About the Department : Chair’s Message

A message from Dr. Neva Kirk-Sanchez, PhD, PT

The Department of Physical Therapy seeks to embody the American Physical Therapy Association vision of physical therapists as individuals involved in “ Transforming society by optimizing movement to improve the human experience. ”  We do so by our efforts in the areas of, education, clinical care and research.


Excellence in Education:  The department offers three educational programs, an entry-level Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT), a Doctor of Philosophy in Physical Therapy (PhD), and two Clinical Residency Programs. 
• The DPT Program has been continuously accredited by CAPTE since 2003 and has been ranked in the top 10 programs in physical therapy in the U.S. by U.S. News & World Report since 1995. The thousands of graduates from our program provide high quality and compassionate care across the country and around the world.  Many have become leaders in clinical care, clinical research and education. Our PhD Program in Physical Therapy was established in 1995, and was the first PhD in Physical Therapy Program in the Southeastern U.S. The program was designed to prepare physical therapists for academic faculty positions by providing them with in depth knowledge in a specific content area, training in research methodology, and training in education at a university level.  Graduates of our PhD program have gone on to academic and research positions at universities around the country and have made significant contributions to the body of evidence that supports clinical practice in physical therapy.
• The department provides advanced training in clinical specialty areas through two clinical residency programs: The University of Miami/ Miami Children’s Hospital Pediatric Physical Therapy Clinical Residency Program, and the University of Miami Orthopedic Physical Therapy Residency Program.  Our Pediatric Residency, established in 2011, is the only program in the State of Florida.  Our Orthopedic Residency program is a 12 month program which provides advanced training across the spectrum of Orthopedic physical therapy patient care.  The department has also has a collaborative relationship with the St. Katherine’s/Villa Maria Geriatric Physical Therapy Residency Program.  Plans are underway for the development of residency programs in Neurology, Cardiopulmonary, and Sports Medicine specialty areas. 


Excellence in Clinical Care:
• The clinical division of the Department of Physical Therapy was inaugurated in September of 2008, when UM purchased University of Miami Hospital and the Department of Physical Therapy assumed responsibility for delivering clinical physical therapy services for UHealth.
• The UMPT clinical division has grown to include many specialty programs to meet the   needs of the patients seen by our highly specialized and world renowned UHealth physicians   The Department has recruited and developed physical therapists with advanced credentials and specialty clinical skills. The clinical faculty and staff include physical therapists with board certification in orthopedics, cardiopulmonary, and sports physical therapy, as well as therapists with advanced training in pelvic floor rehabilitation, vestibular rehabilitation, and oncology rehabilitation. 
• In addition to clinical services provided at UMH, we now have 5 additional physical therapy satellite clinics that provide physical therapy outpatient services at locations in Dade and Broward counties.  The Department also provides therapy services to the UM Athletic Department
• The Local Global Outreach (L.A.G.O.) initiative was born in October of 2014 with a student mission trip to provide physical therapy services to an underserved community in Costa Rica, and in September 2015, a weekly pro-bono clinic will begin providing services to our local community in need of physical therapy care.


Excellence in Research and Innovation:  We strive to add to the body of knowledge in physical therapy and movement science through research and innovation. 
• UMPT faculty researchers investigate treatment and prevention strategies for patients with a wide range of diagnoses including congestive heart failure, spinal cord injury, amputation, cognitive disorders, childhood obesity and athletic injuries. Our researchers also collaborate with a investigators from other UM Schools and Departments and outside community partners. UMPT researchers have been funded internally by the Department and the University and by a wide range of outside agencies.  UMPT Researchers conduct their activities at field sites across the university, local community and the nation as well as in several university research laboratories.


For more than 30 years, the Department of Physical Therapy has been training physical therapists to help in the mission to “transform society by optimizing movement to improve the human experience.”  We also strive to train physical therapy educators and researchers to lead the next generation of physical therapist clinicians in fulfilling this mission.  Our faculty continuously works to add to the body of knowledge in and promote the science of physical therapy across the spectrum of physical therapy care.


Neva Kirk-Sanchez, PhD, PT
Associate Professor and Chair
DPT Program Director
Department of Physical Therapy
University of Miami Miller School of Medicine