Hands-On Learning Opportunities

Students working on mobility with an adult participant

The DPT Program at SMU is driven to provide hands-on learning experiences to student throughout the curriculum. These innovated learning experiences occur early and often, building on student strengths and challenging their growth as they become physical therapists. We exceed national averages of students to faculty throughout our program.

Student to Faculty Ratios

  SMU National Average
Number of students per core faculty member    10 12.19
Number of students per core faculty member in laboratory experiences    11 13.42


Innovative Simulation-Based Learning
High integration of simulated and standardized patient experiences are strategically placed throughout curriculum, both early and often, to put learning into realistic clinical scenarios prior to clinical education experiences. The DPT program uses SMU's accredited Health Sciences Simulation Center (HSSC) for many of these hands-on learning opportunities. Students have lab sessions in the HSSC training rooms to gain familiarity with hospital-based equipment, such as hospital beds, gurneys, and IVs, common in hospital, emergency department, and ICU settings. Students have simulated or standardized patient interactions, where actors realistically portray patients, in every trimester of the program. This prepares students for upcoming real-world experiences by allowing them to simulate work with patients in settings that mimic those they will experience in their upcoming clinical placements. Additionally, we use the HSSC for high fidelity simulation experiences with simulation mannequins, where students can simulate work with critically ill patients. In small groups, students can practice patient encounters in a realistic manner, review their interactions via both live and recorded video/audio, and debrief on the experience with faculty and student observers to learn from their successes and mistakes.

Motion Analysis Research Center (MARC)

DPT students use the MARC in their biomechanics courses and in select Patient/Client Management course sessions to observe, test, and measure different aspects of human gait, functional movement, and balance. Students see and use the equipment in the MARC to expand their learning and understanding of human motion and how these high-tech tools can be used for research and patient care. There may be additional opportunities to volunteer to help faculty with research occurring at the MARC as well.


Request more information

Vestibulum id ligula porta felis euismod semper. Nullam id dolor id nibh ultricies vehicula ut id elit. Sed posuere consectetur est at lobortis. Donec sed odio dui.