Clinical Education

PT Students Discuss
Clinical Rotations

2:19 mins.
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Doctor of Physical Therapy students embark upon an amazing journey of both personal and professional growth when they begin their clinical education. These experiences are interspersed throughout the program and are key in applying the knowledge obtained in the classroom to real patients under the direct supervision and mentoring of a licensed physical therapist in a clinical setting. In collaboration with the DCE, students are evaluated by their Clinical Instructor on their professional knowledge, skills and attitudes. Students will learn and work with physical therapist/mentors and patients/clients in:

  • major medical centers
  • community hospitals
  • community-based health centers
  • rehabilitation hospitals and agencies
  • home health
  • school-based clinics
  • private practices


The program includes a part-time clinical experience in the first year and 34 weeks of full-time clinical education. Arcadia has developed more than 250 clinical relationships with a wide variety of top-flight local, regional, national and international facilities. The majority of sites are in the mid-Atlantic region. Many students are offered their first jobs through the relationships they develop during these experiences.

Part Time Clinical Experience

Clinical Education 2

Students observe and assist the physical therapists in the University of Pennsylvania Health System, Mercy Health System, and the MossRehab system half days for a total of 10 visits over the first year. The experience consists of alternating weeks in the clinic with weeks of small group explorational reflection on campus. The primary purposes of this initial experience are to introduce students to physical therapist practice in both inpatient and outpatient settings, to mentor students in professional behaviors, and to integrate classroom knowledge and clinical experience.

Full-time Clinical Experiences

Full-time clinical education begins in the fall of Year 2, with an 8-week clinical education experience. Students are responsible for the additional costs of travel and housing associated with their clinical experiences. Through these weeks, students develop into professionals and can begin to deliver effective physical therapy services. Clinical assignments are made in consultation with the DCE and clinical facilities for a placement that is ideally suited to the strengths and interests of the student.

Upon completion of the second academic year, students will begin their culminating clinical experience. This final clinical assignment, which lasts for 26 weeks, is a hybrid between traditional clinical education and the residency model of clinical training that is rich in mentoring and structured learning experiences to facilitate accelerated learning. Clinics affiliated with this program are among a select group with strong relationships to our program and the patient-centered curriculum.

Clinical Education Abroad

Natalie and Leslie in London

Second-year D.P.T. students can take advantage of the opportunity to spend the first eight weeks of the final clinical experience in London. The application process begins in the preceding summer, and physical therapy opportunities may be sought in amputee rehabilitation and acute care settings. View Clinical Education in London video.
Expenses above and beyond the normal semester tuition exist. Interested students need to contact Susan S. Tomlinson, Director of Clinical Education, well in advance to initiate the process, as these spots are not always available. This experience is coordinated between the Physical Therapy Department and Arcadia’s The College of Global Studies.

Additional Requirements

Increasingly, clinical sites have additional requirements including but not limited to criminal background checks, child abuse clearances, and drug screens. It is likely that a student will be required to submit to these tests and may be financially responsible for these in order to fulfill the clinical education portion of the curriculum. An applicant with a felony or misdemeanor conviction or a student who does not pass a required screening may not be able to fulfill requirements for graduation and/or be licensed as a physical therapist.


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