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Clinical Education

The mission of physical therapist clinical education is to educate learners who, through structured and varied experiences of sufficient excellence and breadth and the application of essential knowledge, skills, and behaviors under the supervision of competent clinical educators, become competent entry-level practitioners.

Source: American Physical Therapy Association: Consensus Conference on Clinical Education, 1994.

Clinical Education Experiences

The professional clinical entry-level program admits ~50 students in July of each year into a 2.5 year curriculum which includes 35 weeks of full time clinical education experience.  There are five (5) scheduled full time clinical experiences. The first is a 6-week clinical experience in the summer between year 1 and year 2. This is a hospital based inpatient experience. During year 2 there is a 2-week clinical experience at the start of the spring semester. Then following year 2 there are three different 9-week clinical experiences totaling 27 weeks. Clinical education experiences are completed in physical therapy settings in the United States with whom The University of Iowa has contracts. These are arranged by the education program's Clinical Education Coordinators with significant input from department faculty and students. The clinical education experiences begin in mid to late May and end in mid December.  In addition to the 35 weeks of full time clinical education experiences, students have scheduled clinical experiences integrated into their schedules beginning Semester 1.  These integrated experiences are half day or day-long experiences every other week for each student. 

The goals of the clinical education experiences are:

  • Develop and demonstrate entry-level competence in patient care activities.
  • Opportunity to develop special interest area in patient care.
  • Exhibit appropriate professional conduct and represent the profession of physical therapy effectively.
  • Demonstrate a commitment to continued learning.