Clinical Education

Clinical Education is a critical component of the DPT curriculum, providing students opportunity to practically apply classroom instruction and to develop their clinical and patient care skills under the supervision of licensed physical therapist practitioners. Our DPT students participate in an innovative clinical education curriculum that offers both breadth and depth to their clinical learning. 

Student Team Experience in Practice (STEPs®)

STEP students by pool

During the first phase of the curriculum, students participate in a team-based, full-time integrated clinical education experience named STEPs®. Over the course of the first year, the STEPs® curriculum is scheduled for one and two-week blocks of time, providing students the opportunity to practice in two different clinical settings. These experiences are designed to go hand-in-hand with the program’s coursework, and provide students a breadth of experience through collaborative learning in both inpatient and outpatient settings. 

STEPs® is an active learning experience and students engage in hands-on patient care, clinical problem solving, and peer-learning activities with mentorship and guidance from their clinical instructor. Students remain with their same team throughout the STEPs® experiences, complementing the Duke DPT team-based learning approach. Clinical instructors are carefully selected and provided with on-going training and support that is specific to this unique learning experience. 

Phase 3: Clinical Education

In the final phase of the curriculum, students complete three clinical experiences in clinical sites around the country.  Each student completes one experience in an inpatient practice setting and one internship in outpatient practice setting. Each experience is 12 weeks in length.  Additionally, these experiences include a curriculum delivered in collaboration with their clinical site helping students continue to advance their leadership potentials and professional identities in self-selected ways.

Third-Year Terminal Clinical Experiences

In the final year of the DPT program, students are immersed in the clinic for clinical experiences. These pivotal experiences occur after the completion of all didactic coursework, and students develop the skills and abilities needed to practice as an excellent, entry-level clinician.

Students select their third-year clinical experiences during Duke DPT Match Day. While availability varies from year to year, clinical experience opportunities exist in over 200 clinical sites throughout the United States. Student input is considered strongly in the Match Day process and students receive guidance in preparation for the match, as well as during the day itself.

All terminal clinical experience sites are selected and approved by the Director of Clinical Education (DCE). The establishment of new affiliation agreements will be considered by the DCE only when the clinical site meets the specific requirements and needs of the DPT program and offers a learning environment consistent with Duke DPT’s mission.

For Our Clinical Educators

Our clinical education curriculum is designed to challenge our students to excel in a challenging and complex healthcare environment. We rely on our clinical instructors to achieve this goal and we are committed to supporting our clinical partners in both their clinical teaching and clinical practice.

We offer discounts to the APTA Level 1 and Level 2 Credentialed Clinical Instructor Program and are exploring continuing education opportunities that will be of interest to our clinical community.

If you are interested in partnering with Duke DPT and becoming a clinical instructor, please contact the Director of Clinical Education, Katie Myers, at or 919-668-2638.


Below you will find links to commonly requested resources, including the student clinical experience handbook, curriculum information, and relevant APTA forms and links. Important dates are also listed below. The clinical education team at Duke DPT is committed to supporting our clinical partners in their teaching and practice.


Program Information

APTA Resources and Forms

Clinical Teaching Resources: