Clinical education is an essential part of your training to become a physical therapist. Besides allowing you to apply what you’ve learned to actual patient care experiences, it also gives you the opportunity to explore different physical therapy specialties and settings.
UW DPT students participate in a 4-week internship at the end of their first year and in three 11-week full-time internships during their third year, after they’ve completed the entire academic curriculum.
For internships, the DPT program has affiliation agreements with more than 400 clinical sites across the United States, including Alaska and Hawaii. Most sites are in the Pacific Northwest. Students can get experience in urban and rural settings, clinics and hospitals, and with patients across the life span.
According to program policy, students must complete at least one of the 11-week internships outside of the Greater Seattle Metropolitan Area (encompassing Everett to the north, Issaquah to the east, Tacoma to the south and bordered by Puget Sound to the west).
Integrated Clinical Education
Integrated clinical education experiences are designed to complement classroom instruction. For example, in the classroom you’ll evaluate simulated patients (healthy people who’ve been trained to act like patients), and in the UW School of Nursing’s Learning Lab, you’ll also work with simulated patients and/or high-tech mannequins in a simulation of an acute care hospital setting.
During your courses, you’ll participate in patient care experiences at the UW and local health care facilities and outpatient clinics. All students spend one quarter at a teaching clinic, evaluating and treating underserved people, and one quarter in the Spinal Cord Injury Transitions and Wellness Program at UW Medical Center or Harborview Medical Center, where they help patients during exercise sessions.
Some of the integrated clinical education experiences are interdisciplinary in nature, giving you opportunities to work collaboratively with students in occupational therapy, prosthetics and orthotics, speech language pathology and nursing.
Credentialed Clinical Instructor Program
Students are supervised and mentored during their clinical experiences by staff physical therapists who serve as clinical instructors. The UW DPT program strives to train all clinical instructors who work with UW students through the American Physical Therapy Association’s (APTA) Credentialed Clinical Instructor Program, which teaches clinical instructors strategies to effectively design and facilitate PT student learning.
Cyndi Robinson, the UW DPT director of clinical education, is one of just four APTA-credentialed trainers in the state of Washington and has credentialed more than 1,000 clinical instructors in Washington, Oregon and Montana.