What Is the Perceived Value of Clinical Education Site Visits in Physical Therapist Education?


Academic faculty site visits are one way in which Directors of Clinical Education assure they are meeting the quality guidelines outlined by the Commission on Accreditation of Physical Therapy Education1,2. These site visits can be costly as they require faculty time, travel expenses and clinical instructor time3. The purpose of this study was to ascertain the perceived value of academic faculty site visits compared to a phone or video call during a student physical therapist clinical education experience.


This quantitative research study was conducted by faculty in the physical therapy departments at Northeastern University (NEU) and the University of New England (UNE). The participants were Site Coordinators of Clinical Education (SCCE) and Clinical Instructors (CI) who were licensed physical therapists with greater than 1 year of clinical experience, were older than 21 years of age, and had been the clinical faculty for either institution within the past year. The survey was emailed to 480 clinical sites and collected information on their experiences with clinical site visits from the academic faculty. The survey included 26 questions with both open responses and 5-point Likert Scale questions, that gathered demographic information and their believed value about site visits. The questions regarding beliefs about site visits were modified from an earlier study regarding Physician Assistant and Pharmacy clinical education4,5.


Participants from the 110 surveys returned out of 480 (23% response rate) had a mean of 10 yearsÕ experience as a CI and the majority worked in outpatient clinical settings. Eighty percent of the participants agreed or completely agreed that site visits improved communication between the academic program and the CI. Seventy-five percent of participants agreed or completely agreed that site visits were valuable. However, 56% of their managers didnÕt. There was an even split of participants preferring phone calls over site visits. Among those that preferred site visits, they reported feeling that they fostered ease of and increased communication around dealing with student concerns. Participants indicated feeling more supported when they received a site visit.

Conclusions/Relevance to the conference theme:

While the vast majority of CIs reported finding value in site visits, half of them reported preferring phone calls to visits. Since CIÕs felt greater support regarding student issues with site visits, the academic faculty should make every effort to perform site visits. A majority of respondents reported a belief that their manager did not value these visits, thus this may represent a potential barrier to site visits and may be an area for additional research. While the survey did not research the cost of site visits, using phone/virtual visits instead of site visits would reduce educational costs and are effective alternatives for checking in on studentsÕ clinical performance.

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  • Control #: 26583
  • Type: Poster Presentation - Research Type
  • Event/Year: ELC2020
  • Authors: Debra Bangs
  • Keywords:

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