16 Jan 2018

This summer I became a clinical instructor for the first time, and it was

exciting to be on the other side, having been the student during four

clinical’s throughout Physical Therapy school in the past five years. It

was specially meaningful to become a CI because I  had been a student at

the place where I now work. With experience as both a  CI and a student,

I want to share advice for being a successful student Physical

Therapist with the Rate my CI readers:

1. Do your homework

While taking a break from classes is awesome, remember that you still

have some work to do while on clinical. Bring a notebook with you and

keep track of questions that you have for your CI and things you need to

research at home. Take advantage of this time in your life to learn as

much as you can and impress your CI by being as knowledgeable as

possible about the patients you’re treating.

2. Make use of downtime

In between patients or during gaps in your schedule, have an idea of

different techniques you want to practice. Once you’re out on your own,

you may not have anyone checking your skills, so take advantage of

having supervision and guidance while you still can. Practice manual

skills you’re not comfortable trying out on patients, or learn additional

techniques beyond what you’ve seen in school. If you can learn new

things on clinical’s, it will make you a more rounded physical therapist

and set you apart from other new graduates.

3. Get to know the patients

One of the best compliments you can receive as a student is to be well

liked by patients. As a student, you may not have the skills or experience

to be remembered by patients as an excellent clinician, but you can be

known for being friendly.  I was impressed when I left my student alone

in the room on her first day and returned to find her deep in

conversation with the patient. When patients missed her at the end of

the summer, it was a sign she had passed the internship.

4. Network with the other clinicians

I’m glad I got to know therapists besides my CI at my third internship

because when I officially got hired, I already knew and felt comfortable

with everyone. Additionally, I have a better understanding of how

doctors, nurses, and aides function on the healthcare team because I

made a point of working with them and shadowing them during my time

as a student.

5. Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable

Your CI doesn’t expect you to be a perfect clinician. During one clinical, I

messed up screening a patient during an evaluation to the point where

my CI had to step in and take over. I was horrified and apologized, but

went home and practiced doing screens all night. The next day I made up

for the mistake when I was able to come in and perform a screen

perfectly. The overall impression was that I was a hard worker and eager

to improve, not that I had made a mistake. Even if you get something

wrong, the most important thing is to recover and learn from it.

Good luck on your clinical’s!

BY :

Dr. Jasmine Marcus, PT, DPT
Jasmine Marcus
Dr. Jasmine Marcus, PT, DPT is a writer and physical therapist at an outpatient clinic in Upstate New York. She graduated from Columbia University’s program in physical therapy and received her undergraduate degree in psychology from Cornell University. Before deciding to become a physical therapist, she was a journalist and the host of a college sports radio show in Israel. Jasmine is especially interested in orthopedics and sports physical therapy, and combining physical therapy with her media experience. Her writing has been featured in New Grad Physical Therapy, Covalent Careers, The PT Student, Pre-DPT Society, and PT-Grad; she has been quoted by Men’s Journal, Insider, Bustle, and Eat This Not That; and she has been interviewed by NAOIMT and Creating a PT. Follow her on Twitter @JMarcusDPT, see her on Instagram @JMarcusDPT, and check out her personal website www.jasminemarcus.com. Contact Jasmine to have her proofread and edit your application essay, Physical Therapy website, or other important document.


  1. […] past summer, I became a clinical instructor for the first time. Here is my advice for students on how to ace your […]

  2. Jasmine Williams January 18, 2018 at 5:17 pm - Reply

    I appreciate your perspective as a CI and the advice! Thanks for sharing, Jasmine!

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