Physical Therapy

Clinical Education

The Director of Clinical Education (DCE) is responsible for arranging all clinical internships that will involve travel throughout the University of Toronto catchment area.  The catchment extends from Oakville in the west to Pickering in the east and the northern boundary is Barrie.  No student may undertake to make her/his own arrangements with any clinical site.  Doing so will inhibit your opportunity to be placed at that site in the future.

Notes:

  1. Although every effort will be made to place students in their preferred area, the Department of Physical Therapy reserves the right to place students where and when it finds it necessary to meet the needs of that student’s program.
  2. Students are reminded that internships are limited and subject to availability.  Students, therefore, may be required to complete their clinical unit requirements outside of their area of preference/residence.  In this situation, accommodation and travel expenses are the responsibility of the student.

Clinical Education Sites

A listing of all sites affiliated with our clinical education program can be found on our Clinical Partners page.

Clinical Education Requirements

It is the mandate of the University of Toronto, Department of Physical Therapy, to educate and graduate Physical Therapy students who are competent to practice as generalists.

Each student is required to complete 28 weeks of approved full-time clinical practice as well as structured clinical sessions throughout the curriculum.  The number and length of internships have been selected to provide students with an opportunity to develop skills at the various stages of their education, while allowing adequate opportunity for exposure to different areas of physical therapy practice.

These internships may be across the continuum of care in acute care, rehab, long term care or community care.  Community based care includes private practice, WSIB community clinics, industry opportunities, CCAC and community service agencies.   You may also have the opportunity to do a special interest internship.  These opportunities may be selected by the student according to personal interest based on available internship opportunities.  This may be an additional cardiorespiratory, musculoskeletal or neurology internship, provided it is not a repeat of an internship already completed.  (For example, a student who has completed a medical/surgical internship could select another cardiorespiratory internship as a selective, but it would have to be in a different area, e.g., respiratory rehabilitation.)

Students are required to have at least one internship in cardiorespiratory care, neurology and two internships in musculoskeletal practice. One internship must be in acute care, another in rehabilitation care, and a third must be in community care which may include out-patient practice.  Unless there are extenuating circumstances, no more than two internships in the curriculum may be in outpatient musculoskeletal practice.  Satisfactory completion of all clinical units is required for graduation.

Internship requests will be reviewed by the Director of Clinical Education (DCE) and every attempt will be made to meet the needs of the students’ program.  Where difficulties arise in meeting these exact requirements, the DCE will attempt to arrange the most suitable alternative.  Students are encouraged to meet with the DCE to discuss their particular circumstances where necessary.

Clinical Internship Selection

In most circumstances, students may request up to five internship options (e.g., five cardiorespiratory sites or five neurology sites) per session.  A list of all available clinical internships will be made available to the students whereby they may make their selections on the appropriate forms.

The DCE will attempt to match the students to one of their five choices through a computerized, random assignment process once specific learning needs or clinical site requirements are considered. Since internship availability is dependent upon the group selection process, students may not necessarily receive one of their preferred options.  Some internships may change or be cancelled due to uncontrollable circumstances and we will attempt to rematch you.  These situations are often beyond the university’s control.

Certain specialty internships may require previous experience in a suitable rotation (e.g., cardiorespiratory, outpatient orthopaedics).  Only students who meet these criteria will be eligible for internship in these particular facilities.

Note:  If a student declines an internship, such action may lengthen the student’s program, delay graduation and be associated with additional tuition fees.

Clinical Internship Requests Outside of University of Toronto Catchment Area

Following successful completion of the first clinical internship of Unit 4, students may request two out-of-catchment internships while in the program.  Students must have a minimum of 75% overall average, and have progressed through the program with no conditions and no problems in any of their previous clinical experiences.  Students granted a supplemental practical exam in a subject area will not be permitted to go out of catchment for the internship relevant to that unit.

International Clinical Internships

Students may undertake one five week internship outside of Canada.  The request will be considered for Unit 7, Unit 9 or Unit 11 only.  The University of Toronto charges all students a $50 administration fee for processing international internships.  Students interested in arranging an internship in a country outside of Canada should meet with the DCE prior to the initiation of any contact with international facilities.  This will ensure the appropriate documentation is forwarded to the sites for their review.  It is the student’s responsibility to research and make initial contact with international facilities.  Once the student has received written confirmation of a facility’s interest, the DCE will follow-up with the facility to confirm arrangements and forward the appropriate documents.  On the Clinical Education website, a specific section has been dedicated to international clinical internships including the international site requirements and student requirements.  Please review this section and make an appointment to see Professor Brenda Mori if you are interested in an international opportunity.

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Other Rules and Regulations

Clinical Attendance Policy

Students must attend all clinical practice sessions in the Physical Therapy Program.  In the event of medical illness, injury, or extenuating circumstances where the student will be absent from their clinical internship, the student is required to inform the Clinical Instructor (CI) and the Centre Coordinator for Clinical Education (CCCE) before clinical hours so that patients may be re-assigned.  The student is also required to inform the DCE of any absences from clinical internships.  If, due to illness, a student is unable to attend clinical practice for three or more consecutive days, the student must provide the CCCE & DCE at the Department of Physical Therapy with a medical certificate. A student who misses more than one day of a full-time clinical internship must make up the time lost.  A lengthy absence may necessitate withdrawal from an internship.

ALL arrangements for making up time lost from clinical practice are the responsibility of the student with the CI and CCCE.  It is the responsibility of the student to inform the DCE of the plan to make up time lost from the clinical internship.  No student may arrange with his/her CI to make up time lost outside of designated clinical hours unless this has been approved by the CCCE and DCE.

Students are not excused from clinical practice sessions to attend courses or conferences outside of the clinical site unless clinically relevant to their internship.  The student must obtain approval from the CCCE and CI prior to registering for the course/conference.

Student Dress Code

Being a health care professional within the clinical setting carries many responsibilities, including professional dress and behaviour. The dress code exists for your safety as a health professional and the safety of your patients. A dress code policy exists in all clinical facilities and students MUST abide by the policy of the site that they are attending.  A student may be sent home from their clinical internship for the day if the site deems her/his dress to be unacceptable.  In the event that the site wishes the student to comply with the University of Toronto, Department of Physical Therapy dress code policy, it is as follows:

  • Conservative, professional and non revealing attire is expected (e.g. clothes must be neat and ironed; shirts sleeves must be at or longer than the mid-humerus level; shorts and skirts must be knee length).  No denim, jeans, track pants, training pants, shirts with logos, sleeveless shirts nor shirts with cap sleeves.
  • Flat shoes must be clean and presentable with a closed heel and toe.
  • Smooth rings that are not at risk of scratching a patient, a short necklace, watch and small stud earrings may be worn; any other visible cosmetic body piercings are not allowed.
  • Hair must be neat and tidy with long hair tied back.
  • Nails must be short and smooth.  Nail polish is not permitted, nor are acrylic and gel overlay nails.
  • Makeup should be discreet.
  • Chewing gum may not be chewed when in the presence of patients or when attending meetings.

Student Identification

All students are required to identify themselves as Physical Therapy students throughout the program.  Clinical ID cards (provided by the Department of Physical Therapy) must be worn at all times in clinical facilities.  Students must introduce themselves as PT students to all clients and staff.  Written documentation must clearly be signed ‘PT U of T student’ and ‘year’.  If you lose your Clinical ID Card you must replace it immediately by emailing the Student Liaison Officer at ptstudent.services@utoronto.ca.

Health Requirements

In certain patient-care settings or institutions where students are assigned for clinical units, documentary proof of a current Tuberculin Test and/or negative chest x-ray, as well as proof of current immunization against specific diseases, may be required.  Please be aware that some sites (for example paediatric sites, long term care sites) require all staff to receive the flu vaccine.  As a student in such an environment, you are required to produce evidence of your vaccination. In addition, special requirements regarding infection control may be required.

All students are expected to keep a copy of their health record as clinical sites may request proof of immunization.  It will be the responsibility of the student to submit a copy of his/her immunization record to the facility with the letter of acceptance.

Infection Control

The Ministry of Health and Long Term Care & Department of Physical Therapy strongly recommend the influenza vaccine.  Clinical facilities strongly encourage all staff and students to receive the influenza vaccine.  If there is an outbreak and the student is not vaccinated, they may be redeployed by the site or when appropriate dismissed from the clinical site for the safety of the student and patients.  If students are unable to achieve the objectives of the internship, they will have to repeat the clinical internship which may delay graduation and be associated with increased fees.

Criminal Record Checks

Increasingly, some sites (for example school boards, paediatric facilities, long term care dentres, community care employers) require that employees, including students, have a completed criminal record check or vulnerable sector screen prior to the start of the clinical internship. Students assigned to placements at these locations will be required to complete and submit the results of a the Criminal Record Check, at their own expense. Students will be informed by the Department of Physical Therapy if this check is necessary prior to the beginning of the placement. Please note that failure to obtain a satisfactory police record check may result in an alternate or delayed placement and may affect the graduation date. You may wish to obtain two original copies of your report so that you have one for your own records.

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