The clinical education experience of physical therapist students during the COVID-19 pandemic: a phenomenological study

Main Article Content

Michelle L. Donahue
Ruth Lyons Hansen
Dennise Krencicki
Christine Schaub


Purpose: The purpose of this study was to explore the lived experience of physical therapist (PT) students participating in clinical education (CE) experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Methods: This qualitative study used an interpretive phenomenological analysis to explore the lived experiences of entry-level PT students enrolled in New York (NY) and New Jersey (NJ) PT educational programs in an effort to understand the unique experience of completing full-time CE experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic. Twelve students from accredited programs in New York and New Jersey who participated in a full-time CE experience during the COVID-19 pandemic were interviewed.

Results: Four themes emerged: disruption in their academic education, altered CE experiences, emotional responses to these unanticipated disruptions, and their ability to adapt to these changes.

Conclusion: The COVID-19 pandemic was an exceptionally disruptive experience. However, with support, understanding, and encouragement, students adapted to the disruptions created by this unpredictable clinical environment.


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Article Details

Clinical Education, COVID-19, Physical Therapist Education, Adaptability
Original Research Articles
How to Cite
Donahue , M. L., Lyons Hansen, R., Krencicki, D. ., & Schaub, C. (2023). The clinical education experience of physical therapist students during the COVID-19 pandemic: a phenomenological study. The Journal of Clinical Education in Physical Therapy, 5.