Clinical Education Program

  • Each clinical experience is designed to provide the students with an opportunity to practically apply and use the knowledge and skills acquired in a specific area of the academic program. In addition to increasing their level of expertise in the evaluation and treatment of patients with varying diagnoses appropriate to the course work. The student's performance will be compared to prognosticated performance levels, across all three years of the DPT program, set by the faculty. The aim of the clinical education program is that each student will meet and exceed the performance level expected of an entry-level physical therapist during the third-year of the DPT program. The performance of the DPT student will be judged based on several clinical decision-making skills, hands-on performance, and professional behaviors using the Clinical Performance Instrument (CPI).

    These are the first-year students. Each will complete a 2-week practicum in the middle of their second semester and a 6-week summer affiliation at the end of their first-year (see "Clinical Education Experiences").

    They have completed coursework in: Evidence for Physical Therapist Practice I, Cellular & Systems Physiology, Musculoskeletal Anatomy (gross anatomy), Basics of Patient Management, Life Span Motor Control, Mechanics of Gait, Principles of Disease, Therapeutic Exercise, Analytical Anatomy (gross anatomy), Evidence for Physical Therapist Practice II,  Disorders of Musculoskeletal System, Clinical Management of Musculoskeletal Dysfunction, Therapeutic Application of Physical Agents, Clinical Biomechanics, and Special Topics in Therapeutic Exercise.

    DPT-I's are prepared to evaluate and treat general medical and musculoskeletal disorders. As a result, students are assigned to clinical education centers where they will work with numerous general medicine and orthopedic patients.

    These are second-year students. Each will complete a 2-week practicum in the middle of the first semester of the second year, a 2-week practicum in the second semester of the second year, and a 6-week summer affiliation, prior to returning for their summer course work to complete the second year.

    They have completed most of their required didactic courses. The second year curriculum includes: Neuroanatomy, Pathology of Cardiovascular, Pulmonary, and Medical Conditions, Clinical Pharmacology, Clinical Exercise Physiology, Clinical Management of Cardiovascular, Pulmonary, and Medical Conditions, Evidence for Physical Therapist Practice III, Neuropathology, Fundamental of Neuroscience, Clinical Management of Neurologic Dysfunction, Clinical Electrophysiology, Evidence for Physical Therapist Practice IV and V, Clinical Imaging, and Differential Diagnosis in Physical Therapy.

    In addition to management of the patient with orthopedic dysfunction, the second-year student should now also be prepared to evaluate and treat patients across the lifespan with multiple medical issues, cardiopulmonary and neurologic dysfunctions across the settings. (e.g. out-patient, acute care, acute rehab.)

    These are third-year students. Their third-year will primarily include two 16-week extended clerkships, one each in Full-time and Part-time settings. In addition, they will take Integrated Patient Management Seminars.

    The purpose of the extended Clerkships is to give students the opportunity to manage a full caseload over an extended period of time. Consequently, the concentration focuses on improvement of manual skills, clinical reasoning, pattern recognition, differential diagnose, prognosticating, development of plan of care, goal setting, inter-professional communication, and comprehensive patient management.

    After successful completion of their academic and clinical requirements, the students will be awarded a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree.

    Student Requirements

    • Students must attain a cumulative GPA of 2.75 or higher at the end of any academic year in order to participate in the clinical education program. If a student achieves a cumulative 2.75 GPA, but, he/she receives a final grade of "D" in a clinical procedure course, then the student must repeat the course and receive at least a "C" grade prior to continuation in the clinical education program.
    • Students must have a physical examination that includes appropriate immunizations and titers prior to entering the program.
    • Students must have bi-annual tuberculosis clearances while in the program.
    • Students must subscribe annually to Professional Liability Insurance available through the USC Risk Management Division.
    • Students must be covered by major medical insurance while in the program.
    • Students must have a current certification from the American Heart Association in Basic Cardiac Life Support for the Healthcare Provider (CPR) while in the program.
    • In order to receive a grade of "CREDIT" for any clinical education experience, students must meet the requirements for that experience and complete and turn in all required paperwork WITHIN ONE (1) WEEK after completion of the clinical experience.

    Clinical Placements
    Specific placements are dependent on numerous variables and constraints, including geographical location and available student housing, transportation issues, student choice/area of interest, facility availability, faculty recommendations, etc…. While specific student requests for sites and rotation schedules are strongly considered, they cannot always be accommodated. Special facility needs are always considered, but not guaranteed.