Physical Therapy - Experiential Learning and Service to the Community

As a DPT student at USciences, you’ll find special opportunities to learn on every level and in many different environments—not just in the classroom.  You’ll work in the field, where you’ll do things that prepare you for the real world. You’ll work with patients in real clinic settings and have the opportunity to pursue research with faculty. Our DPT program is about more than a degree--it's about experiences that prepare you for a fulfilling career in physical therapy.

Interprofessional Education

Optimal patient outcomes occur when healthcare professionals work together.  Qualities of an effective health care team include; excellent communication skills, collaboration, knowledge of the expertise of each professional, and placing the patient at the center of the experience. Students of all healthcare professions need to learn these skills in the classroom and then apply them in the clinic.  In the USciences Doctor of Physical Therapy program, students are introduced to the tenants of interprofessional healthcare in a course that includes students in physical therapy, occupational therapy, physician assistant, and pharmacy.  This course provides the foundational work in interprofessional care that is built upon throughout the rest of the curriculum.

Students put their interprofessional skills to work in a collaborative clinic with medical students from the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM).  Students are supervised by PT faculty from USciences and Doctor of Osteopathy faculty from PCOM while they evaluate patients with a variety of medical conditions.  This unique interprofessional clinic exposes students to the skills that other professions bring to patient care to enhance outcomes.

The Pro Bono Physical Therapy Clinic

Launched in 2002 as a partnership among University of the Sciences, Mercy Health System and the City of Philadelphia, the Pro Bono Physical Therapy Clinic provides underserved residents of Southwest and West Philadelphia with access to physical therapy services while giving students a unique context in which to learn. Through integrated clinical experiences, students benefit from faculty mentorship as well as peer mentorship from DPT students further along in the program.  

Participation in the clinic—working hands-on with patients in a real-world environment—helps bolster your self-confidence and decision-making skills. Faculty members derive a greater sense of their role as professionals in addressing society’s needs. After student and faculty recognition of its importance, the Pro Bono Clinic was permanently added to the physical therapy curriculum. Since its inception, the clinic has provided care to more than 800 uninsured patients and countless invaluable experiences to students and faculty alike.

Integrated Clinical Experiences

Weaved throughout the curriculum, integrated clinical experiences offer students the opportunity to interact with patients.  Students work side by side with healthy community members, as well as those with health conditions, to practice communication as well as examination and intervention skills.  Examples include: Evaluating well elders for balance deficits, evaluating patients with stroke, observing physical therapists in rehabilitation settings, observing PTs working with amputees, and more.

Full Time Clinical Experiences

Clinical education is a vital component of USciences’ physical therapy program. Under the supervision of a clinical instructor who is a licensed physical therapist, you integrate knowledge, skills, and professional development in the field during full-time clinical education experiences. You will begin with an eight-week first full-time clinical education experience after a shortened fall semester during the second year of the professional program. There are two additional eight-week intermediate full-time clinical education experiences during the summer between the second and third year of the professional program.  Your terminal full-time clinical education experience, occurs between shortened fall and spring semesters of the third year, lasting for sixteen weeks. Altogether, there are 4 experiences and 40 weeks of clinical education during the professional phase of the physical therapy program.  We encourage students to travel outside the Philadelphia area for clinical experiences to have broad exposure to a variety of learning opportunities.  University of the Sciences has contracts with hundreds of facilities nationwide, including:

  • Acute Care hospitals
  • Inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation centers
  • Skilled nursing facilities,  sub-acute rehabilitation centers and nursing homes
  • Outpatient offices that may offer specialties such as women’s health, sports medicine, work hardening and neurological rehabilitation
  • Pediatrics - school based and early intervention
  • Occupational medicine
  • Home health care

University of the Sciences is an approved participating institution of the State Authorization Reciprocity Act (SARA).  Full description of SARA and the implications for licensure.