Clinical Education for Students

Student in physio lab

Student Requirements

Students must meet the following requirements in order to participate in the clinical education program:

  • Successful completion of all previous course work with a passing grade including all practical exams, standardized patient examinations and comprehensive examination (prior to full-time internships)
  • Professional comportment as deemed appropriate by the faculty
  • Safe, legal and ethical performance in all didactic and clinical experiences
  • Completion of an annual physical examination
  • Completion of an annual PPD or documentation of a negative chest X-ray (if there is a history of positive PPD)
  • Documentation of appropriate immunizations for MMR, Varicella, and Hepatitis B or laboratory proof of immunity (titers)
  • Meningitis vaccine or signed declination form (if under 26)
  • Documentation of Tdap vaccination within the last 10 years as an adult
  • Completion of a Criminal Background Check and Drug Screen through the university vendor prior to the start of the program
  • Documentation of a current certification from the American Heart Association in Basic Life Support (BLS) for Healthcare Provider (CPR) while in the program
  • Documentation of current health insurance that meets university requirements
  • Completion of annual university HIPAA training modules

These are common requirements for direct patient care at many health care facilities that provide clinical experiences for GW physical therapy students. However, there are still clinical sites that require additional health testing including annual flu vaccination and updated criminal background checks and/or drug screens prior to clinical experiences which are needed once the student is immersed in the DPT curriculum.

First Year DPT Students

In their second semester, students will complete part-time Integrated Clinical Experience (ICE) I. Prior to ICE I, students must successfully complete all coursework in the first semester. Students at this level are able to apply foundational examination and intervention techniques including patient interviewing, chart reviews, vital signs, screening, goniometry, manual muscle testing, transfers, gait training, basic exercise prescription and application of physical agents. As they progress, they are expected to become increasingly engaged in clinical decision-making and all aspects of clinical care under consistent and close supervision. After completion of ICE I, students will achieve, at minimum, a level of beginner competence in the clinical setting.

Second Year DPT Students

Students at this level are concurrently enrolled in clinical management courses and in their fourth semester complete part-time Integrated Clinical Experience (ICE) II.  Students continue to develop their foundational skills in the clinic environment but have increased abilities to actively participate in clinical reasoning and plan of care development. At the conclusion of the fourth semester and ICE II, students have approximately 80 hours of supervised clinical practice and will achieve, at minimum, advanced beginner competence in the clinical setting.

Toward the end of the second year and prior to starting full-time clinical internships, students will have completed all clinical coursework including a written, comprehensive examination. After successful management and completion of these courses and the exam, students start their first of three full-time clinical internship, Clinical Internship I. Internship I is an 8-week full-time clinical experience which provides the students opportunities to experience the full depth and breadth of physical therapy practice. After completion of Internship I, students will achieve, at minimum, intermediate to advanced intermediate competence in the clinical setting.

Third Year DPT Students

In their third year, students will continue their clinical education coursework as they complete their final two full-time clinical internships: Internship II (12 weeks) and Internship III (14 weeks.) Prior to starting these full-time clinical internships, students will have completed all didactic and clinical coursework including a written comprehensive examination, two part-time ICEs and Internship I (8 weeks). The full-time, capstone internships provide students with opportunities to experience the full depth and breadth of physical therapy practice. The selected internships require students to participate in safe, effective, and professional clinical care in a variety of settings and with patients and caregivers from a variety of cultural backgrounds throughout the lifespan. Students must demonstrate competence in addressing clinical issues along with wellness and prevention throughout the rehabilitation process.

In addition to developing increased competence with clinical decision-making and direct patient care, the internship experiences facilitate the development of entry level performance in the broader roles and responsibilities of physical therapy practitioners: patient care team members, advocates, consultants, teachers, researchers, managers, and leaders. At the conclusion of Internship III, students will have approximately 1440 hours of supervised clinical experience and are expected to perform at/above “Entry Level” in patient management, professional management and practice management paradigms.