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The term “spice of life” describes experiences that enrich/add flavor to our lives and make us more well-rounded. In the Doctor of Physical Therapy program, “SPICE” is an acronym: Senior Partners In Clinical Education. We pair each student in AU’s Doctor of Physical Therapy program with an older adult in the community who will provide the following educational support:

Feedback to the student as they practice clinical skills

Student and SPICE partner

Physical therapy is a “hands-on” profession that teaches students to perform many manual skills such as assessing for muscle soreness, taking heart rate and blood pressure, testing reflexes and sensation, measuring joint range of motion and muscle strength, applying thermal modalities, traction and massage.  The senior partner volunteers serve as simulated patients for students so that they can practice their newly learned clinical skills on an older adult in addition to fellow students.  The SPICE partners provide the students with constructive feedback regarding the clarity of the students’ instructions and explanations, as well as their comfort level when the student is examining them.  Some of our SPICE partners also serve as simulated patients for students’ practical exams. 

Psychological and spiritual support throughout the program

The Doctor of Physical Therapy program has a rigorous curriculum.  Students often attend class from 8:00 a.m. – 5 p.m. and must devote additional hours studying, preparing assignments, and practicing newly learned skills.  The volunteers who participate in this program are adult Christians with a strong faith and a sense of optimism who can encourage and pray for students as they face the challenges and stresses of physical therapy school.

Support throughout the program

Help celebrate our students’ success


The ultimate goal of this program is to celebrate the success of our students. We want our senior partners to be active participants in these joyous occasions as well. Special occasions include the formal presentation of students’ scholarly projects, the bestowing of our blessing as they leave campus for their full-time clinical affiliations, and of course, graduation.



To apply to be a SPICE mentor or for more information, please call (864) 231-2453 or email