Clinical Education: Physical Therapy
Clinical education at South College provides students with exposure to a variety of physical therapy practice settings and a wide range of patient populations across the lifespan. These full-time experiences take place during the final year of study and immerse students into clinical settings as they learn to function as a Doctor of Physical Therapy. Clinical education experiences provide students the opportunity to apply their knowledge and skills to clinical situations under the direct supervision and guidance of experienced physical therapist clinicians. In clinical learning environments students develop safe and effective skills in all aspects of patient care while also developing the ability to work as part of a healthcare team.
Clinical Education Curriculum
Students complete 31 weeks of full-time clinical education as part of the DPT curriculum.
DPT 6530 Physical Therapy Practice I is an 8-week clinical experience scheduled in the 5th academic quarter. This clinical provides students with an introductory experience to apply knowledge and develop skills related to the patient management process from examination through discharge planning. Clinical placements for the 8-week experience provides students with clinical exposures within a continuum of care that typically includes inpatient acute, post-acute, long term rehabilitation, and/or home health services.
DPT 6720 Physical Therapy Practice II (7th quarter) and DPT 6820 Physical Therapy Practice III (8th quarter) occur at the end of the program and can be combined into a 23-week terminal clinical experience for the majority of students. Clinical placements for terminal clinical experiences will typically consist of general outpatient facilities that provide students with exposures to a variety of clinical specialties and patient presentations. The terminal clinical experience is designed to develop strong entry-level skills as a generalist physical therapist.
What makes our clinical education program different?
- Integrated Online Curriculum: Students have access to online coursework and resources during the terminal clinical experience to reinforce and integrate their didactic and clinical education. This curriculum enhances the overall clinical experience by providing structured learning materials to aid in clinical reasoning, self-reflection, and topics specific to the clinical setting.
- Post-professional Residency Assistance: South College’s Doctor of Physical Therapy program offers students the opportunity to easily transition into post professional external residencies (upon acceptance) after graduation. What does this mean for you? As a student, you can complete the entire DPT curriculum and external residency in three years – the normal time frame for most DPT programs alone.
- Clinical faculty: Clinical faculty are an integral part of our clinical experiences for students, and so we invest in those faculty by offering mentorship training via the APTA CI Credentialing course and additional resources as requested to structure your clinical hands-on experiences to complement students’ online curriculum. Many clinical faculty in the final terminal clinical experience are specialists in their field, have completed residency or fellowship training, and are chosen for their expertise and eagerness to work with students.
Clinical education is a key component in preparing our graduates for successful entry into the profession of physical therapy. We are committed to providing opportunities that will allow our students to work in a wide variety of settings and ultimately be positioned to transition to an external residency position after graduation if desired. The profession of physical therapy is moving forward, and our clinical education program is focused on keeping our graduates ahead of the curve.
Clinical Education Team
Sarah Harrison, PT, DPT, CCS
Director of Clinical Education
Faculty and Facilities
Clinical education faculty are valued members of the collective DPT faculty and vital to the success of the Program, graduates, and students.
To become a Clinical Instructor for a South College DPT student, the School requires that the interested licensed physical therapist demonstrate the following minimal criteria: at least one year of experience with clinical practice, competence within the patient population they are serving, and expressed interest in having a student and a commitment to assisting each student throughout the clinical experience to achieve the goals and objectives of clinical education. Additional preferred, but not required, qualifications for a clinical instructor include professional membership in the APTA, clinical instructor credentialing, ABPTS clinical specialist certification, or other advanced certifications or competencies in the area of practice in which clinical instruction is provided.
Clinical education is conducted in approved facilities that assist the program in achieving student learning goals and outcomes. In general, the DPT Program partners with clinical sites that provide exposure to patients/clients that are representative of those commonly seen in practice across the lifespan and the continuum of care. Practice settings should be representative of those in which physical therapy is commonly practiced and provide interactions with and mentorship by physical therapist role models whose practice is consistent with evidence-based and outcomes-oriented patient care and the program’s philosophy of practice.
South College currently affiliates with 2000+ facilities across the nation. The nature of our hybrid learning platform allows students to live at home during the majority of their education, and when possible, will help students access clinical education sites within their own home-town or state. This allows the student to maintain a professional connection to their community. Students are encouraged to relocate as necessary to gain experience in quality settings as they offer exceptional educational opportunities both as a student and potentially as a resident following graduation. Our affiliations for the terminal clinical experience are often developed as a result of our desire to place students in locations where a post-graduate residency program is possible.
Clinical Educator Resources