Physical Therapy Clinical Education


PT Clinical Education

The Creighton University clinical education experience is rooted in the development of clinical reasoning skills, the application of theory and general principles and providing optimal care to enhance patient movement and function with compassion and competence.

A Focus on Expertise and Career Success

Students in the clinical education program focus on basic and applied sciences, clinical reasoning and bridging theory with practice. Our faculty mentors are dedicated to critical analysis, inquiry and deliberate and moral action. With their support, you’ll identify goals and objectives for your clinical experiences that will facilitate professional growth.

100% Creighton PT students employed within 1 year of graduation

A Robust Educational Experience Guided by Expert Clinicians

Our clinical instructors, all of whom meet the APTA Guidelines for Clinical Education, effectively guide students through their actions and decision-making.

The 44-week clinical education program provides ample opportunities for you to learn in the field. Semester three and five both conclude with a six-week clinical experience. Following completion of the didactic curriculum, the seventh semester will consist of a 16-week experience, followed by a 16-week experience in semester eight.

Over 300 affiliations

Clinical Locations


Experiential learning is a fundamental strength of our program. In addition to structured laboratory activities within the classroom, students participate in community-based activities and events geared toward health promotion and prevention right after beginning the program.

Our program provides four full-time professional practice experiences for a total of 44 weeks of experiential education. A six-week clinical experience occurs at the end of Semester 3. Semester 5 concludes with another six-week experience.  Following completion of the didactic curriculum, Semester 7 consists of a16-week experience followed by another 16-week experience in Semester 8. Frequently the last two experiences are split to include different types of patients at the same site.

We offer hundreds of experiences across the United States, and our clinical education faculty work closely with you to determine what opportunities best fit your educational and professional goals.

You may also choose to participate in our four-week clinical education program in the Dominican Republic, referred to as the ILAC program. About one-third of our graduating class enrolls in the program each year. This allows students to provide professional service to under-served populations at clinical sites in Santiago while supervised by faculty members and U.S. licensed physical therapists.

Other opportunities include the China Honors Immersion Program (CHIP) and the Professional Directed Practice Experience. CHIP is a one-week interprofessional program in China in which students and faculty from physical therapy, occupational therapy and nursing work with rehabilitation practitioners and their patients, exchange ideas on healthcare and experience a different culture. The Professional Directed Practice Experience is a special clinical education endeavor, typically four to six weeks in length, which is individually tailored to your goals. You may choose a specialized area of clinical practice, teaching, research, administration or other areas of focused advanced study.

Clinical Education Curriculum

Clinical Education Plan

Each student will develop a comprehensive Clinical Education Plan in accordance with the:

  1. Mission, Purposes and Program Outcomes of the Department of Physical Therapy
  2. Conceptual Orientation of Physical Therapy Clinical Education at Creighton University
  3. Evaluative Criteria for the Accreditation of Education Programs for the Preparation of Physical Therapists
  4. APTA Guide to Physical Therapist Practice

The Plan will include the student’s goals and mission statement for the clinical education program as well as specific objectives for each clinical experience. Each student will choose clinical education experiences that meet a breadth and depth of clinical practice.

Integrated Professional Practice Experiences

The first formal clinical experience will occur at the end of the third semester in PTD 560 Professional Practice I. This is a 6-week, full-time clinical education experience where students will demonstrate competence in basic assessment skills including communication and application of ethics, comprehensive screening examinations, fundamental physical therapy procedures and simple application of a clinical reasoning model.

A second clinical experience, PTD 670 professional Practice III, occurs at the end of the fifth semester and is a 6-week experience. Students should now be able to know where to begin with complex patient cases and identify an analysis and decision-making process. By the end of the second year, we expect students to have the basic tools to begin entry-level practice, but still need experience and development in several areas.

These early clinical experiences are designed to be intensive rather than extensive, i.e., a central component will be each student’s thoughtful analysis of the experience as well as competence in the area of clinical practice.

Final Professional Practice Experiences

In the third year, students will complete a 16-week practice experience (PTD 680) in the fall and a 16-week practice experience (PTD 690) the following spring. Students are directly involved in the formulation/design of these experiences which emphasize not only integration of patient care activities, but aspects of supervision, management, patient education teaching and consultation. These experiences are designed to develop students into entry level clinicians. For several students, one of these experiences may not necessarily be directly related to patient cases, but may take them to other field based settings nationally or internationally (Directed Practice Experiences).

Resources for Clinical Education Sites

Access the following forms and guidelines by clicking on the links:


Rights and Privileges for CCCEs and CIs

The rights and privileges of clinical education faculty are focused primarily on education. The APTA Clinical Instructor Program and Advanced Clinical Instructor Program are offered at discounted rates to CCCEs and CIs. Clinical sites who offer clinical experiences in a specific calendar year are also offered the privilege to access our Health Sciences library. Other rights and responsibilities related to participation in Creighton’s Clinical Education program are outlined in the site agreement.

Continuing Education

Please contact Lisa Black at lisablack [at] creighton [dot] edu for more information about specific Physical Therapy Continuing Education courses.