from a variety of sources 
  • Respond appropriately to verbal/non-verbal communication 
  • Share information formally and informally with others 
  • Complete forms according to directions in a timely fashion. 
  • Demonstrate sufficient communication skills to effectively train patients, families, and assistive personnel 
Sensory & Motor Coordination and Function

Students will be expected to: 

  • Stand and walk independently while providing care during training and patient care experiences 
  • Climb stairs and negotiate uneven terrains/ramps during training and patient care experiences 
  • Demonstrate sufficient freedom of movement to be able to participate in all classroom and clinic activities and provide safe and effective examinations and interventions 
  • Demonstrate sufficient balance and coordination to be able to participate in all classroom and clinic activities and provide safe and effective examinations and interventions 
  • Demonstrate sufficient strength to be able to participate in all classroom and clinic activities and provide safe and effective examinations and interventions, such as accommodating resistance and stability to all parts of the body, lifting and carrying heavy objects, guarding and transferring patients 
  • Demonstrate sufficient fine motor skills to be able to manipulate small objects 
  • Demonstrate sufficient fine motor and gross motor coordination skills to be able to provide safe and effective examinations and interventions 
  • Demonstrate sufficient strength and endurance to tolerate physically demanding workloads sustained over the course of a typical work or school day 
  • Demonstrate sufficient spatial awareness to be able to perform gross motor movements with partners and patients 
  • Effectively use palpation, compression, retraction, resistance, auscultation, percussion, and other diagnostic maneuvers 
  • Demonstrate sufficient visual, auditory, and tactile senses to respond to patient/client needs in a busy clinical environment 
  • Respond to bells and alarms related to emergencies and/or patient/client care
  • Recognize and respond appropriately to emergency situations
Intellectual Abilities

Students will be expected to: 

  • Measure, calculate, and reason 
  • Identify significant findings from history, physical examination 
  • Interpret laboratory data 
  • Analyze and synthesize information in a timely manner 
  • Problem-solve and diagnose 
  • Formulate an appropriate plan of care 
  • Comprehend three-dimensional spatial relationships of anatomic structures 
  • Utilize sufficient judgment to ensure safe encounters with peers and patients 
  • Utilize sufficient judgment to effectively delegate to assistive personnel 
Professional Behavioral/Social Abilities
p>Students will be expected to: 


  • Abide by the APTA code of Ethics, the Standards of Physical Therapy Practice and the Core Values which can be found on the American Physical Therapy Association’s (APTA) website
  • Establish professional, empathic relationships with individuals across the life span and from various cultures.
  • Demonstrate integrity and honesty in the academic and clinical environment.
  • Engage in respectful, non-judgmental interactions with individuals from various lifestyles, cultures, races, socioeconomic classes, and abilities.
  • Develop and maintain respectful working relationships with peers, faculty, professional colleagues, patients, family members and the general public.
  • Work effectively as part of an interdisciplinary team.
  • Recognize the psychosocial impact of movement dysfunction and disability on the client and family.
  • Self-evaluate through a process of reflection and provide objective peer assessments.
  • Accept appropriate suggestions and criticism and respond with suitable action
  • Adapt to changing environments
  • Identify and communicate the limits of their physical, emotional, and cognitive abilities to others and implement appropriate solutions.
  • Function effectively under stress 

Applicants/candidates/students with disabilities who meet the technical standards noted, with or without reasonable accommodations, shall not be excluded from participation in, denied the benefits of, nor be subjected to discrimination in the physical therapy program. 

Potential applicants are encouraged to observe practicing physical therapists performing the essential functions of the job in order to make an informed decision prior to applying to the program. Through these voluntary experiences, students who feel they are capable of completing these essentials are encouraged to apply. If applicable, please inform the program of the reasonable accommodation you may require. 

Vaccination Requirements 

The GW DPT program utilizes regional and national healthcare facilities to meet clinical and educational goals and objectives. Most healthcare facilities require evidence of vaccinations, including the COVID-19 vaccination (view CDC guidelines here), in order to participate in clinical experiences at their facilities. All admitted students acknowledge the program may not be able to place a student for clinical education experiences who has not received the required vaccinations, thus delaying their program of study and/or graduation.

Required Vaccinations

  • COVID-19 -  Please see CDC guidelines
  • Tuberculin Skin or Blood Test 
  • Tetanus/Diptheria Booster or T/DAP
  • Varicella (Chicken Pox) Vaccines or Proof of Immunity (Varicella Titer)
  • Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR) Vaccines or Proof of Immunity (MMR Titer)
  • Hepatitis B Series or Proof of Immunity (Hepatitis B Titer)
  • Meningococcal Vaccine
  • Annual Flu Vaccine