Clinical Education Requirements


Requirements for Student Participation in a Clinical Practice Course

Prior to students embarking upon any of their clinical education experiences, it is vital for the core faculty to determine each student’s readiness for managing the rigors and challenges of clinical practice. A student’s readiness for clinical practice will be based on each student’s demonstration of sufficient ability in the cognitive, affective, and psychomotor domains in all coursework leading up to the clinical experience. To ensure competent care and to protect the clients whom the students serve, each student must meet the following specific criteria before beginning each clinical education course. See the Clinical Education Manual for details.

  1. All students must have successfully completed all coursework prior to the clinical practice course with a grade of "C", or better or a grade of "Pass", in all clinical practice courses. This requirement for student progression within the Program includes the requirement for passage of all practical examinations with a grade of 75%, or better. See the practical exam re-take policy in the syllabi of all clinical courses. Students will not be permitted to enter a clinical practice course with a grade of "Incomplete" in any course unless authorized by the DPT Academic Review Committee.
  2. A learning contract may be in place for students entering a clinical practice course. However, in such cases, core faculty must agree that the student is sufficiently prepared for the experience and will practice in a safe and effective manner. The extent to which a CI and clinical site is able to accommodate and comply with the specific requirements of the learning contract may also impact a student's ability to engage in a clinical practice course at a particular location.
  3. The student must meet the criterion, "student demonstrates safe practice principles in the performance of lab skills and practical examinations”. This criterion is determined through student passage of all practical examinations. Each practical exam includes criteria related to “Safety” and “Professionalism”. Failure to achieve these criteria results in an immediate failure of the practical examination.
  4. Any student who has committed a breach of the Program's policies regarding professional behaviors may be prohibited from participation in a clinical practice course. If a student fails to correct identified unprofessional behaviors, demonstrates ongoing breaches in professional behavior, or commits an egregious breach of the Program’s expectations related to professional behavior, the student will be prohibited from participation in a clinical practice course and disciplinary action may be taken up to and including dismissal from the Program.   
  5. All students must demonstrate the ability to execute all of the "essential functions" of a physical therapist with or without reasonable accommodation as outlined in Program manuals.


The student must be deemed by the core faculty, including the student’s faculty advisor and ACCE, to be sufficiently prepared for the clinical education experience, as determined by the professional judgment of the faculty. This determination is based upon each student’s performance within the Program in combination with the requirements of the planned clinical site. To support student success, faculty reserve the right to restrict access to specific clinical sites based on these factors. Faculty will share any concerns regarding a student’s readiness to participate in a particular clinical experience during faculty meetings within the standing agenda item, "Student Issues". At the end of semester retreat (ESR), faculty will vote on which students they feel are prepared and which students are not prepared to engage in the pending clinical education experience. A unanimous faculty decision is required for students to enter each clinical education experience. It is the responsibility of core faculty to first and foremost preserve the safety of patients and students to the extent to which they are able.

A student who is at risk or has been determined to lack the readiness for a scheduled clinical experience may not be prepared for a clinical practice course may be referred to the DPT Academic Review Committee. The ARC, who will develop a learning plan and contract that is designed to provide specific tasks with timelines for supporting the student in his/her preparation for the clinical practice course to advocate for the student’s subsequent success in an upcoming clinical experience (see P&P Manual). In the event that a student is deemed to be unprepared to participate in or advance  in a clinical practice experience, (with or without learning contract), the student may be offered an opportunity for further development within the requirements of a learning contract after which demonstration of competency and safety will be required before participating in the clinical experience. If failure to achieve competency and safety is not possible within the time frame required for the student to complete his or her clinical practice course, a failing grade will be assigned, and the student may be dismissed from the Program with or without the opportunity for readmission with the next cohort of students. All courses are pre-requisites of one another so failure to complete a clinical practice course may result in failure of the student to progress within the Program. The ARC, in conjunction with the ACCE, will determine if an exception can be made that would enable the student to complete a clinical practice course out of sequence. This will be decided upon on an individual basis and based upon the extent and nature of each particular student’s deficiency and unique situation. When possible, efforts will be made for learning contracts to be fulfilled and competency and safety demonstrated prior to each clinical practice course so that students can remain within the established curricular sequence of the Program. These criteria are communicated in the P&P Manual.


Student Background Checks and Medical Compliance:


All applicants must understand that in order to meet Program outcomes, they are obliged to directly work with children and/or older adults. There are no alternatives to meet these Program outcomes. Such applicants/students with convictions/charges documented on the criminal or child abuse reports will be denied acceptance into courses with associated clinical practice and, therefore, cannot complete the applicable program of study. Such applicants/students will be advised of other academic study options at Alvernia University and will not be admitted into the DPT Program. Convictions/charges documented on a PA Criminal Record Check report or a Federal Criminal Background Check Report will be based on criteria outlined in Acts 169/13. To practice physical therapy, licensing beyond a college degree is required. Applicants may be denied employment for misdemeanors and felony convictions, including alcohol related offenses.


Criminal Background Clearances:

It is the policy of Alvernia University’s academic programs to fully comply with Pennsylvania State Laws related to criminal record and child abuse history clearances prior to entering any clinical education setting that involves direct contact with children or older adults (defined as a person who is 60 years of age or older) and is associated with academic programs and/or service learning. Students will be required to attain the following criminal background checks prior to matriculation into the DPT Program.  Annual criminal background checks will be required.


Medical Compliance Requirements:

Each DPT student is required to complete all medical compliance requirements prior to August 1 of the matriculation year. Instructions will be provided to all students regarding submission of copies of all medical compliance records and the completion of required documents through the Alvernia University Health and Wellness Portal.  Students will need to retain the originals for all medical records. All DPT students will be required to update medical records during all years of the DPT program as required by Alvernia University, the DPT Program, and specific clinical education facilities. 

Doctor of Physical Therapy Program at Alvernia University is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy (CAPTE), 1111 North Fairfax Street, Alexandria, Virginia 22314; telephone: 703-706-3245; email:; website: The program's current status is probationary accreditation; for more information see If needing to contact the program/institution directly, please call 610-568-1546 or email

DPT Doctor of Physical Therapy