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Connect theory to your professional practice.


Tailor your study to fit your individual needs and professional interests. In this capstone course, the type of doctoral project you carry out can fall into one of five areas: case reports, community health projects, professional in-service, teaching, or preparation for a clinical specialty.

For some projects, the primary information and activity will be the creation of a clinical or administrative case-report presentation. For others, the activity and outcomes will focus on the creation of an educational in-service or teaching-learning discovery. Another potential area is the identification of a public health issue related to a community need, and the generation of a program or mechanism for addressing that issue.

Finally, if you are interested in obtaining an advanced certification in one of many approved sections, you have the option to use the practicum to prepare for the specialty examination. The expectation for many of these projects is eventual publication and/or presentation in a professional forum.

Doctoral Project Areas

Depending on your career goals, you’ll complete your project in one of the following five areas:

  1. Preparation for clinical specialty
  2. Case report writing
  3. Community health
  4. Professional in-service
  5. Teaching practicum

Sample Assignment

Depending upon which capstone project option you choose (community health, case report writing, professional in-service, teaching or preparation for clinical specialty) the end product may be a formal presentation to your peers and faculty with additional handouts that reflect:

  • an insightful and well-summarized synopsis of your research or service activity
  • professional literature that supports your rationale for carrying out the research project or service activity
  • a clear understanding of the relevance of the project to physical therapy service

Preparation for Clinical Specialty

The American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties certifies physical therapists in eight areas including cardiovascular and pulmonary physical therapy, clinical electrophysiology, women’s health, geriatrics, neurology, orthopedics, pediatrics and sports. The final project is the culmination and presentation of a professional portfolio that prepares you to sit for any of the specialty examinations.

  • Case Report Writing
    Case reports describe a unique patient diagnosis, a new or poorly researched examination technique or intervention, or a unique administrative/educational process. Your project will consist of a clinical or administrative case report. This report will be created in either a poster or platform style, so that you could present it at an American Physical Therapy Association or state conference.
  • Community Health Program
    Virtually all communities have unmet public health needs. You’ll identify such a need in your community and use resources discovered through literature searches to design a project that addresses that need. Your project can involve any population or age group, and can entail screening, intervention, or any other aspect of care.
  • Professional In-Service
    As a physical therapist, you understand the value of continuing education for those in the profession. You’ll identify a need in your workplace for an educational in-service for your peers/colleagues. Using literature searches and other tools, you’ll research and design a professional in-service that could be performed at your facility or in your community for other health care providers. Your project can address any topic you feel is of educational value to your colleagues.
  • Teaching Practicum
    You’ll serve as a teaching assistant (T.A.) in the tDPT program. During this time, you’ll complete coursework that explores topics that include the teaching philosophy, ethics, paper grading, outcome assessment tools and more.

    Journaling your experiences as a T.A. throughout the course will provide you with a resource for the final project, a reflective assignment to be shared with your peers and the instructor at the end of the course.

Programs that include this course