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Section II: The Clinical Education Program and Policies

Clinical Education Policies

Role of the Student:

Once assigned to a clinical facility the student responsibilities include:

I.                    Initial Contact

The student is instructed to contact the facility 6-8 weeks prior to the clinical experience. The student should introduce him/herself and request information as needed. This may include housing information, work schedules, special learning experiences (if this has been previously discussed with the ACCE), etc. Students are aware that facilities may be unable to accommodate special learning experiences.

II.                 Work Schedule

The student is instructed to follow the work schedule established by the clinical facility. The student is also reminded that proper etiquette includes recognizing opportunities to help their CI and/or other staff members, and avoiding requests for special schedule accommodations.

Additional opportunities for learning may occur during the evening or weekends, especially in outpatient private practice or sports medicine settings. These activities may be an integral part of the clinical experience, thus the student should be aware of this when he/she selects the clinical facility. The academic institution does not require the student to work on a weekend. However, the facility may require this as part of the clinical practicum.

III.               Attendance

The student is required to be present every day during their clinical experience. There are no personal days allotted. If a student wants to request a personal day off, then he/she notify the CI well in advance, and they must determine how the lost time will be made up.  If a student is sick for one or two days, the CI may determine whether the student should make up the lost days based on the student’s performance. The student and the CI should develop a plan for recouping the lost time if the CI feels this is necessary. In both these circumstances, the lost time may be made up by either extending the student’s hours during the week or by scheduling the student on a weekend. If the student is sick for more than 2 days, then the school should be contacted so that the CI and the ACCE can together formulate a plan for making up the missed time.

IV.              Holidays

If the clinical facility is close for a holiday that occurs during the clinical affiliation, then the student is not expected to make up that day. The student is expected to be present if the facility is open.

V.                 Inclement Weather

If the clinical facility is closed due to inclement weather, the student is encouraged to make up that time or use the time for professional pursuits, such as reading literature related to the clinical setting.  If the CI determines that the student is approaching entry-level performance, the student will not be required to make up the time in the clinical setting. If the CI feels the student needs the days to develop their skills, the student will be required to make up the time. If this occurs during CP I and there is a problem that prevents extending the clinical beyond its end date, the student will be required to add the time to another practicum.

VI.              Tardiness

The student is expected to be punctual.  If the student is unable to be present, the CI is to be notified at least 15 minutes before the scheduled beginning of the workday.

VII.            Dress Code

The Division of Physical Therapy Education recognizes that dress codes may vary widely among clinical facilities. Therefore, the students are expected to abide by the dress code of that facility, rather than one established at the school. However, the following guidelines should apply in any setting:

  • Dress is always expected to be neat and clean, and should be comfortable and non-restrictive.
  • A student nametag is required when in the clinic or when performing related duties.
  • Shoes should be leather and closed toed for student protection. Hosiery or socks should be worn.
  • Jewelry should be kept to a minimum.
  • A watch with a second hand or one that displays the seconds is desired.
  • Hair should be neat and clean and should not interfere with the performance of patient care activities.
  • Conservative make-up is appropriate for the clinic.
  • Perfumes or aftershaves should not be worn, as these may be objectionable to some patients/co-workers.
  • Fingernails should be short and polish should be neutral or clear.

VIII.         Professional Conduct

The students are expected to demonstrate professional behavior at all times. The following behaviors are essential in all clinical settings:

  • It is the student’s responsibility to seek additional information in order to comply with the departmental policies and procedures if that information is not covered in orientation. Such policies may concern lunch breaks, department hours, dress code and smoking regulations.
  • The student will not chew gum or eat while treating patients.
  • The student is responsible for preserving privacy, dignity and safety of all people, including patients, patients’ families or caregivers, clinical faculty and support staff.
  • The student must respect patient confidentiality. Patient records or identifying information does not leave the facility. Information related to any patient’s condition should never be discussed with individuals not involved with the care of that patient.  Any patient information for case studies or research should contain no identifying information.
  • The student is expected to adhere to ethical standards of practice.
  • The student should never accept any gratuities offered by their patients.
  • The student must be discreet when asking questions in front of the patient, especially related to prognosis.
  • The student is expected to display common courtesy at all times. Tactful communication is essential to the development of good interpersonal relationships with the CI, patients, physicians and peers.

IX.              Patient Rights

Patients have the right to refuse treatment from a student physical therapist.

X.                 Clinical Reasoning Project

During CPI students are required to participate in an orthopedic clinical reasoning project.  This will be reviewed with the CI and will be submitted to the ACCE and AACCE for grading.

XI.              Inservice

Each student is required to present an inservice (or perform a research project) to the physical therapy staff during CP II, III, and IV. The inservice may be any topic related to physical therapy that is mutually agreed upon by the student and the CI.

XII.            Self-Evaluation

Students are expected to self-evaluate their performance during the clinical experience by completing the Clinical Performance Instrument at midterm and final evaluation. This should be shared with the clinical instructor. Additionally, any personal goals should be assessed for progress towards meeting those goals.

XIII.         Evaluation of the Clinical Experience and Clinical Instruction

MUSC has adopted the APTA’s Clinical Experience and Clinical Instruction Evaluation form. Each student is required to complete an evaluation of the CI at mid-term and the end of each rotation. Sharing this information with the CI will allow the CI to make reasonable adjustments during the course of the experience and for future students. These forms are returned to the school after completing the rotation.  Additionally, a Clinical Experience Evaluation on the overall experience evaluation form is to be completed. This is to be shared with the CCCE as well as the CI. The clinical experience evaluation is then placed in the facility files for future students to review when selecting their clinical placements. If the evaluation is determined to be an unfair assessment of the facility, it is not added to the files. These evaluations will remain in the clinical facility file for a period of five years.  Both the Clinical Experience and the Clinical Instructor Evaluations are to be returned to the MUSC Physical Therapy Education Department.

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