Block scheduling: What is it, how does it work, and what does it mean for our students?


In the development of the program, the Program Director and the Director of Clinical Education embraced a new method of scheduling the student courses via a block-scheduling format. The purpose of this platform presentation is to provide education on how the concept of block scheduling works and how our students are able to build upon their knowledge from the previous block to prepare for integrated and full time clinical education experiences.


Block scheduling is a method of instruction beginning in the first semester of the DPT Program. Block scheduling means that students are enrolled in only 1-3 courses at a time, and each block lasts anywhere from 4 to 8 weeks. Each block builds upon the previous block in their education. The first block, and semester of the program, consists of Anatomy, a 6 credit course, and Ethics in Healthcare, a 2 credit course, lasting 8 weeks. These courses set the foundation of the remainder of the curriculum in the PT Program. The second semester consists of 3 blocks, third semester consists of 4 blocks, fourth semester consists of 2 blocks, fifth semester consists of 2 blocks, sixth semester consists of 3 blocks, and the seventh semester consists of 3 blocks. The eighth and ninth semesters in the program each consists of two 8 week long full-time clinical education experiences. At the end of each semester, the students have a cumulative practical to ensure that students are able to tie together all of the courses throughout the semester. Throughout each semester, the students are also completing hours in the DPT Program Pro Bono Clinic to continue to practice their skills, depsite that they have moved onto the next block and the next set of courses within the curriculum.


As a result of the block scheduling, students are able to focus their attention on a decreased number of subjects at any given time. While the students are learning an entire textbook in a 4 week period, they only have to learn 1-2 textbooks at a time. The students who will be graduating from the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program in 2018, will have completed 136 credits over 9 semesters, although, at most, they only focus on 8 credits at a time. As a result of the block scheduling, while completing their time in the pro bono clinic, the students are ready to complete their clinical education just as equally as those students who attend a DPT program with a traditional scheduling module. Our students will be completing their first full-time clinical education experience in the summer of 2016 which means that additional outcomes will be ready for ELC 2016 in Phoenix.

Conclusions/Relevance to the conference theme: The Pursuit of Excellence in Physical Therapy Education

Block scheduling relates to the specific thematic area of Instructional Strategies for the Classroom and Clinic, as this method, with the use of semester end practicals and ongoing treatment in the pro bono clinic, demonstrates an effective tool that can be utilized at other schools. As a result, this topic greatly fits into The Pursiot of Excellence in Physical Therapy Education.



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  • Control #: 2527079
  • Type: Platforms
  • Event/Year: ELC2016
  • Authors: Dr. Heidi Nelson
  • Keywords:

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