Physical Therapy International Opportunities


PT International Opportunities

If you have the heart to serve, Creighton University provides various opportunities for you to get involved in international service as a physical therapy student and share your health care knowledge and experience with underserved patient populations.

Physical Therapy Institute for Latin American Concern (ILAC) Program

Participate in four weeks of clinical education in the Dominican Republic. You’ll provide professional service to underserved populations in nine clinical sites supervised by Creighton faculty and U.S. licensed clinicians. This is a great opportunity to gain clinical experience while learning about the Dominican Republic, its language and its culture.

Students and clinicians have the opportunity to grow professionally and personally. Clinical practice within this cultural context fosters professional growth through practice with minimal resources. Group reflections and community living facilitate and promote personal growth.

Contact Julie Hoffman, PT, DPT, at juliehoffman [at] creighton [dot] edu or Maggie Schumacher, PT, DPT, at maggieschumacher [at] creighton [dot] edu to learn more about the program.

China Honors Immersion Program (CHIP)

CHIP is a cross-cultural program that promotes international collaboration between health science schools at Creighton and medical universities and hospitals in China. As a U.S. student, you’ll have the opportunity to interact with health care professionals from a different culture and experience a new health care perspective.

Prior to traveling abroad, students enroll in a two-credit hour Cultural Immersion and Experiential Learning in China course that increases their cultural competency and leadership potential. Through a series of seminars, you’ll prepare for successful experiential learning during a one-week intensive in China.

Contact Keli Mu, OTR/L, at kelimu [at] creighton [dot] edu or 402.280.5938 to learn more about CHIP.

Upcoming Dates


  • March 31 - April 30, 2018
  • March 30 - April 29, 2019
  • March 31 - April 24, 2020

ILAC Professional Volunteers Opportunity

Consider serving as a clinical instructor for the students from Creighton University’s Physical Therapy program!

As part of Creighton University’s Institute for Latin American Concern (ILAC), physical therapy students of the graduating class have traveled to the Dominican Republic to provide professional services to underserved populations since 1996. Students and clinicians have the opportunity to provided needed services in a variety of clinics in Santiago, as well as participate in cultural immersion experiences to better understand the Dominican Republic, its language, and its culture.

In order to meet accreditation requirements, students participating in the 4 week clinical education experience must be supervised by U.S. licensed physical therapists. For that reason, we need practicing therapists to serve for either 2 or 4 weeks supervising 2 - 3 students in one clinical site. Clinical settings range from pediatrics to geriatrics serving Dominican and Haitian patients. Throughout the experience, students and professionals work closely with practicing Dominican therapists as well as physical therapy students from La Pontificia Universidad Católica Madre y Maestra. Clinical instructors with a willingness to lead and openness to learn are critical to the success of this program.

In addition to clinical work, students and professionals provide community service including caring for children in an orphanage, providing deparasite medication to children in the Haitian batey, and traveling to a rural village to provide physical therapy services. Cultural immersion experiences including visiting museums, traveling to the capital of Santo Domingo, and forming relationships with Dominicans are integral aspects of the month-long experience.

Physical therapy services are provided in Spanish, so knowledge of the Spanish language is helpful, but not essential. An introductory course in Spanish prior to leaving for the Dominican Republic is highly recommended. Spanish classes are provided throughout the experience while in Santiago. This year, the program runs from March 31-April 29th.  Professionals are responsible for the cost of their own airfare; however, room, board and ground transportation are provided upon arrival. If you are interested in serving as a clinical instructor, please fill-out the below application.The preferred deadline is December 1, however, we may consider late inquiries if space is available. If you have further questions, or would like to apply, please contact the directors of the physical therapy ILAC program, Julie Hoffman at juliehoffman [at] creighton [dot] edu, or Maggie Schumacher at maggieschumacher [at] creighton [dot] edu. We look forward to hearing from you!

ILAC Clinical Sites

Angeles de CONANI

Consejo Nacional para la Niñez y la Adolescencia (CONANI) is a home for children and adolescents with severe physical and/or cognitive disabilities. There are no physical therapists on site at CONANI. Students and professionals in this setting will assist with the daily care of the residents, provide physical therapy care for some residents, model handling skills for the staff, and work with the Encuentro Dominicano students to assist with ongoing care for the children. Students and professionals who are especially successful at this site demonstrate the following qualities: self-directed, show initiative, love and passion for kids, creativity with treatment sessions, and emotional stability. Angeles de CONANI is also a service site for the group, so students will have the opportunity to lead student groups during these service outings.

Attire: Scrubs (you will get dirty), tennis shoes

Hospital Arturo Grullón de los Niños

This site is a public pediatric hospital that serves most of the northern half of the country, including children from Santiago as well as distant towns and villages. You will see a wide range of acute pediatric patients including: orthopedic, neurological, integumentary (burns), cardiovascular/pulmonary, and critical care.  In addition, you may be observing surgeries, re-setting and casting of bones, and visiting the NICU/ICU during this experience.  In the past 5-10 years, the hospital has improved dramatically, including a renovation to the burn unit in 2005. Physical therapy services are only provided at Los Niños during the clinical experience as there are no PTs on staff. Initiative is needed to seek out patients by speaking with doctors and explaining the purpose of physical therapy.  The students and professionals work closely with patients and their families (especially the patient’s mother) for treatment and education. The staff throughout the hospital is very welcoming and willing to help with any questions or concerns that may arise. Strong verbal Spanish skills are recommended for at least one member of the group.

Attire: scrubs or pants and short-sleeve shirt for orthopedic floors, second pair of scrubs (top and bottom) required for burn unit.  Recommend tennis shoes and lab coat.

International Child Care (ICC)

ICC is a community-based rehabilitation program that was started by a Dutch PT several years ago. Health promotors train mothers (or relatives) of children with disabilities in the barrios (inner city) how to best care for their child with special needs and how to foster motor development. These mothers then train other mothers to care for their children with disabilities. Students and professionals at this site travel throughout the city with promotoras (community health care worker) to evaluate children in community centers, homes, or at the local ICC office. They teach the mother and the promotora specific exercise programs for the child, recommend and obtain adaptive equipment, and teach groups of promotoras child handling skills, facilitation techniques and functional training. This site is unique in that you have the opportunity to travel around the city of Santiago and visit children in their homes. Students and professionals who are exceptionally successful at this site demonstrate pediatric experience; autonomy and initiative, a sense of adventure, and innovation with equipment.

Attire: Khakis or capris, t-shirts or sleeveless tees, Keen footwear (optional-highly recommended) or athletic shoes

Patronato Cibao de Rehabilitación, Cabral y Baez – Adults

The Hospital de Cabral y Baez is an acute care public hospital located in Santiago with an outpatient physical therapy department located on the first floor. The department is busy, chaotic, and the physical space is limited. It has a large physical therapy staff and numerous PT students. Students and professionals provide direct patient care, work as a team with the Dominican PT’s, provide charlas (in-services), and work with students from PUCMM (‘puccamayma’) University’s Physical Therapy program.  This clinical site includes adult neurological rehab, adult orthopedic rehab, and hand therapy. Students have the opportunity to work with adult patients with a variety of diagnoses including but not limited to stroke, amputation, spinal cord injury, brain injury, pressure ulcers, and various orthopedic injuries.

Clinic attire: white lab coat, name tag, sleeveless shirts or tee-shirts, capri or khaki pants

Patronato Cibao de Rehabilitación, Cabral y Baez – Pediatrics

The Hospital de Cabral y Baez is a public hospital located in Santiago with an out-patient pediatric unit on the first floor. There are four to five physical therapists who work in the pediatric clinic, and they treat a variety of musculoskeletal and neurodevelopmental diagnoses for children of all ages.  Treatment sessions carry a 1:1 therapist to patient ratio, with each session lasting approximately 40 minutes.  Physical therapy students from PUCMM University Physical Therapy Program are sometimes present for a component of their educational experiences. Students and professionals at this site provide direct patient care and charlas (in-services) for the staff and PUCMM students.  Spanish skills are very helpful in this setting as developing a rapport with the established therapists at the clinic is a large component of the clinical experience.  There are also opportunities for the students here to spend time in the adult outpatient clinic which is immediately adjacent to the pediatric clinic. 

Attire: Khaki pants/capris, short sleeved shirt or tank with thick straps, lab coat, closed toe shoes (best if they are easy to slip on and off for playing with kids on the mats)

Patronato Cibao de Rehabilitación – Las Colinas

aka Patronato (or the blue clinic)                                                                      

Patronato is an outpatient orthopedic/neuro clinic associated with Cabral Hospital in Santiago. This site is the most well-equipped of all of the clinical sites offering mat tables, a treadmill, parallel bars, a stationary bike and stairs.  Other equipment available in this facility includes hot and cold modalities, laser, tilt table, and traction.  Students and professionals work with Dominican therapists to provide direct patient care for a variety of diagnoses from low back pain to left sided hemiparesis following a CVA. 1-2 in-services are expected during the rotation based on clinic needs.

Attire: professional dress and lab coat

Patronato Cibao de Rehabilitación- Moca

This is an outpatient rehabilitation site associated with Patronato Cabral located in the town of Moca. Due to the location of the clinic, students and professionals take a taxi to and from the clinic each day. A taxi will pick you up from the ILAC center then return at the end of the work date to drive you back to ILAC. The outpatient clinic provides direct physical therapy services to a variety of adult and pediatric patients. The clinic itself has separate rooms for neuro, ortho, pediatric, and hand therapy.  Because of the variety of settings at this site, you will see a wide range of pathologies and diagnoses. Students and professionals are involved in direct patient care and staff development through in-services.

Attire: Professional dress and a lab coat.

Hospicio San Vicente de Paul

Hospicio is an assisted living center/nursing home for older adults with various levels of functional abilities. Because the residents do not receive regular PT, students and professionals screen the residents to provide PT services to as many residents as possible. This may include providing a daily exercise class, updating previous group programs, modifying assistive equipment, assisting with mobility, etc. In addition to the nursing home, there is a for-profit outpatient clinic, much like what we would see in the States. Common diagnoses in the outpatient clinic include stroke, amputation, post-surgical, and low back pain. Students are expected to provide an in-service to nursing staff and/or the outpatient therapists based on their request. Students and professionals who are energetic, highly motivated, and demonstrate a passion for the geriatric population are particularly successful at this site.

Attire:  professional dress and lab coat

ILAC Frequently Asked Questions

Where do I fly to/from?

Professionals should book their tickets into and out of Santiago de los Caballeros, Dominican Republic at the Ciboa International Airport (Airport code: STI). Students will have their tickets purchased through the ILAC office.

Do you provide transportation from the airport?

Yes, either a bus or taxi will pick you up from the airport and transport you directly to the ILAC center. Look for a pallet with the letters “ILAC”. If your flight status changes, please notify Julie, Maggie, or Andy in the ILAC office.

Do I book my own flight?

Yes, you are responsible for booking your own flight as well as the cost. As soon as you are accepted to the program, you can start to look for the best flight. If you would like confirmation before booking, please contact either Julie or Maggie at the information below.

Where do we stay?

During the week, we stay at the ILAC center which is between Santiago and Licey. The center has dormitories, a cafeteria, laundry facilities, a chapel, classrooms, and a walking/running path. On the weekends we travel to a variety of different places including Santo Domingo, Jarabacoa, and a rural campo village. In Santo Domingo we stay at a hostel. In Jarabacoa we stay at an outside adventure retreat. In the campo, we stay with host families. The final beach weekend is optional and an additional cost. We drive to Sosua by the Sea on the final Friday and return on Sunday evening.

What do we eat?

Breakfast, lunch, and dinner during the week are provided at the ILAC center. There are many great restaurants in Santiago if you choose to explore the city and go out to eat. Food on the weekends is included with the exception of Santo Domingo and the beach.

What is covered?

Housing, food, and transportation is covered by the physical therapy program. Additional costs include food/beverages on your own, souvenirs, food while in Santo Domingo, and the beach weekend.

Is there a dress code? What do I wear?

Attire at your clinical sites varies based on the site. Typically, professional attire or scrubs are worn. If you are working in a more traditional clinical site, white coats are suggested but not required. A nametag is helpful for our Dominican hosts.

At the ILAC center, attire that represents us as volunteers is appropriate. This includes pants or skirts, knee length shorts, or dresses. Tank tops must have wide straps. Athletic attire and swimsuits are not appropriate during work hours. Lightweight attire is recommended due to the heat. Long pants and/or long shirts in the evenings are recommended to avoid mosquito bites. Please see the handbook for more specific recommendations.

Do I need vaccinations?

Talk to your doctor or a travel clinic for recommended vaccines.

Do I need travel insurance?

Yes, travel insurance is required through the Global Engagement Office. More information will be provided upon your acceptance.

Can I travel before or after the program?

Travel before or after the program is up to you! If traveling before the program, you should plan to be at the ILAC center on Saturday when the program starts. If traveling after the program, you are free to leave the ILAC center Friday afternoon when the program is over. The beach weekend is optional. All liability ends when you depart from the group.

Should I bring donated equipment?

Our program runs on donated equipment. A shipment from Creighton University is sent two times per year. Items that are frequently used by the physical therapy program are wheelchairs, walkers, and canes. Unfortunately, we cannot help with the cost of mailing items to Creighton. Smaller items such as theraband and gloves can be packed in your luggage. The handbook provides information specific to each site.

Do I need to be Catholic?

Absolutely not. Creighton University is a Catholic, Jesuit institution grounded in the Jesuits values. However, volunteers of all faith traditions are welcomed and encouraged to apply. Reflection opportunities are available throughout the experience to facilitate deeper spirituality and help process the experience.

If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact Julie Hoffman at juliehoffman [at] creighton [dot] edu or Maggie Schumacher at maggieschumacher [at] creighton [dot] edu.

Cultural Immersion and Experience Learning in China

Course Title: Cultural Immersion and Experiential Learning in China

Credit-Hours: 2
Clock-hour: 2
Required:  No - Elective


Prerequisites: Enrolled full-time in a health science program at Creighton University; Satisfactory completion of all professional coursework to date; Minimum 3.2 cumulative grade point;
Approval of IOR (see enrollment application process)

Course Description: The focus of this two credit hour course is to increase participants’ cultural competency and facilitate their leadership development for societal and global concerns through interprofessional experiential learning in China. Participants will engage in a series of seminars centered on preparation for successful experiential learning in China prior to a week-long international experience. Through immersion and engagement in various professional activities such as observation, advocacy for evidence-based rehabilitation practice and consultation, participants are expected to enhance cultural competency and foster leadership skills for international health concerns. Such an experiential learning immersion will prepare participants to provide culturally sensitive care and assume leadership roles at the international level. A professional dissemination of the experiential learning experience is expected at the end of the course.

Relationship of Course to Curriculum Design: The course content fits into the professional practice, professional identity and leadership themes. The course assignments are very pragmatic to familiarize students with the consultation role through advocacy for health care services in an international health care environment. Students will be expected to demonstrate leadership skills as well as an understanding and appreciation for cultural differences in healthcare.
Relationship of Course to Ignatian Values: This elective course will enable students to experience and exercise Ignatian values of cura personalis, men and women for and with other, and magis. As students immerse themselves in China, engage in experiential learning, interact with different culture and exercise leadership for global health concerns, students are able to exercise these values.

Faculty: Keli Mu, PhD, OTR/L

Course objectives: At the conclusion of this course, the student will:

  • Demonstrate effective interprofessional team communication and collaboration
  • Articulate elements of own cultural values, beliefs, and biases that may influence the delivery of care while in China
  • Discuss the heritage of the Chinese culture related to health and health care
  • Demonstrate knowledge of the social, economic, political, geographic, and demographic factors that influence healthcare delivery, and of prevailing health and welfare needs in China
  • Demonstrate an awareness of culturally competent health care delivery while in China
  • Develop a basic/generic hospital-based program based on data collected prior to the experience and recommendations for adaptation based on a needs assessment.
  • Promote evidence-based rehabilitation practice in China through advocacy at the hosting medical universities and hospitals
  • Analyze the healthcare delivery observed at the Chinese host clinical site using the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health as a framework
  • Demonstrate increased understanding of professional responsibility, culturally aware practice, and health care related to social justice, as well as of their professional role in China