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Academics

Clinical Education

Statement of Purpose of Clinical Education

The purpose of the Clinical Education curriculum is to provide the learner with structured interactions with persons of varying degrees of health status and disability. The Clinical Education experiences bridge the knowledge and psychomotor skills learned in the academic setting to the real-life clinical setting. The clinical site educators and academic faculty design these interactions with progressively decreasing supervision in order to complete the students’ emergence as competent entry-level practitioners. There is a Clinical Education Policy and Procedure Manual to assist all stakeholders with having the best possible encounter in any Clinical Education experience.

Overview of the Clinical Education Experience

The Clinical Education curriculum includes 4 phases of supervised clinical experiences, progressive in the type and range of clinical responsibilities expected of the students.  They correspond to the complexity of the didactic portion of the DPT curriculum. Participation in any Clinical Education experience is contingent upon successful completion of the coursework and previous Clinical Education experiences. Students are supervised by Clinical Instructors, licensed physical therapists with at least one year of clinical experience, in such settings as hospitals, long-term care facilities, home health agencies, rehabilitation facilities, pediatric clinics, sports medicine clinics, fitness centers, and outpatient facilities. Students participate in interprofessional collaborative activities throughout the Clinical Education experiences.

Evaluation of Clinical Performance

Clinical Instructors are encouraged to provide feedback frequently to the students and to the Directors of Clinical Education. Formal, written evaluations are scheduled at the mid-term and at the conclusion of each Clinical Education experience. Each student and Clinical Instructor must complete the free online training associated with using the Physical Therapist Clinical Performance Instrument (PT CPI) on the PT CPI Web 2.0 home page under the Online Help Center section.   Following review of the training modules, new users must complete the APTA Post-Test Assessment through the APTA Learning Center.  This training only needs to be completed once.

Physical Therapist Clinical Performance Instrument (CPI Web 2.0)

A physical therapist student assessment system evaluates knowledge, skills, and attitudes, and it incorporates multiple sources of information to make decisions about readiness to practice. The system is intended to enable clinical site educators and academic faculty to obtain a comprehensive perspective of students’ progress through the curriculum and competence to practice at entry-level. The utilization of the PT CPI can provide evidence that all students entering into professional practice have demonstrated a core set of clinical attributes.

The PT CPI serves as the central component of the evaluation of WU students’ clinical abilities, and it is used by the program to ensure students’ readiness for professional practice. The PT CPI is designed to evaluate student clinical performance in relation to entry-level competence and is to be completed by the supervising Clinical Instructor(s).

Sequence into Curriculum

The Clinical Education experiences begin in the fourth term of the Physical Therapy program. Each succeeding experience encompasses increased use of student skills learned with progressive responsibility for patient care placed on the student while supervised by the Clinical Instructor. The progressive sequence of the Clinical Education experiences is provided below. The students will complete the Clinical Education experience in the outlined order.

Each Clinical Education experience is full-time and consists of a designated number of weeks. The clinical site establishes the working days and hours. Skills learned in preceding terms are practiced under the supervision of a Clinical Instructor.


Student Clinical Education Schedule – DPT Curriculum

Term IV: Summer 
CE I (8 weeks) 

Term VI: Spring 
CE II (8 weeks) 

Term VIII: Fall 
CE III (10 weeks) 
CE IV (10 weeks)


CE I DPT 638: 

This is the first full-time Clinical Education experience within the curriculum. The students participate in 8 weeks of full-time clinical experience for a total of 320 hours during Term IV. This experience can be in the acute care, skilled care, long term care, long term acute care, home health, or out-patient settings. The Problem-Based Learning cases that have been introduced into the curriculum up to this point can be found in the Clinical Education course syllabus. The focus of this experience will be on the examination, evaluation, diagnosis, prognosis, intervention, and outcomes for patients with a variety of impairments leading to activity and participation limitations in their respective settings. The student should demonstrate Advanced-Beginner/Intermediate clinical performance on the PT CPI evaluation at the completion of this Clinical Education experience.

CE II DPT 658:

This is the second full time Clinical Education experience within the curriculum. The students participate in 8 weeks of full-time clinical experience for a total of 320 hours during Term VI. This experience can be in the acute care, skilled care, long term care, long term acute care, home health, or out-patient settings. The Problem-Based Learning cases that have been introduced into the curriculum up to this point can be found in the Clinical Education course syllabus. The focus of this experience will be to advance the skills learned and practiced up to this point in the DPT program. The students should require less supervision and show an increase their case load. The students should be more confident with their affective and psychomotor skills. The student should demonstrate Intermediate/Advanced Intermediate clinical performance on the PT CPI evaluation at the completion of this Clinical Education experience.

CE III DPT 668a:

This is the third full time Clinical Education experience within the curriculum. The students have completed all the didactic coursework at this point. The students participate in 10 weeks of full-time clinical experience for a total of 400 hours during Term VIII. This experience can be in the acute care, skilled care, long term care, long term acute care, home health, out-patient, pediatric, rehabilitation, manual therapy, sports medicine, or other specialty settings. All Problem-Based Learning cases have been introduced into the curriculum at this point and can be found in the Clinical Education course syllabus. The focus of this experience will be to advance the skills learned and practiced up to this point in the DPT program. The student should be capable of functioning without guidance or clinical supervision, be capable of maintaining 100% of a full-time physical therapist’s caseload, and demonstrate entry-level clinical performance. The student should be confident with his/her affective and psychomotor skills. The student should demonstrate Entry-Level clinical performance on the PT CPI evaluation at the completion of this Clinical Education experience.

CE IV DPT 668b:

This is the fourth and final full-time Clinical Education experience within the curriculum. The students will have successfully completed all of their didactic coursework at this point. The students participate in 10 weeks of full-time clinical experience for a total of 400 hours during Term VIII. This experience can be in the acute care, skilled care, long term care, long term acute care, home health, out-patient, pediatric, rehabilitation, manual therapy, sports medicine, or other specialty settings. All Problem-Based Learning cases have been introduced into the curriculum at this point and can be found in the Clinical Education course syllabus. The focus of this experience will be to advance the skills learned and practiced up to this point in the DPT program. The student should be capable of functioning without guidance or clinical supervision, be capable of maintaining 100% of a full-time physical therapist’s caseload, and demonstrate entry-level clinical performance. The student should be confident with his/her affective and psychomotor skills. The student should demonstrate Entry-Level clinical performance on the PT CPI evaluation at the completion of this Clinical Education experience. The student should be capable of autonomous practice at the completion of all components of the Clinical Education curriculum.

Clinical Education Requirements

Throughout all students’ tenure in the program, they are required to complete 4 Clinical Education experiences in a sequential order covering a variety of settings, including 1 in acute care, 1 in outpatient, and 2 of the students’ choice. For the Clinical Education experiences that are of the students’ choice, a student can repeat a setting and/or complete an experience in a skilled care facility setting or in a clinic with a specialty setting such as women’s health, sports medicine, pediatrics, neurological rehabilitation, oncology, or the military.

All students are expected to travel outside of the Wheeling area (60-mile radius) for at least 1 Clinical Education experience. The students may work with the Directors of Clinical Education and Site Coordinators for Clinical Education to make living arrangements, but this is ultimately the students’ responsibility. To advance through the Clinical Education experience, the students must demonstrate successful completion of all prior coursework and program requirements.

All students have the opportunity to submit their Wish Lists for each Clinical Education experience from a list of available slot offers. The Directors of Clinical Education encourage all students to discuss with them the preferences on the Wish Lists in relation to the students’ Clinical Education goals and to meet a variety of settings and clientele/patients across the lifespan.  The Wish Lists do not guarantee placement. All student placements for each Clinical Education experience occur during a live lottery in which all students choose a slot offer for the respective experience.  The educational needs of all students are always first priority.

The Directors of Clinical Education will handle all student slot offer requests and will explore the appropriateness and the feasibility of those requests. Students are not permitted to seek clinical site placements on their own, and other individuals should not solicit slot offer requests on behalf of the students.  Students will not be assigned to a site in these types of situations: a site where they have worked as a volunteer or employee; a site where they have a pre-employment contract or financial agreement (scholarship); a site where a direct relative or significant other is employed in the physical therapy department.