DPT Clinical Education

Clinical education is a critical component of the DPT curriculum, providing students the opportunity to practically apply classroom instruction and to develop their clinical and patient care skills under the supervision of licensed physical therapist practitioners. Our DPT students participate in an innovative clinical education curriculum that offers both breadth and depth to their clinical learning. 

Student Team Experience in Practice (STEPs®)

STEPS photo

During the first phase of the curriculum, students participate in a team-based, full-time integrated clinical education experience called STEPs®. Over the course of the first year, the STEPs® curriculum is scheduled for one and two-week blocks of time, providing students the opportunity to practice with two different patient populations. These experiences are designed to go hand-in-hand with the program’s coursework and provide students a breadth of experience through collaborative learning.

STEPs® is an active learning experience and students engage in hands-on patient care, clinical problem solving, and peer-learning activities with mentorship and guidance from their clinical instructor. Students remain with the same team throughout the STEPs® experiences, complementing the Duke DPT team-based learning approach. Clinical instructors are carefully selected and provided with ongoing training and support that is specific to this unique learning experience. 

Third-Year Terminal Clinical Experiences

In the final year of the DPT program, students complete three clinical experiences in clinical sites around the country. These pivotal 12-week experiences occur after the completion of all didactic coursework, and students develop the skills and abilities needed to practice as an excellent, entry-level clinician. All students are required to complete experiences that provide breadth of experiences across patient populations. 

While availability varies from year to year, clinical experience opportunities exist in over 200 clinical sites throughout the United States. Students select their third-year clinical experiences through a lottery-match system.  Student input is considered strongly in the matching process, and students receive guidance in preparation for the match.

All terminal clinical experience sites are selected and approved by the Directors of Clinical Education (DCE). The establishment of new affiliation agreements will be considered by the DCEs only when the clinical site meets the specific requirements and needs of the DPT program and offers a learning environment consistent with Duke DPT’s mission.

For Our Clinical Instructors

Our clinical education curriculum is designed to challenge our students to excel in a challenging and complex healthcare environment. We rely on our clinical instructors to achieve this goal and we are committed to supporting our clinical partners in both their clinical teaching and clinical practice.

We offer discounts to the APTA Level 1 and Level 2 Credentialed Clinical Instructor Program and are exploring continuing education opportunities that will be of interest to our clinical community.

If you are interested in partnering with Duke DPT and becoming a clinical instructor, please contact our Directors of Clinical Education, Katie Myers, at Katherine.D.Myers@duke.edu, and Jamie Greco, at Jamie.Greco@duke.edu.