Clinical Education

FIU’s Physical Therapy clinical education component prepares you to apply knowledge and skills in real-life clinical settings and other healthcare environments.

The varied experiences – more than 450 to choose from – will encourage you to be an evidence-based practitioner, develop professionals behaviors within the healthcare team dynamic, deliver and manage culturally competent and sound treatments of care, and professionally engage and collaborate with all patient and client communities.

  • 34

    Weeks clinical education

  • 12

    Credit hours

  • 450

    Internships opportunities

Breadth, Depth & Expectations

Clinical education is the process in physical therapy education where the student is given opportunities in a clinical setting to apply the knowledge, practice the clinical skills and develop professional behaviors with the healthcare team. Specifically, a clinical experience follows completion of a specific portion of the didactic education.

The locus of control, accountability, and decision-making authority are shared with the academic program and the clinical education site.

Students must work with patients of all ages and a variety of clinical conditions to provide them with the entry-level knowledge and skills they need in the general practice of physical therapy.

Our clinical education program is based on the recommendations outlined in APTA’s Normative Model for Physical Therapists Professional Education, Version 97. The curriculum reflects the interests of changing healthcare delivery systems, the profession, the patient/client, the clinical facility and higher education principles. For these reasons, each student’s clinical experience must include clinical work in a variety of practice settings.

Each student, over the three, 8-week, and one, 10-week, full time clinical experiences must have at least one experience in the each of the following settings:

  • Musculoskeletal experience (Outpatient Orthopedic setting)
  • Inpatient Experience (Acute or Neuro-rehab setting)
  • Elective setting

Our clinical education model can best be described as combining integrated and summative approaches. It is one that intersperses three, 8-week experiences within the didactic component of the curriculum, and then culminates with one, 10-week experience at the end of the program. The 34 weeks (12 credit hours) of experiences are interspersed throughout the span of your tenure in the DPT program as follows:

Experience 1 will occur in the fall of the second year, after students complete the necessary sequence in musculoskeletal disorders. For this clinical experience, students must stay within the South Florida, Tri-County area.

Experience 2 will occur in the fall of the third year, after students complete all the courses prior to advanced courses. Students can go in preferred geographic region with faculty approval. Students can go to any clinical setting with the exception of pediatrics.

Experiences 3 and 4 will occur in the spring and summer semesters of their final year. The students will be prepared to perform as competent DPT students in any clinical setting.

For more information, download the following documents:

Clinical Assignments

Clinical assignments are the responsibility of the FIU Physical Therapy Director for Clinical Education (DCE), who will consider students’ preferences, the objectives of the experiences and the resources available to the department.

The individuals participating in the clinical education experiences include the DCE, the student, the clinical instructor (CI), the site coordinator for clinical education (SCCE), and the academic faculty.

The Clinical Education Expectations for our DPT students are provided and discussed during the Clinical Education Seminar, PHT 5027, which takes place prior to the first clinical experience. Students are advised to include these expectations in their facility and clinical instructors.

Refer to the FIU DPT student handbook and the college’s Clinical & Fieldwork resources to prepare you for the FIU DPT clinical education experience.

Background Checks & Screenings

All students of the Nicole Wertheim College of Nursing & Health Sciences participating in clinical work must submit to background checks, fingerprint searches, drug screenings and immunization tracking through FIU Express.