How to become a Clinical Site or Educator


I never teach my pupils.
I only attempt to provide the conditions in which they can learn.

Albert Einstein


Hilary Crowley with students (Jan 2013)


We have all heard the term “Pay it Forward.” Becoming a Clinical Educator or Clinical Site embodies that volunteerism and commitment to the education of our future Physical Therapists.

During the 26 months of the MPT program students complete a total of 30 weeks of clinical education (six five-week clinical placements) in the following categories: Acute, Chronic Disease Management, Rehab, Community Health, and Outpatient (plus one elective). Students need to complete 180 hours of supervised clinical experience during each placement (placements are based on a 36-hour week).

  • Clinical Sites offer clinical education experiences to Physical Therapy students at their facilities.
  • Clinical Educators, in collaboration with the student, design a learning experience and provide overall supervision and evaluation of a student’s learning.

Read more in this article: Lending a Helping Hand: Mastering the Role of Clinical Preceptor.
(With permission: Physiotherapy Practice. CPA. Congress issue; May 2013: Vol 3, No. 3.)

Becoming a Clinical Site

We welcome clinical sites from both public and private sectors. The most important requirement is to have one or more qualified Physical Therapists who have full registration with the College of Physical Therapists of BC who are willing to act as a Clinical Educator(s) for the student during the placement. Physical space for the student and an adequate caseload so that the student can have as much hands-on experience as possible are also important.

What are the benefits of becoming a Clinical Site?

  • Professional growth for your clinicians.
  • Exposure to new ideas and evidence-based practice.
  • Potential recruitment tool.
  • Increased connection with the Department of Physical Therapy and the UBC community.

For private practice site specifics we encourage checking out our Private Practice Toolkit, a short and informative online module that provides an overview–and answers many questions–about how a private practice clinical site, its clinicians, and patients can benefit from hosting students on placement. We talk about misconceptions, discuss the value-added skills that a student can bring to a practice, review the curriculum and training schedule for our MPT program, show scheduling examples and progression for the student and Clinical Educator, and more! We welcome you to check out our module. Click on the toolkit button to view…

Please check out our Frequently Asked Questions. If you are interested in starting the process to become a clinical site, reach us via the contact information below.

We work with many sites to set up placements where the student is supervised by more than one therapist. and often having more than one Clinical Educator enriches the learning experience for the student. The important thing is that the student has access to a supervisor(s) at all times during the placement and that all supervisors have input into the evaluation. (It is often useful to have one supervisor accept primary responsibility for the student, but this is not mandatory.)

No. In order to be equitable to all students and to ensure that each student has the required varied and comprehensive program of clinical education experience during their program, placement sites are allocated by the department. However, if your area of practice has specific skill requirements (e.g., manual therapy skills) you can choose what level of student you accept.

Please refer to the comprehensive listing "UBC MPT student academic-clinical training per placement" in our Clin Ed webpages.

Usually this is because UBC received more offers than there were students for a particular clinical area. Please note however that UBC continues to have high demand in the clinical placement areas of acute, rehabilitation and chronic disease management and there is always a need for placement offers in those areas!

All student placements in BC (regardless of where the student comes from) must be arranged through UBC, and all students on placement in BC must be registered with the CPTBC. If your site is approached by an international student who wishes to complete a placement in BC, s/he must be directed to contact our Department (see this page).

HSPnet is a province-wide student placement system used by many of the Health Authorities and educational institutions in BC. You do not need to belong to HSPnet to take a student.

There are just four easy steps to becoming a Clinical Site:

  1. Let us know you are interested by contacting us via email.
  2. We will ask you to fill out a Professional Practice Site Profile. It gives us the necessary information about your site in order to create a Student Placement Agreement, or SPA (a legal agreement between your site and UBC).
  3. The AHCE/designate will complete a site visit, when possible.
  4. Sign and return your site’s Student Placement Agreement (see a sample here).
  5. Your site is ready to take a student!!

Becoming a Clinical Educator

Top reasons to be a Clinical Educator

  1. Students bring new ideas and current thinking to your workplace.
  2. Students stimulate your clinical reasoning skills.
  3. Becoming a Clinical Educator enhances your career opportunities and professional development.
  4. Increased connection with the Department of Physical Therapy and the UBC community.
  5. The experience provides an opportunity to share expertise with future colleagues.

What are some benefits of becoming a Clinical Educator?

  • Personal satisfaction.
  • Opportunity for professional development.
  • Exposure to new ideas and evidence-based practice.
  • The potential to become a Clinical Faculty Member.

If you are a private practice physio we know you have might have questions and concerns… Please check out our Private Practice Toolkit, a short and informative online module that provides an overview–and answers many questions–about how a private practice clinician can successfully welcome a student on placement. We talk about misconceptions, discuss supervision options for the busy physio (e.g., sharing a student or working at two sites), show examples of scheduling and provide resource links that give a fresh new view on mentoring an MPT student! We welcome you to check out our module. Click on the toolkit button to view…

Please take a look at out our Frequently Asked Questions. If you are interested in becoming a Clinical Educator, you are welcome to get in touch via the contact information below.

Yes–enthusiasm and an interest in education, plus a desire to help develop the next generation of Physical Therapists! Other than that no formal qualifications are needed except that you must be a qualified Physical Therapist who has full registration with the College of Physical Therapists of BC. You do not need to have a Master’s degree to supervise a student.

Not necessarily. Students do need to complete 180 hours of supervised clinical experience during each placement; however a combination of experience in different clinical areas or with more than one supervisor is welcomed.

It is not a UBC requirement. There are benefits to being a new graduate as you have a better understanding of the challenges of being a student! It is more important that you are comfortable within your clinical area and have some clinical experience within that area. Some facilities have their own policies related to when you may take a student. If you have questions regarding your level of experience, please email the Associate Head, Clinical Education.

Absolutely! The department offers free Clinical Educator Workshops around BC each year (with several in the Lower Mainland each spring and fall), to help physiotherapists prepare for taking a student. Topics covered include:

  • Overview of the MPT Program and the Clinical Education component
  • Planning and organizing the educational experience
  • Providing feedback and evaluating the student
  • Learning styles/Learning theory
  • The student in difficulty

For more info, check out our Workshops page and Calendar.

Yes. We know not everyone can make it to a workshop, so you will find many resource documents and guides (including our Clinical Education Manual) on our Clinical Education webpages.

We are also pleased to offer our EXCEL online learning modules as a complimentary learning resource. The modules offer anytime access to all the information found in our Clinical Ed workshop, and should answer most questions you might have about taking a student. The modules are designed as short (usually 5-15 minutes) e-learning opportunities which you can watch at your leisure. They are also a great resource for finding information/support for specific situations, such as Providing Feedback or Providing Challenge for an Exceptional Student.

Yes, however it is important that the student know prior to starting their placements what their schedule will be, but weekends and evening hours are acceptable.

We recognize that clinical caseloads fluctuate and are often outside the control of the supervising therapist. The student does need to have as much opportunity as possible for “hands on” experience during their placement, so if the student can be reassigned to another clinical area or to another therapist this is the preferred option. However if there are short quiet periods during the day it is very appropriate to discuss with the student what the best “non-direct care” activities might be to fulfill her/his learning objectives.

Prior to the student’s arrival, you will receive information, and part of that is a link to our document "UBC MPT student academic-clinical training per placement." It is an in-depth look at what has been covered in the curriculum to date, and whether this material was taught theoretically or practiced in a lab setting. (View it here)

As well, when the student sends an introductory letter s/he should also provide you with a printout of his/her placement history. You may ask the student for this report.

Most often one student is placed with one Clinical Educator (1:1). In some clinical settings an Educator may have multiple students (2:1 or 3:1, for example), or multiple supervisors may be assigned multiple students (“2:2”). Support is provided by UBC for these “multiple” placement models. Usually, if it is the first time you have taken a student, you will be using the 1:1 model.

I’m interested! How do I sign up?

The first step is to talk to your supervisor to let her/him know you are interested and to obtain support for your role as a Clinical Educator.

  • Many facilities have a designated contact person who liaises with UBC regarding clinical placements; if so, s/he can assist in having a student assigned to you.
  • If there is no designated person, if you are working sole charge, or if your facility has never taken a student before, please contact the Clinical Placement Officer to get the ball rolling!