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Service Learning

Service learning is a structured learning experience that combines community-based service or research with preparation and reflection. The UW Doctor of Physical Therapy program strives to provide students with a sustainable program of diverse service learning experiences that complement the academic curriculum and meet the specific identified needs of individuals and communities.

The Service Learning Process

DPT students engage in service learning through participation in community-based service or research in response to community-identified concerns. They learn about the context in which the service is provided, the connection between their service and their academic coursework, and their roles as both citizens and professionals. At the end, students evaluate their performance and reflect on the experience. 

Under Washington state law, all service learning experiences must be supervised by a licensed health care professional. 

Service Learning Opportunities

Since 2006, service learning related to fall prevention awareness has been an integral part of the UW DPT program. 

Other service learning experiences currently in development are:

  • Seattle/King County Clinic
  • UW Health Fair in Red Square
  • Athlete screening for the Special Olympics
  • University District Street Medicine (UDSM) teaching clinics in the University District and at the Downtown Emergency Services Center (DESC)

Service Opportunities

UW DPT students also have the opportunity to volunteer their services through a variety of activities available locally, regionally and internationally. 

Local and regional service opportunities include:

  • Fall screening and prevention for elderly individuals in the community
  • Pediatric developmental screening and fitness education at the Latina Health Fair in Seattle
  • Collaborating with community clinicians to provide medical support at local marathons
  • Serving the homeless in Seattle’s University District with University District Street Medicine 

Global Rehabilitation Organization at Washington (GROW)

Students can also provide service through the student organization Global Rehabilitation Organization at Washington, more commonly known as GROW. GROW developed from a shared interest in global health and community outreach among students in the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine. The goal of the group is to inspire rehabilitation professionals to become more engaged in their communities and play a part in building a better world.

nullGROW provides resources and opportunities for students to participate in a variety of local and international service projects under the supervision of UW faculty and licensed therapists from the community. Internatiuonal volunteer programs are available in Peru, Zimbabwe and Guatemala. Locally, GROW members volunteer with activities and groups such as the Falls Prevention Program, the Latina Health Fair and University District Street Medicine.

For more information about GROW, visit the GROW website or email

Department of Rehabilitation Interdisciplinary Student Organization (DRISO)

The Department of Rehabilitation Interdisciplinary Student Organization (DRISO) promotes interdisciplinary and interprofessional collaboration in rehabilitation through the catalyst of student action. This registered student organization provides opportunities for students in physical therapy, occupational therapy, prosthetics and orthotics, speech and hearing sciences, and rehabilitation science to participate in a variety of activities, including service learning, extracurricular educational programs and social engagement from an interdisciplinary perspective. For more information, visit the DRISO website (UW NetID required to access).