Doctor of Physical Therapy: Clinical Education

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The Graceland University DPT Clinical Education curriculum offers a variety of clinical education experiences across the United States. Three full-time rotations of increasing duration (8 weeks, 10 weeks, 14 weeks) occur in the second year of the DPT program. Students will apply their skills and knowledge under the supervision of a licensed physical therapist over the course of 32 weeks, in a variety of clinical practice settings across the lifespan and continuum of care.

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Clinical Education Courses

During the 2nd year in the Graceland University DPT program, the curriculum contains three clinical education courses with increasing length to assist with application and understanding in the clinical setting: DPTP 8701, 9702, and 9703. Students may also choose to combine the final two courses, DPTP 9702 and 9703, into one 24-week experience. To ensure entry-level competencies as DPT generalists, students are required to complete the full-time clinical experiences with a minimum of one outpatient and one inpatient experience. The student may choose the third clinical setting.

DPTP 8701, the first clinical education experience, starts at the beginning of the 2nd year in the GU DPT program. Students have completed all foundational coursework prior to participating in this experience. Clinical placements may include outpatient orthopedic, inpatient acute care, post-acute, long-term rehabilitation, or other non-advanced clinical sites.

DPTP 9702 and 9703 occur after all foundational and management coursework have been completed. Students will complete DPTP 9702 as a 10-week experience followed by DPTP 9703 as a 14-week experience, or they may combine these courses into one, 24-week terminal experience. There are no restrictions on what type of setting students may participate in during these courses.

Clinical Education Placement

Students will have the opportunity to rank-order their preference for clinical education experiences. The clinical education team will do their best to limit travel, but students should anticipate participating in 1 or more experiences that are not within driving distance of their home. Travel and housing are at the expense of the student and are not included in the DPT Program tuition.

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Students must submit proof of a physical examination and updated immunization information prior to entering the Graceland University DPT program. The DPT program has additional immunization requirements for clinical education experiences. Health and immunization forms are to be completed and signed by a licensed healthcare provider. Health requirements are further outlined in the DPT student handbook as well as listed below.

  • Physical Exam completed by medical health professional
  • MMR (Measles, Mumps. Rubella) Vaccine
    • 2 documented vaccinations
    • OR (+) positive titer for all 3 components (Measles, Mumps, AND Rubella)
  • HBV (Hepatitis B) Vaccine
    • 3 documented vaccinations
    • AND (+) positive Hepatitis B Surface Antibody
  • Tetanus/Diphtheria/Pertussis Vaccine (Tdap)
    • Tdap booster within last 10 years; must include Pertussis
    • Td not accepted
  • Varivax (Varicella) Vaccine
    • 2 documented vaccinations
    • OR proof of (+) positive titer for Varicella
  • Flu Vaccine
    • Documented flu vaccination for current flu season (annual requirement)
  • COVID-19 Vaccine (strongly recommended as many clinical sites require it)
    • Documented 2 vaccinations for Moderna and Pfizer and 1 does for J&J and/or boosters
  • TST – TB skin test (PPD) within one year of admission
    • 2-step PPD Negative
    • OR negative TB – QuantiFERON
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Criminal Background Checks and Drug Testing

Criminal background checks and drug testing are becoming mandatory at medical institutions as a requirement of the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO). Individuals working in health care facilities often must consent to and be cleared to work through criminal background investigations and/or drug screenings. This is also a common policy/requirement in many physical therapy corporate entities and individual clinics.

The Graceland University DPT Program requires all students to complete a criminal background check prior to formal enrollment or matriculation in the DPT program. An additional background check and/or drug test may be required prior to beginning clinical education experiences in year two of the program. Applicants should be aware that a prior criminal background could restrict their ability to be placed at a clinical site and/or obtain professional state licensure. Acceptance into the DPT program does not imply or guarantee that a student will be able to obtain such placement or licensure.

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