Physical Therapy Clinical

Clinical Education Philosophy 

At Simmons, we recognize that clinical education is an integral component of a student’s physical therapy education. Clinical education experiences are designed to provide students with opportunities for professional role modeling, observation, patient care, and teaching in a wide variety of settings. Clinical experiences are planned to coincide with coursework and the students' level of experience. As students progress through the clinical education program they will manage increasingly complex patients with an increased level of independence.

Preparation for Clinical Experiences 

Developing Professional Behaviors

Assessment and development of professional behaviors for physical therapists begins with students’ first semester in the DPT program. Using an Abilities-Based Assessment, we facilitate self-assessment by the student, faculty assessment, and develop individualized plans for student improvement. Tutorial assessments and practical examinations each include a component on professional behaviors, based upon the Abilities Based criteria. 

Integrated Clinical Experiences (ICEs)

Integrated Clinical Experiences coincide with the system-based coursework throughout the curriculum. The experiences provide students with opportunities for clinical observation and developing skills in working with patients throughout the lifespan and in a variety of settings along the continuum of care.

  • First fall semester: Students begin their introduction and socialization to the clinical with a focus on acute illness and patients with cardiovascular and pulmonary impairments. 
  • First spring and summer semesters: Students focus on developing skills in management of patients with primarily musculoskeletal impairments. 
  • Second year: Students complete a twelve week full-time clinical experience and then ICEs resume in the spring and summer of their second year with a focus on patients with neuromuscular impairments and pediatrics. 
  • Final fall semester: Students work with practitioners who incorporate manipulation or specialty practice into their patient interventions. These experiences are subject to clinic availability. 

Full Time Clinical Experiences (FCEs)

Students complete three full-time clinical learning experiences within the three years of study. Students are evaluated utilizing the APTA’s Online Clinical Performance Instrument (CPI) while on clinical learning experiences. 

  • The first full-time clinical experience (PT 674) takes place in the second year after students have completed one year of classroom preparation. The experience is 12 weeks in length and provides an opportunity for students to effectively manage noncomplex patients, and increasingly more complex cases as the experience progresses.
  • Students return to campus to complete their final year of academic preparation, and then begin their terminal clinical experiences (PT 775 and PT 776) both of which are 12 weeks in length. 
  • After the completion of PT 776, students return to Simmons for graduation. Students may participate in Simmons University Commencement ceremony and receive their diploma in May.