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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:

1)  Feedback to the student as they practice clinical skills

Physical therapy is a “hands-on” profession that teaches students to perform many manual skills such as palpating bones, muscles, and tendons; taking a patient history and vital signs; measuring joint motion, muscle strength, and sensation; assessing exercise tolerance; using a stethoscope; teaching exercises and movement skills; applying thermal, mechanical, and electrical devices; massaging and mobilizing tight muscles and joints; training people to use devices such as braces, artificial limbs, walkers, wheelchairs, etc.; and educating people on the prevention or care of physical disabilities. These senior partners are volunteering to be human “guinea pigs” for students who need to practice their newly learned clinical skills on someone other than a fellow student. Students also need these volunteers to provide 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 senior partners may also serve as simulated patients for students’ practical exams.

2)  Psychological and spiritual support throughout the program

The Doctor of Physical Therapy program has an extremely intense and rigorous curriculum. Students often attend class 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. and must devote additional hours studying, preparing assignments, and practicing newly learned skills. There is little time for anything else. The volunteers who participate in this program are Christians with a strong faith and sense of optimism who can encourage and pray for students as they struggle with the challenges and stresses of physical therapy school.

3)  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)622-6084 or email