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Clinical Education

Philosophy of Clinical Education 

University of Dayton is dedicated to providing quality clinical education in a variety of clinical settings both locally and throughout the United States.  Approximately one-third of the entire three-year doctoral level program is performed in the clinical setting.  An objective of the Physical Therapy program is to prepare students for their clinical rotations above and beyond the “norm” for student performance.  The problem-based format of education greatly enhances the students’ ability to problem solve, apply critical information to each unique patient situation, and to “think on their feet” as they move from case to case.  Problem-based cases demand students go well beyond diagnoses to address the whole of each person in the Catholic and Marianist spirit of service within our community.  Another important feature of the curriculum is to prepare the students didactically for each broad area of physical therapy practice,  and then follow up these classroom experiences with a clinical placement that “matches” that area of practice.  Although it is not always possible to make a “match” with 100% accuracy, every attempt is made.  A “match” is defined as a clinical site providing students with at least a 50% caseload of the clinical rotation patient population of focus.  An overview of clinical rotations is as follows:


  • General Medicine (7 weeks):This rotation takes place in a setting where patients are more medically complex. Examples of settings that work well for this rotation are inpatient acute care, skilled nursing, long term care, home health, and inpatient rehabilitation. Outpatient settings can work well when the clinical instructor plans the student’s caseload to include patients who require medical monitoring or those with comorbidities.


  • Neuro/Rehab (8 weeks): This rotation can be performed in an inpatient or outpatient setting with an emphasis on a neurologic patient population.  Some pediatric settings are also appropriate at this level of the curriculum and can include settings with medically complex patients, children with developmental delay, or in school-based environments.


  • Orthopedic (12 weeks): This rotation is generally performed in an outpatient orthopedic or sports medicine environment.  Options include hospital-based outpatient experiences, private practices, or may include opportunities with sports teams.


  • Elective (12 weeks): Unless a student has a specific need (i.e., they require more exposure to a certain population), this rotation allows a student to further develop in an area of their choosing.  This can include any of the previous settings but other options are available as well.  Decisions are made in cooperation with the DCE.

Department of Physical Therapy

Fitz Hall
300 College Park
Dayton, Ohio 45469 - 2925