Purpose: The purpose of this study was to evaluate the use of a week-one clinical survey tool for early identification of student perceived barriers, including personal and environmental safety, that may impact success during full-time clinical education experiences (CEE) in physical therapy. Methods: DPT students (n= 81) engaged in full-time CEE in their second and third years were required to complete an online self-designed survey tool regarding perceptions of safety, clinical instructor (CI) satisfaction, and clinical challenges. Students in their third year completed the survey for both experiences. Data were assessed to compare second versus third-year student responses overall using a Mann-Whitney U test. Qualitative data was analyzed using an incident coding process. Results: Most students (65.1%) indicated high satisfaction with their CI (≥ 9 on a 10-pt scale). Two students (1.8%) indicated feeling unsafe. There were no differences between cohorts for perception of personal safety or completion of orientation, but there was a difference in rating of their experience with the CI (p = .008). Narrative responses revealed that students’ perceptions of CI personality characteristics were related to their overall CI satisfaction. There were no differences between cohorts or levels of CEE in overall qualitative themes from the open-ended questions, but there was a difference in the impact of each qualitative theme and associated subcategories. Conclusion: During the first week of a CEE, students reported high CI satisfaction and low personal and environmental safety concerns. Further research is needed to examine the perspective of other stakeholders with the utilization of this week-one clinical survey tool. The results of this study are the first to contribute an understanding of the barriers to success during the first week of a CEE from the students’ perspective.

Author Bio(s)

Bridget R. Eubanks, PT, DPT, is the Co-Director of Clinical Education and Assistant Professor in the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program at Campbell University. She is a licensed physical therapist and a Board-Certified Clinical Specialist in Neurologic Physical Therapy. She is currently the secretary for the Carolina Clinical Education Consortium.

Jennifer Bunn, PhD, is an Associate Dean and Professor in the College of Health Sciences at Sam Houston State University. She is a Fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine. She is a section editor for the International Journal of Exercise Science.

Heidi Shearin, PT, DPT, is a licensed physical therapist in the state of NC.





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