How students complete courses that require hands-on training

University of Dayton graduate students return to campus for accelerated 'boot camp' in physical therapy
By: | May 28, 2020
A University of Dayton graduate student practices stabilizing another student's knee in an accelerated physical therapy 'boot camp' being held on campus this spring.A University of Dayton graduate student practices stabilizing another student's knee in an accelerated physical therapy 'boot camp' being held on campus this spring.

University of Dayton’s process for brining physical therapy students back to campus this spring offers some guidance for other colleges and universities striving to hold in-person classes later this year.

About 60 Dayton graduate students returned to campus on May 18 for an accelerated “boot camp” to learn skills needed to move on to internships and clinical rotations, says Philip A. Anloague, an associate professor and chair of the university’s Department of Physical Therapy.

When the campus closed in March, physical therapy instructors were able to shift much of the course online with videos and other content.

Students, however, need to be in a classroom to learn to stabilize a knee or manipulate a spine safely and correctly.


More from UB: How one community college is completing spring courses in-person


It also requires students to place their hands on each other, Anloague says.

“They needed guidance to understand hand placement and the direction and the amount of force they’re introducing,” he says. “We need to make sure they are safe and effective to send them out to clinics to work with real clients.”

The university also wanted the students to finish to provide some relief to health care workers on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic. “While our students won’t be experienced clinicians, they can help alleviate some of the stress on our colleagues who are going through the grind out there,” Anloague says. 

Of course, preventing the transmission of COVID-19 was the priority, and Dayton’s procedures can be replicated by other campuses as students return to courses—including the performing arts—that require physical proximity.

First, students were asked to self-quarantine for two weeks before they returned to campus. During the boot camp, students have been logging their temperatures and checking for symptoms daily.

Students are assigned both a time to enter the building and a dedicated lab area. They are required to wear masks, face shields, gloves and other PPE when necessary.

Treatment tables have been placed six feet apart and the course has been spread out into additional classrooms.

Dayton University physical therapy students working in small groups are completing their training on campus this spring so they can move on to internships and clinical work.

University of Dayton physical therapy students working in small groups are completing their training on campus this spring so they can move on to internships and clinical work.

The classes are also divided into morning and afternoon sessions, between which the classrooms are given a deep cleaning.

Instructors also had to fine-tune the curriculum to focus on the essentials in the accelerated course, Anloague says.

“Faculty determined what students need to know vs. what’s nice to know and aimed for somewhere in the middle,” Anloauge says.


UB’s coronavirus page offers complete coverage of the impacts on higher ed.