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Clinical Education

About PT Clinical Education | Clinical Education Expectations

The mission of Florida International University’s Physical Therapy clinical education component is to prepare students in applying knowledge and skills in real-life clinical environments. These varied experiences will prepare graduates to be evidenced-based practitioners, culturally diverse, professionally engaged and collaborative with our local and global communities.

About PT Clinical Education at FIU – Breadth and Depth

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, an internship is a clinical experience for the student that follows completion of a specific portion of the didactic education.

Our clinical education model can best be described as combining integrated and summative approaches. It is one that intersperses three, 8-week internships within the didactic component of the curriculum, and then culminates with one, 10-week internship at the end of the program.

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.  Each student must have clinical experience in three (3) practice settings, the fourth being an elective:

  1. Musculoskeletal experience (Outpatient Orthopedics, Sports)
  2. General acute care hospital 
  3. Neuromuscular experience (Inpatient neuro rehab, Sub-acute rehab, Skilled Nursing Facility, or Outpatient neuro rehab)
  4. One of the four internships is an elective

Clinical assignments are the responsibility of the academic coordinator for clinical education (DCE), who will consider the preferences of students, in addition to the objectives of the internships and the resources available to the department.

We believe that the clinical education component of the curriculum accommodates the interests of the changing healthcare delivery systems, the profession, the patient/client, the clinical facility, and higher education.  The outcomes of our clinical education program are congruent with the practice expectations found in A Normative Model for Physical Therapist Professional Education; Version 97, performance expectations found in the Physical Therapist Clinical Performance Instrument, and the Guide to Physical Therapy Practice.

We believe the clinical education component of our program will prepare our graduates to:

1)     Use entry-level practice skills in a safe and effective manner; and

2)     Understand the practice context in which those skills are used

The clinical education component of our curriculum will provide opportunities for students to:

1)     Learn in the clinical environment by applying knowledge, skills, and behaviors to practice; and

2)     Assess personal and professional strengths and limitations relative to practice

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

The curricular design of the clinical experiences, as stated previously, was based on the recommendations of the APTA as outlined in the Normative Model. The Normative Model has described several principles for the development of the clinical education component of the physical therapist education program.  These principles include issues in the area of: communication between the student, CI, CCCE, DCE, and academic faculty; the length and timing of clinical experiences, logistical issues in implementation of clinical experiences; guidelines for student, CI, and facility evaluation; and resource and funding issues.  The clinical experiences have been designed with these principles in mind to ensure that students participate in clinical education experiences that are diverse, high-quality, effective, and efficient; and that the FIU Physical Therapy Department and clinical facilities in the community have mutually beneficial working relationships.

This relationship is an asset to the physical therapist educational program in many ways.  In addition to providing quality on-site training to students, expert clinicians in the community are invited to deliver specific lectures to the students in the course of their didactic training.  Clinicians from Jackson Memorial Hospital,  Mercy Hospital, Baptist Hospital,  Doctor’s Hospital and many other hospitals in the community have delivered guest lectures, or organized student learning experiences to provide a link between the academic program and the clinical community in South Florida.


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Clinical Education Expectations

The FIU Physical Therapy clinical education program seeks to:

  1. Provide experiences that require the student to:  (1) manage resources (time, space, and equipment), (2) incorporate an understanding of economic factors and healthcare policy, and (3) adhere to ethical and legal standards with consideration of factors in the delivery of physical therapy services.
  2. Provide supervised learning experiences where students have the opportunity to deliver efficient patient practice specific to a given clinical setting (e.g., efficiency, cost, time, and goal achievement).  This will occur in an environment that allows for the design and implementation of effective learning experiences and fosters the integration, synthesis, and transformation of student’s knowledge, skills, and attitudes.
  3. Provide opportunities for students to apply the role of the physical therapist through a variety of diagnostic categories and within a cross-section of practice environments in the management of diverse patient population (age, gender, culture, etc.) throughout the continuum of care (i.e., longitudinal care) and in independent and collaborative practice. The experiences provided to the student will occur in environments that value education and will be organized, sequential and integrated ranging from introductory to entry-level performance as determined by the learning needs of the student, the requirements of the education program, and the resources of the clinical program.
  4. Recruit (develop) individuals who can model reflective practice and motivate and mentor others to model such behavior.
  5. Be facilitated and guided by using adult learning principles including active learning, flexibility in teaching/learning opportunities, and mentoring.
  6. Provide experiences that require the student to screen, perform an examination, provide an evaluation to determine diagnosis and prognosis with expected outcomes, design a plan of care, and perform interventions.
  7. Be structured to achieve intended outcomes based on identified objectives and expectations.
  8. Provide opportunities for seeing increasingly complex patients under appropriate supervision (related to the needs of the learner).
  9. Provide experiences that require the student to educate others, provide consultation, participate in activities addressing quality, and delegate to and supervise others with a varied skill mix.
  10. Recruit (develop) individuals who can model reflective  practice and motivate and mentor others to model such behavior.
  11. Provide experiences that require the student to demonstrate a commitment to patients, clinical facilities, and the profession.
  12. Provide experiences that require the student to use feedback and self-assessment to develop a plan for professional development and lifelong learning.
  13. Provide experiences that require the student to apply principles of logic and evidence-based practice to patient care.
  14. Provide opportunities for experience and practice in administration, education, consultation, and research.
  15. Provide ongoing opportunities for students to apply learned knowledge, skills, and attitudes.
  16. Reflect current and evolving practice and guided experience in responding to incorporating culture and adapting to a changing healthcare environment.
  17. Provide ongoing assessment of the learner, the clinical site, and academic preparation integrating feedback from multiple sources to include the DCE, CCCE, CI, students, academic faculty and others.  
  18. This assessment should be based on systematic progression toward competency and will sequentially measure that progression toward competency.
  19. The student will need to be provided with valid, meaningful, timely, objective, and measurable assessment of student performance. 
  20. Provide experiences that require the student to demonstrate professional behaviors and sensitivity to diversity to communicate with a variety of individuals and produce documentation related to patient care.
  21. Provide experiences that require the student to apply principles of logic and evidence-based practice to patient care.
  22. Provide the student with opportunities to develop patient care skills, assessment and treatment techniques, and professional communication habits in a variety of practice settings.  As well as to provide practice guidelines that assures that clinical interventions are based on theory, evidence, and critical inquiry.

These expectations are discussed with and given to students in the FIU Physical Therapy program during the Clinical Education Seminar, PHT 5027, which takes place prior to the first clinical internship experience.  Students are advised to include these expectations in their “Physical Therapy Student Portfolio”.  This in turn is shared with the individual clinical instructors.  

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