CHS Physical Therapy

Useful Information for New Students

Characteristics of an Effective Student

  1. Independent, able to take the initiative.
  2. Thirsty for knowledge, open to learning, seeks information.
  3. Looks up information.
  4. Flexible.
  5. Establishes a good rapport with others.
  6. Asks thought provoking questions; inquisitive.
  7. Enthusiastic, positive attitude.
  8. Confident with present knowledge base.
  9. Listens to feedback and acts on it.
  10. Gives feedback to CI: indicates own needs.
  11. Honest with CI if having difficulty with a concept.
  12. Willing to try even if unsure of self.
  13. Aware of own strengths and limitations.
  14. Takes a genuine interest in facility's area of practice.
  15. Actively participates during treatment sessions and offers ideas.
  16. Brings fresh ideas and is willing to verbalize them.
  17. Has good basic knowledge and evaluation skills.
  18. Observant to "little things" about patient, family and others.
  19. Creative.


Characteristics of an Ineffective Student

  1. Passive, non-questioning, waits to be "spoon-fed".
  2. Does not communicate needs and interests.
  3. Dependent, follower.
  4. Afraid of making mistakes.
  5. Lacks "people skills."
  6. Arrogant.
  7. Concerned about grades rather than the learning process and application.
  8. Insecure.
  9. Does not have basic clinical skills.
  10. Too preoccupied with outside interests.
  11. Negative mind set.
  12. Says "yes" to CI without really processing what is being said
  13. Complains constantly
  14. Does not listen to or hear feedback on patient care.
  15. Whines and blames.
  16. Acts overwhelmed.
  17. Too philosophic or "book knowledge" oriented.
  18. Does not respect other staff members.
  19. Makes an excuse for mistakes or inappropriate behaviors.


These characteristics are adapted from part of a pilot project conducted by the Department of Physical Therapy, at the Medical College of Georgia. Distributed with permission.


What can you do to minimize problems during your clinicals?


  • have your goals written out before going and give them to your CI on Day 1
  • go in with an open mind
  • arrive 10 to 15 minutes early each day
  • use free time well (questioning, reading, notes)
  • observe and see as much as possible
  • documentation when time permits (do at home if no time during the day)
  • ask questions but he careful when asking in front of the patient
  • volunteer to write notes, take new patients, go to the floor to help other PTs
  • call if sick or there is a problem
  • learn how to read people and learn how and when to approach them
  • use breath mints if you are a smoker
  • ask for help or supervision when unsure of yourself


  • know everything
  • leave early on Fridays
  • be late
  • take off for a doctor's appointment unless an emergency
  • dress inappropriately (jeans, tights, low cut shirts, T-shirts etc.)
  • eat or drink in the office while a patient waits
  • do documentation instead of taking a new patient
  • socialize in front of the patients
  • discuss patients in the treatment area when other patients are around
  • chew gum or eat while treating patients


At the end of the clerkship, you should feel comfortable with your examination and documentation skill (with help on the assessment and the goals). You should begin to feel comfortable with developing treatment ideas and making assessments from the deficiencies you found in your examination.

At the end of your internships, you should feel comfortable enough with all aspects of physical therapy to function independently in the clinic. You will know what you do not feel comfortable with and will understand that it is okay. to ask questions of the more experienced staff members when you are unsure of yourself.