Frequently Asked Questions

COVID-19: 

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.

Yes. This may change depending on the trajectory of infections in the Province. Prior to each shift, students are required to complete the BC self-assessment tool and stay home if they feel unwell. All students are required to follow principles of physical distancing. UBC physical therapy students may provide direct patient care for confirmed positive and suspected positive COVID-19 patients under the following conditions:

  • The patient encounter and clinical experience is determined by the supervising health care team to support the student’s development of entry-level physical therapy clinical competencies, and
  • The student is provided all required personal protective equipment (PPE), and
  • The student is supervised by a licensed physical therapist.

Students are able to participate in aerosol generated medical procedures (AGMPs) when deemed by the supervising health care team to be low risk, to support student competency development, with appropriate PPE and under supervision. Should students require N95 masks on placement, the clinical site must provide the N95 and ensure the student has valid Fit Testing for the specific mask model.

Students have the right to refuse unsafe work and must notify their supervisor should they have reasonable cause to believe the task puts them at risk. The process for learners refusing unsafe work is outlined here.

Students are required to complete a self-assessment tool daily before arriving to placement, stay home if they feel unwell or are instructed to do so by the self-assessment, and notify the department (pt.placement@ubc.ca) and the clinical site if they are staying home. If the self-assessment tool directs a student to obtain a COVID-19 test, results of that test should be shared with the department and the clinical site before returning to placement. Students may be required to make up lost time in the placement or in subsequent placements.

Health professional students on clinical placement are expected to be part of Phase 2 of the vaccination implementation schedule as per the Provincial Immunization Plan. Further information regarding eligibility and timing of vaccination roll-out for the health care team on each unit will be provided by the Clinical Program Manager for each Health Authority. Vaccination information is being tracked in a provincial database, and students will receive an immunization certificate. Students may also wish to track their own health records with Health Gateway.

Yes. It is preferred that a significant portion of the placement be in person, which may be supplemented with telehealth. Find ideas on clinical skills that can be taught and assessed via telerehabilitation in Clinical Education Amidst Clinical Challenges.

Students are able to submit special considerations (e.g. immunocompromised family member) as part of each round of placement selections. Preferred placements can not be guaranteed as they often depend of the number and type of placements that are available to select from. The department does however support submitted considerations wherever possible.

 

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 according to the following schedule (subject to change on the rare occasion): 

      • Level 1A: May/June
      • Level 1B: June/July
      • Level 2A: November/December
      • Level 2B: February/March 
      • Level 3A: March/April
      • Level 3B: August/September
      • Out of sequence placements may occur, most likely in September/October

The Department normally receives more offers than there are students, and are 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. 

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

  • Acute: Clients are acutely ill, usually within an acute care facility.
  • Chronic disease management: Clients have ongoing or chronic medical issues.
  • Community health: Care is provided to clients in their homes or home community.
  • Rehabilitation: Clients have complex neurological and/or musculoskeletal issues that require bridging
  • Outpatient: Clients are independent but require physical therapy on an intermittent or regular basis.
  • Elective: May include any of the above or any combination of the above categories.

Additionally, MPT-Vancouver students are required to complete a minimum of two of their six placements outside of the Lower Mainland, and MPT-North students are required to complete a minimum of four of their six 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 who use HSPnet:

  • Tips on how to update your ‘Destination Profile’ in HSPnet can be found here (log into HSPnet prior to clicking the link).
  • Include relevant information in the “Comments” box when adding entries against a Call for Offers.

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 ensures such students have all the necessary requirements to practice as a student in BC and determines the level of training completed. All students on placement in BC must also 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 physical.therapy@ubc.ca and we can forward it 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 registrations with the College of Physical therapists of BC. An interest in helping to develop the next generation of physical therapists is also helpful. 

Students require 180 hours of supervision for over 5 weeks. 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

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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 pt.placement@ubc.ca.

 

Students: 

MPT Vancouver students are required to complete a minimum of 2 of their 6 placements outside of the Lower Mainland. Typically, students can expect to complete one of their required out of town placements during level 1 (either 1A or 1B). 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.

MPT-N students are required to complete 4 of their 6 placements in northern and rural locations. The other two can be anywhere, including the Lower Mainland, northern or rural locations. Note that placements locations will depend on a student's remaining program requirements for various clinical settings and on 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 sets 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 (pt.placement@ubc.ca) 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 pt.educators@ubc.ca.