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Role of the Student

Once assigned to a clinical facility the student responsibilities include:

Initial Contact

The student is instructed to contact the facility six to eight 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 DCE), etc. Students are aware that facilities may be unable to accommodate special learning experiences.

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 his/her CI and/or other staff members, and avoiding requests for special schedule accommodations.

Additional opportunities for learning may occur during the evening or weekends. 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 experience.


The student is expected to be present every day during their clinical experience (refer to the Core Requirements section of the Course Syllabus for additional details and information).  The CI/SCCE may determine whether the student should make up any lost days based on the student’s performance.  If the student is out for more than two days, the school should be contacted to assist with formulation of a plan for making up missed time/educational opportunities.


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

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 the student needs the days to develop their knowledge and skills, the student will be required to make up time. If this occurs during the first clinical experience, alternate methods will be used to expand/supplement the clinical learning.

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 name tag is required when in the clinic or when performing related duties.
  • Shoes should be 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.

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 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.

Patient Rights

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

Clinical Reasoning Project

During the first clinical experience, Clinical Practicum (CP) I, students are required to participate in an orthopedic clinical reasoning project. This will be reviewed with the CI and will be submitted to the DCE for grading.  An oral presentation related to evaluation and treatment management for the selective patient will occur when the student returns to campus.


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


Students are required to complete the MUSC Weekly Planning form the first half of the clinical experience.  Students are also required to self-evaluate their performance during the clinical experience by completing the Clinical Performance Instrument at midterm and final evaluation. The weekly planning form and CPI are shared with the CI to enhance the student's abilities for self reflection. Additionally, any personal goals should be assessed for progress towards meeting those goals.

Evaluation of the Clinical Experience and Clinical Instruction

MUSC utilizes a school developed tool to assess the clinical experience and CI. The student is required to complete the evaluation at the conclusion of the experience. This should be shared with the CI and SCCE. The facility may require an additional evaluation form.