Frequently Asked Questions

Clinical Sites: 

Student supervision can be shared among two (or in rare cases, three) Clinical Educators, as long as the student has access to a supervisor at all times during the placement. Multiple educators may in fact enrich the learning experience. One educator often accepts primary responsibility for supervision. 

No. Placement decisions are made by the Department to ensure that students are able to complete all program requirements. To assist with making the most appropriate match, sites should describe in their placement offer the type of learning experiences that students will encounter. 

Students are first exposed to clinical practice during a shadow placement in October/November of their first year. They then progress through six 5-week placements April/May 

  • Level 2A: November/December 
  • Level 2B: February/March  
  • Level 3A: May/June 
  • Level 3B: September/October 
  • Out of sequence placements may occur, most likely in September/October 

The Department normally receives more offers than there are students and is therefore unable to fill all offers. We recognize and are appreciative of the effort that goes into making an offer. Every attempt is made to account for previously declined offers in our matching process. Within 2-3 weeks of the selection process, any sites with unfilled offers will be alerted. Often, we will check in with sites to consider whether they might be amenable to filling an unused offer with a student from another Canadian or international institution. 

UBC MPT students are required to complete minimum hours in cardiorespiratory, musculoskeletal, and neurological practice areas, across five placements that address the following patient care needs: 

Acute/Hospital Care ACU/HOSP): Physiotherapy care, as part of an Interprofessional team, provided for patients during an acute illness, an acute exacerbation or a surgical intervention which necessitates admission to an acute care facility.  

Rehabilitation or Community Care (RHB/COM): Physiotherapy care, as part of an interprofessional team, provided for a patient to maximize functional independence. Typically following the diagnosis of a new condition, an injury leading to a disability, an acute illness or surgical intervention and/or the progression of a chronic condition. Rehabilitation or community care could be provided within a rehabilitation hospital/unit, clinic, homecare, schools, etc.  

Ambulatory Care or Private Practice (AMB/PRIV): Physiotherapy care, as a sole physiotherapy service or as part of an interprofessional team, for a patient who lives in the community and attends physiotherapy as an out-patient. This care could be provided at private or public physiotherapy clinics, work sites, etc.  

Additionally, MPT-Vancouver students are required to complete a minimum of two of their five placements outside of the Lower Mainland, and MPT-North students are required to complete a minimum of three of their five placements in northern and/or rural locations. 

A single placement may address many of the above requirements. Sites may choose to inform students of how a placement might fulfill the above needs within the placement offer details. 

Students inform the Department of their top five preferences from all available placement offers. Clinical sites can provide interesting information about their placements to help solicit preference selections. This information may include, for example, details about how the placement will fulfill program requirements (e.g. number of expected cardiorespiratory, musculoskeletal, and/or neurological hours). It may also include information about the expected patient population and practice setting. 

Clinical Sites that use HSPnet: 

Ensure your “destinations” are up to date, and that comments for an offer provide as much detail as possible. 

Clinical Sites who submit offers via the UBC DPT webform can include relevant information in the “placement area” and “comments” fields. 

All student placements in BC (regardless of where the student comes from) are arranged through UBC. The Department confirms placement eligibility, and provides students with a confirmation letter required for student licensure. All students on placement in BC must be registered with the College of Physical Therapists of BC. If your site is approached by any non-UBC student who wishes to complete a placement in BC, direct them to contact the Department (see this page). 

The department does not play a role in recruitment. If you wish to share job postings with recent graduates, please email them to and we can forward them to the Physical Therapy Student Society.

Note that placements are not the right forum for recruitment. Students on placement need to focus on building entry-to-practice knowledge and skills. Recruitment efforts should be reserved for after graduation.

The Health Sciences Placement Network (HSPnet) is a web-based system used by BC Health Authorities to coordinate and track student placements. Sites can make placement offers through the system and the Department then uses the system to match students to all available offers. Although not required, it is preferred that sites use HSPnet. If that is not possible, the Department can provide instructions on how to submit placement offers outside of HSPnet. 

Clinical Educators: 

Clinical educators are required to be qualified Physical Therapists with full, unrestricted registrations with the College of Health and Care Professionals of BC (formerly the College of Physical Therapists of BC). An interest in helping to develop the next generation of physical therapists is also helpful. 

Students require 187.5 hours of supervision for over 5 weeks (37.5 hours per week). Part-time clinicians are able to share supervisory responsibilities with another clinician in order to fulfill this time requirement. When informing the Department of your placement offer, please provide details of any irregular hours so that we can inform students.  

There are no specific requirements for length of experience prior to supervising students on placement. It is important that you are confident and comfortable with your clinical area of focus and have accumulated some amount of clinical experience. Please check with your employer in case your facility has site-specific requirements. 

Please see the following link for information on the Department’s Clinical Education Manual, clinical education workshops, e-learning modules related to clinical education, the Private Practice Toolkit, and additional resources: Clinical Educator Professional Development

We recognize that clinical caseloads fluctuate and are often outside the control of the supervising therapist. Students require as much “hands-on” experience as possible during their placement, and so, reassigning them to another clinical area or to another therapist is preferred. During short periods of non-patient time, it is appropriate to discuss “non-direct care” activities that might be used to fulfill specified learning objectives.

Students send an introductory letter and a summary of their placement history to their clinical educators prior to the placement start date. A detailed description of the coursework completed and expected capacities for each placement level can be found here: Students' Clinical Skills 


Most placements include one student and one clinical educator, a 1:1 placement model. In the case of a 2:1 or 3:1 (etc.) placement model, a clinical educator supervises multiple students. First-time preceptors will often begin with a 1:1 placement. 

There are a variety of reference materials and resources related to supervising a student available here. If difficulties are encountered during a placement, clinical educators can contact the department at Sites will also be provided with a primary contact within the DPT faculty in advance of each placement. 


MPT Vancouver students are required to complete a minimum of 2 of their 5 placements outside of the Lower Mainland. Students are able to inform the department of any special considerations during the placement selection process, including a desire for out-of-town placement. These will be considered as much as possible, alongside considerations around remaining unfulfilled requirements for placement types and treatment experience. 

Placement categories are dependent upon the types of learning experiences that a student encounters while on placement. When a placement experience can fulfill more than one practice setting, then the department can identify which category will apply to that specific placement, in consultation with the student. This allows for some amount of flexibility in planning for the types of settings that are utilized later in the MPT program. 

Distributed students are required to complete 3 of their 5 placements in their cohort regions. The other two can be anywhere, including the Lower Mainland. Note that placement locations will depend on a student's remaining program requirements for various clinical settings and on the availability of various placement types. 

Students can complete a maximum of two private practice placements throughout the MPT program, and a maximum of two pediatric placements. This will depend on availability and so some students will likely not complete two of either.

When a vehicle is required for a placement, the placement site or the MPT admin team can set an alert in HSPnet that students will see as a red bell icon beside the green exclamation mark. Home Health is usually the only placement where students require a vehicle. Other placements that involve travel between sites may offer students a choice between traveling together with their clinical instructors or using their own car. 

The department is responsible for assigning placements to students. Although every effort is made to match students to preferred options, the department's priority is ensuring that all students complete all remaining program requirements. Given the available placement options, this priority often takes precedence. Students can expect to be unmatched with their indicated placement preferences at least once, often many times, through the duration of the program. When unmatched, the department will seek an alternative in the preferred geographic location. Note that the potential for a match to a preferred placement is increased when fewer students selected the same placement as a preference.

The majority of academic course work will fall outside of placement blocks. Placements involve intensive learning and require significant effort and reflection. Students will not have time for taking on other commitments (e.g. jobs, volunteering, non-MPT courses, etc.).

Conflicts of interest may arise: if a student has been treated at a site or by a clinical educator before; if a student is related to, has been employed by, or has volunteered for a site or someone working or being treated at a site; or has treated a client in the past. There may be other situations where conflicts of interest arise. It is best to contact the department ( with the details of any potential conflict of interest as soon as you are able.

HSPnet is an online platform used to coordinate placements with clinical sites, and to submit evaluations of those placements. The Student Practice Education Core Orientation (SPECO) is a BC Health Authority requirement which includes a checklist of items that need to be completed prior to any clinical practice experience. The Health Authority required modules are completed in the Learning Hub, an online e-learning platform. Some of these modules are listed in the SPECO checklist. Confirmation of completed items on the SPECO checklist should be submitted to the program by submitting PDF copies to Canvas ‘assignments’.

Students can apply for one international placement during one of their final three placements in the program or an out of province placements during Level 2 or Level 3. Students will be required to complete an application process and pay an application fee. Allow a minimum of 6 months prior to the placement date for the application process. See the Clinical Education Manual for more information. Students who are interested in this option are asked to email


The UBC Master of Physical Therapy program and students follow guidance from the BC Centre for Disease Control (CDC), Provincial Health Authority, regional health authorities, and the College of Physical Therapists of BC. Students are currently able to attend clinical placements as usual, with additional requirements for infection risk reduction. 

When there are cases of COVID-19 within the clinical site during the student’s clinical placement, the student is to follow the guidelines outlined by the site, health authority and continue to follow guidelines and regulations from the BC CDC, Provincial Health Authority, and the College of Physical Therapists of BC. The BC Practice Education COVID-19 Response Resources for Student Education page provides additional resources. 

Students are required to stay home if they feel unwell, and notify the department ( and the clinical site if they are staying home. Students may be required to make up lost time in the placement or in subsequent placements.