Don’t just study it – experience it!
At the Institute for Physical Therapy Education, all of our faculty are physical therapists and we all engage in active clinical practice and consultation as well as clinical research. This provides an environment that is dynamic and rich in practical, hands-on experiences. Students in the entry-level DPT program have a variety of opportunities available to them as they progress through the professional curriculum.
Our clinical courses include both didactic and laboratory instruction. While students and faculty work to take on the role of the patient or client for hands-on practice, the program also feels it is important to gain real experience with patients and clients prior to engaging in the professional practice courses. Individuals with a variety of health conditions are “clinical consultants” during lab experiences as they interact with students practicing examination and intervention skills.
Site Visits to Local Clinics
Prior to entering the program, all students will have gained some exposure to the profession through volunteer or paid work experiences. To help broaden their perspectives, several courses provide visits to local clinics to interact with physical therapists in practice. These visits can be observational or include hands-on with patients – either way the goal is to provide guided exposure to the field as a support to what is being learned and practiced in the classroom.
Chester Community Physical Therapy Clinic
Students working in our Chester Community Physical Therapy Clinic gain first-hand knowledge of how to manage, finance, and support a physical therapy clinic while providing an important service to the community. Involvement on the clinic’s student board is a great way to enhance leadership and collaborative abilities. Volunteering in the clinic provides yet another opportunity to practice physical therapy examination and intervention skills under the supervision of a licensed therapist. Widener's student-run and student-led pro bono clinic is one of the few in the nation that claims 100% student participation. The Widener student board model has been replicated in more than 22 other student-run pro bono clinics across the nation.
Clinical Practice Experiences
The DPT curriculum includes a clinical practice course sequence in which students complete one part-time and three full-time clinical experiences throughout the three-year program. To aid in developing their abilities as a generalist prepared for contemporary practice, all students will engage in experiences that will expose them to inpatient and outpatient settings and individuals with a variety of health conditions. With each of the four clinical practice courses, the expectations are elevated so that students are ready for entry-level practice before graduation.