Purpose: The value of an Integrated Clinical Experience (ICE) is well documented, but student physical therapists’ perspectives of an early ICE are not. A first semester ICE allows practice of expected skills and behaviors from the onset of a professional program. The purpose of this study was to explore students’ perceptions of a first-semester ICE. Methods: A questionnaire was completed by 36 student physical therapists after a first semester part-time ICE. SPSS Statistics, thematic analysis, and a mixed-methods approach were used to analyze the data. Results: Students agreed the ICE emphasized the importance and allowed practice of professional and communication skills (SD = 0.6 – 0.8, IQR = 1) and psychomotor and documentation skills (SD = 0.8 – 1.0, IQR = 0 – 1.25). All students agreed that applying the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) model to a patient vignette increased their understanding of ICF model usage. Thematic analysis revealed students enjoyed working with actual patients, positive qualities of the Clinical Instructor (CI), and applying skills learned in class. Drawback themes included the ICE being too early in the program or students having limited professional knowledge, the ICE being too short, and the CI not involving the student in patient care. Conclusion: A first semester ICE provides an almost immediate opportunity for students to experience clinical expectations and transition from the roles of observers to student physical therapists. Given the advantages and no existing evidence of benefits to wait beyond the first semester to employ the first ICE, programs should consider incorporating a PTICE in the first semester.

Author Bio(s)

Alicia Rabena-Amen, PT, DPT, is an Assistant Professor and Director of Clinical Education at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California

Tyler Goslinga, PT, DPT, is the clinic manager at Golden Bear Physical Therapy in Ripon, California.

Amber Orchard is a student physical therapist Class of 2023 at the University of the Pacific DPT program in Stockton, California.

Fatema Ghani, PT, DPT, it the Director of University Relations for Therapy Partners Group, Lodi, California.

Todd Davenport, PT, DPT, MPH, is a Professor and Vice-Chair at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California.


Submission Location


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