An Eye on Student Readiness for Clinical Education: Use of the IRIS (Iowa Readiness Index for Students)


Following the ACAPT Clinical Education Summit held in October 2014, a recommendation was made to “develop a requisite core set of knowledge, skills, attitudes and professional behaviors to move into….clinical experiences” (ACAPT Summit Report and Recommendations, 2014). A need to benchmark student readiness for clinical experiences was identified. As a result, the Iowa Readiness Index for Students (IRIS) metric was developed to allow faculty an objective means of identifying students who have areas of deficiency to be addressed prior to clinical assignment. The IRIS gauges student preparedness in the cognitive, psychomotor, and affective domains.


The IRIS is used to gauge student performance on three dimensions: academic achievement, psychomotor skill acquisition, and professionalism. Each dimension score is scaled to a maximum of 100 points to allow for comparisons across categories. The academic achievement score is calculated for each student using his or her GPA. Scores attained on laboratory practical exams are used to represent a student's physical therapy examination and intervention psychomotors skills. The professionalism score is calculated from faculty ratings on the Professionalism Assessment Tool (University of Mississippi Medical Center) and the Professional Behaviors tool (May et al., 2009).

The IRIS allows for a "student readiness" score to be calculated across the three dimensions. This score is then benchmarked across the entire class to identify students who are in need of academic remediation or guidance in regard to professional behavior issues.


The IRIS can be used to identify students who are at risk for difficulties in the clinical environment. The tool serves two essential functions for the future of physical therapy education. The first is early identification of students in need of either remediation or mentoring from faculty to improve their performance in any of the three dimensions. The second is to have a benchmark that can be used to recommend whether students are ready to progress to clinical education experiences.

Conclusions/Relevance to the conference theme: Shaping the Future of Physical Therapy Education

Student readiness to enter clinical education environments has been identified as a pivotal issue to the success physical therapy education. There is a need for tools that allow faculty to recognize and provide intervention for students at risk for difficulties in the clinic, as well as to identify students who are not yet ready to participate in clinical education activities. The IRIS is example of such a tool that can be adapted for use in any academic program.


1. American Council of Academic Physical Therapy. Clinical Education Summit, October 12-13, 2014: Summit Report and Recommendations.

2. University of Mississippi Medical Center. Professionalism Assessment Tool. Accessed April 10, 2015.

3. May W, Kontney L, Iglarsh ZA. Professional Behaviors for the 21st Century. 2009-2010. Accessed April 10, 2015.

BACK to Abstract Results

  • Control #: 2288976
  • Type: Posters
  • Event/Year: ELC2015
  • Authors: Kelly Sass, Richard Shields
  • Keywords:

BACK to Abstract Results