Published on February 1, 2023 by Eric Holsomback  
Experiential learning (ExL): learning through reflection on doing
The Department of Physical Therapy offers experiential learning throughout each student’s academic career. Whether it is through Cahaba Medical Care or our on-campus Summer PT Clinic, each experience allows our students to practice on real patients what they’re learning in the classroom.

The on-campus PT Clinic is offered throughout the summer. It is supervised by a PT faculty member and is specifically designed for our first-year and third-year students. The first-year students receive first-hand experience with interviewing patients and performing tests and measures starting two weeks after they begin school. Our third-year students get to put their knowledge and skills to the test before heading out for their clinical internships.

“It was a great opportunity to apply the concepts that we were learning in class. It also gave us more confidence to work with real patients rather than just practicing skills with my classmates. It was also fun to learn things that we’re going to be using every day as PTs rather than learning concepts just for a test,” said Katelyn McClure, class of 2025.

For our second-year students, they have been providing pro-bono physical therapy services to Cahaba Medical Care since January 2021. Students see patients for three consecutive semesters while being aided by two PT faculty members to be supervised and helped when needed. They are responsible for providing patient care and overseeing the clinic’s administrative needs. The students have approximately 1300 patient visits each year.

Scott Bickel, Professor, Director of Scholarship and Service, Director of Office for Faith and Health, said “It’s been incredible to watch patients’ lives change and simultaneously watch students learn to utilize their calling to serve others.” 
Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.