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Clinical practice

A student treating an infant with development delay

The Division of Physiotherapy is very fortunate to have the services of eight permanent clinical educators who form an important part of the teaching team. Their participation ensures that theory and practice are well aligned and that students learn in the clinic under the guidance of therapists who are up to date with the latest research and techniques.

The Clinical Sites are varied and each student can expect to spend time treating young and old, patients with respiratory, orthopaedic and neurologic conditions, in hospitals, schools and community centres.

Sites include Groote Schuur and Red Cross Children's Hospital, secondary level hospitals such as Jooste and Somerset, schools for children with disabilities such as Eros and Friends, tertiary level facilities such as Retreat and Woodstock and homes for the elderly such as Monte Rosa and Lotus River.

Students are introduced to the clinic from the second year of study and have to spend a minimum of 1000 hours practicing. In the second year they are required to do a nursing elective and in the final year they are required to spend three weeks in a setting of their choice, provided they are supervised by a physiotherapist. Some student spend this time in rural areas, some go to other African countries or to Europe and others extend their expertise in South African centres of excellence.

During 2nd year students are introduced to clinical sites and practice through weekly group sessions. This exposes students to some key clinical areas- paediatric care; orthopaedics; musculoskeletal and cardiorespiratory care. They are given the opportunity to start problem solving around patients and utilizing their techniques in a clinical setting.

Clinical practice is intensified through the 3rd and 4th years. By the end of this time students need to have met the HPCSA 'S requirements of 1000 clinical hours. In 3rdyears students complete 5 clinical blocks - rotating through the fields of Geriatrics, Paediatrics, Musculoskeletal Out patients and a secondary or Tertiary level Hospital. An in block which includes exposure to the area of Women's Health, community work and time in a skills lab completes the 5 rotations. During this year students work increasingly independently with weekly supervision by a clinical educator. Students are examined at the end of each rotation and the marks are accumulated through the year to provide a final mark for the year.

In 4th year, clinical exposure is increased to include more specialized and tertiary care settings like Intensive Care Units, Trauma, Adult Neurology Units, Mental Health and Burns. Students complete 4 clinical rotations in the year as well as an elective placement in a setting of their choice. Supervision is given to students by qualified clinical educators and marks are awarded at the end of each clinical rotation.