Clinical Requirements, Selection & Placement

Student clinical education experience selection and placements are coordinated based on learning opportunities that provide a variety of experiences in a variety of physical therapy settings. The potential of the clinical site’s staff to model professional behaviors within the PT/PTA team and provide opportunities with patients that are representative of current practice across the lifespan, is also considered. Clinical experiences must enable students to meet all the clinical objectives outlined by the College and must contribute to the achievement of the outcomes required to achieve entry-level performance and safely practice in the profession. While students are permitted to indicate their preferences for placement, the clinical objectives will receive highest priority in the assignment process; convenience factors (such as schedule or commute time to the facility) will be given lowest priority.


Current and prospective students should be aware that there are many requirements associated with the clinical education component of the PTA curriculum, including but not limited to: health and safety immunizations and vaccinations, background check, DHHS Adult and Child Abuse check, personal health insurance, health care provider Basic Life Support (BLS) certification, and other agency-specific onboarding requirements.

Students are responsible for all costs associated with clinical practicums. Expected costs may include: transportation, parking, housing, meals, uniform attire, and additional fees associated with onboarding requirements such background checks and drug testing.

Students should be aware that many clinical sites require additional criminal background checks and/or drug testing prior to accepting a student for a clinical experience. Sites may also request drug or alcohol testing during a clinical experience. A positive or unfavorable result may preclude a student from beginning or completing a clinical experience, which could lead to dismissal from the PTA program.

Clinical request forms are sent out each year on March 1, to all SCCEs at clinical agencies who have an established affiliation agreement with the Clarkson College PTA program. This date corresponds with the national uniform mailing date, as set forth by the APTA and is requested one year in advance of the upcoming clinical education year.

Students completing clinical education hours are expected to be on site and engaged in patient care or educational clinical experiences during their assigned clinical experience. Students are required to adhere to the work hours/schedule of the supervising clinical instructor, which may include evenings and weekend hours. In preparation for an entry-level position as a physical therapist assistant, students must complete clinical education experiences in a variety of settings.

Students in PTA 125 Clinical Practicum I will be placed by the ACCE, in various settings, based on previously provided facility availability. The following settings are required for the final three clinical education experiences:

  • Outpatient
  • Acute/inpatient
  • Skilled nursing facility (SNF)
  • In lieu of either the acute or SNF setting, students interested in a specialty setting (e.g., aquatics, women’s health, pediatrics, vestibular, sports training, etc.) may apply for an alternate placement depending on facility offering and availability.

At least one of the clinical experiences must be completed in a rural setting (defined as a population of 50,000 or less) or an underserved area urban facility, which are known for providing a wide variety of experiences and learning opportunities.

Every attempt is made to keep students close to their homes for clinical experiences, however, students are expected to travel up to 40 miles to a facility in order to ensure optimal learning experiences. Students are responsible for providing their own transportation to clinical sites and to secure housing as necessary.

Students will receive additional information regarding the clinical selection process, placement and requirements, including travel and special requests.

Students in the traditional program option complete the clinical selection process during PTA 125 Clinical Practicum I course. Students in the transfer program option will come to campus in the summer, prior to the start of the first semester, to complete the clinical selection process.

During the clinical selection process, students select their top six choices from available clinical agencies for PTA 220 Clinical Practicum II, PTA 240 Clinical Practicum III and PTA 245 Clinical Practicum IV courses.

The ACCE assigns all clinical placements for each clinical practicum, based on student requests, site availability, and necessary clinical requirements.

Because of the importance and complexity of the processes for evaluating clinical agencies and determining student readiness for clinical education, students may not contact clinical agencies to discuss or arrange clinical learning experiences to meet their personal needs. Any student efforts to bypass the selection and placement process may result in disciplinary action by the ACCE and program director. Students may only initiate contact with a clinical agency after receiving a clinical placement confirmation letter from the ACCE and instruction from the Course Coordinator.

In order to avoid any potential conflict of interest or biased assessments, students cannot be placed at any clinical agency where they are currently employed or have previously worked, in any capacity, or have an existing or established relationship with staff (e.g., current or former patient, volunteer). Students also cannot be placed at a clinical agency where an immediate family member would be in a position with supervisory authority over the student, CI or therapy department.

Clarkson College is an Equal Opportunity/Equal Access/Affirmative Action institution. Clinical practicum placements are made without regard for race, color, marital status, gender, sexual orientation, religion, national origin, disability, age, Vietnam or disabled veteran status, as provided by law and in accordance with the College and its respect for personal dignity.