Examining Clinical Readiness and Performance of Students on Clinical Education Experiences: Is There an Influence From Virtual Learning?

Laurie Neely, Patrick Pabian, Ashleigh Jo Darby, Milica Tintor, Seher Vatansever, Matt Stock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction. Peer simulation is a mechanism to enhance clinical reasoning and determine clinic readiness of Doctor of Physical Therapy students. In 2020, coursework that was traditionally face-to-face (F2F) was conducted completely online at many universities. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to examine if students who completed a stand-alone virtual simulation course presented with the same readiness and performance on their first full-time clinical education experience (CEE) as compared with students who completed the course during the previous 2 years in the traditional F2F format. Review of Literature. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, literature focused on virtual learning explored hybrid methods of delivering physical therapy education. There are limited studies exploring the impact of virtual learning on clinical performance of DPT students. Subjects. One hundred eight students completed their first full-time CEE during this 3-year period, with 34 having a virtual preparation and 74 having F2F coursework. Twelve of the clinical instructors (CIs) who had supervised students both virtually and in the previous 2 years were included in survey data analysis to compare cohorts. Methods. This study used final Clinical Performance Instrument (CPI) data to compare objective ratings of student performance from CIs as well as a standardized survey of student clinical readiness based on 22 items previously published. Both instruments were used to compare students from the class of 2022 (virtual cohort) to those from the previous 2 years (F2F cohort). Independent sample t tests were used to examine group differences in perceptions of student readiness and CPI data for compiled professional practice and patient management constructs. Results. Clinical Performance Instrument data revealed lower mean scores of students in all areas of performance in the virtual cohort as compared with F2F, but none of the differences reached statistical significance. For the clinical readiness survey, CIs rated students from the virtual cohort lower than prior students in overall readiness, as well as psychomotor, cognitive, and affective skill domains, including safety and accountability. However, none of the mean score differences reached statistical significance. Discussion and Conclusion. Although there was no statistical difference in scores on the CPI or perception of clinic readiness by CIs, students from the virtual cohort consistently scored lower on both instruments. Transition of students from F2F coursework for psychomotor skills to virtual formats should transpire with caution. As students transition back to traditional learning environments, programs should evaluate the effectiveness of various teaching methods to ensure excellence in physical therapist education.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)277-282
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Physical Therapy Education
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Journal of Physical Therapy Education. All right reserved.


  • Clinic readiness
  • Physical therapy education
  • Physical therapy students
  • Virtual learning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy
  • Rehabilitation
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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