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DPT Clinical Education Overview

Clinical education is a critical component of the Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) curriculum at Tufts University School of Medicine. It supports our student-centered mission by identifying and aligning students’ professional goals with their clinical education plan and encourages future opportunities through the development of relationships with clinical sites within settings appropriate to student’s interests. Through innovative educational and clinical learning experiences, the clinical education curriculum advances the program’s goals of developing future Doctors of Physical Therapy that are 1) career-focused; 2) demonstrate mindful practice and interprofessional skills competencies to positively impact the human experience; and 3) demonstrate a commitment to critical inquiry and excellence in both academic and clinical preparation, consistent with the professional scope of physical therapy practice.

Clinical education provides students with exposure to a variety of physical therapy practice settings that provide care to patients through the life spectrum. These full-time experiences take place during the second year of study and immerse students into clinical settings as they learn to function as a Doctor of Physical Therapy. Clinical education experiences provide students the opportunity to apply their knowledge and skills to clinical situations under the direct supervision and guidance of experienced physical therapist clinicians. In clinical learning environments, students develop safe and effective skills in all aspects of patient care while also developing the ability to work as an integral part of the interprofessional healthcare team.

Clinical Education Curriculum

Students complete 31 weeks of full-time clinical education, comprised of two, eight-week experiences and a 15-week specialty-focused experience.

DPT 0761 Physical Therapy Practice I is an integrated 8-week clinical experience conducted in the 4th academic semester. Students complete all foundational patient management coursework prior to DPT 0761 and are fully prepared to treat patients with musculoskeletal, neurologic, and cardiopulmonary dysfunctions in a variety of settings. Students complete the DPT 0770 Management of Complex Patients course concurrently with this clinical experience to closely integrate didactic and clinical education experiences.

DPT 0821 Physical Therapy Practice II is a terminal 8-week clinical experience in the 5th academic semester. Clinical placement may be in an inpatient (acute care, post-acute, inpatient rehabilitation) or outpatient (hospital-based or private practice) practice settings that provide students with exposure to a variety of patient conditions across the lifespan.

DPT 0831 Physical Therapy Practice III is a terminal 15-week clinical experience in the 6th academic semester. The focus of clinical placements during this rotation is to prepare students for market-readiness in entry-level clinical practice and to align with their post-professional goals. Students with an orthopaedic or sports physical therapy concentration may choose to combine their final two clinical education courses into a 23-week terminal internship in a general outpatient clinic.

What makes our clinical education program different?

  1. Integrated Curriculum: Didactic courses taken concurrently during clinical education allow students to bring the classroom into the clinic, and the clinic into the classroom. Students directly apply the concepts learned in these didactic courses to their patients and then share these clinical experiences with their class during case-based discussions and assignments.
  2. Interprofessional Education: Tufts University School of Medicine’s Doctor of Physical Therapy program offers all students opportunities to develop core competencies for interprofessional collaborative practice with different professions.
  3. Career-Focused: A terminal internship experience in a specialty concentration allows the opportunity to align a student’s clinical education with their professional practice goals. These terminal experiences fully prepare students for post-professional residency opportunities and/or entry-level practice in a clinical practice setting of their choosing.
  4. Clinical faculty: Clinical faculty are an integral part of our clinical experiences for students, and so we invest in those faculty by offering them access to library resources as well as the opportunity to structure your clinical hands-on experiences to complement your online curriculum. Many of your clinical faculty are specialists in their field, have completed residency or fellowship training, and are chosen for their expertise and eagerness to work with students.

Clinical education is a critical component to any physical therapy education program. At Tufts DPT we are committed to in preparing our graduates for successful entry into the profession of physical therapy. We provide high quality clinical education with placements all over the country, in a wide variety of settings to meet their post-professional goals.

Click here for more information regarding the accreditation status of Tufts DPT program.