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Journey of a DPT Student

PT Clinical In-Service

Published November 28, 2011 4:55 PM by Lauren Rosso

Before I left clinical on Thursday, I got the surprise news from my CI that I was going to have to complete an in-service before I leave the rotation. The problem is that I am done at that site in two weeks. We had talked about it earlier in the semester and he didn't originally think I would have to complete one, but I guess one of his supervisors told him that it was required. So now I have to dream up something to present to the clinic, and have it done before next Tuesday.

I can't be the first person to feel completely ridiculous about presenting at an in-service. I just can't imagine what topic I could possibly choose that will, first of all, not bore everyone to death, and second will provide them with some sort of new or useful information. At this point in my academic career, I have such a limited knowledge base, so it's intimidating to stand in front of practicing PTs and present clinical findings for a patient case that I have seen once or twice, at best.

Does anyone have suggestions? What topic would provide the best "refresher" for you? Or if you're a student, have you found a way to make the in-service more interesting? I'm pretty desperate for ideas right now, so anything will be helpful.


I found this blog while trying to find an inservice topic of my own. I've looked into SFMA and it sounds interesting, and my CI has shown interest. However, I haven't been able to find enough information to complete a presentation on and know what I'm talking about it. Those who mentioned SFMA here, where did you find enough information to complete a presentation about it? If you have any or know of where to obtain it, please share if you don't mind.  I'd appreciate any help because I've been looking high and low for anything substantial.  Thank you!

Kari , SPT November 20, 2012 10:16 PM
Rochester NY


The more I hear, the more I realize that "booky" topics aren't really the way to go.  I like the idea of the SFMA, and even the SBAR that Dean previously mentioned.  They seem like much more useful topics to address in an inservice.

Good luck with your last few weeks!  And with job hunting.  Congratulations.


Lauren Rosso March 29, 2012 7:38 AM

I am in my last year as a DPT student and, in fact, six weeks exactly away from graduation, so during my clinical affiliations during the last three years I have given 4 in-service presentations.  The last two in-services I presented I had the most success with because they weren't as "booky" as my previous two.  

One presentation was on the SFMA (Selective Functional Movement Exam).  This is a pretty quick and dirty screening tool to use in the clinic, particularly outpatient sports.  I had a lot of positive feedback after presenting this topic and most of the presentation time was spent practicing on each other, so that means less time standing up with all eyes on you!  

My last in-service was on rocker bottom shoes or "tone-ups" in layman's terms.  I reviewed the most recent research based evidence on these types of shoes and was able to present some clinical application ideas based on the research.  My CI appreciated this because she felt like she finally had a solid answer for, "I just bought these $150 tone-ups, should I keep wearing them?".

I know this is too late for the in-service you originally posted this for, but hopefully this will help in the future!  Good luck with the rest of your career as a student!

Elisha, Physical Therapy - Student, East Carolina University March 23, 2012 8:10 PM
Greenville NC

I'm with Janey on this one (If you don't decide to go with the Achilles Tendonitis). SBAR (Situation Background Assessment Recommendation) is a great communication device that works particularly well when dealing with physicians. It could be very beneficial to all.

If not this one, the next one. There will be more. I'm sure you'll do well but good luck anyway!

Cheers, Dean

Dean Metz December 1, 2011 5:14 PM

I did an inservice during my rotation at Stanford on reading EKG because I had a Cardia rehab rotation.  It was something I was comfortable with and that the therapists really did not know much about.  It was nerve racking but good.  Good luch to you.

Dana Wilcox, Physical Therapist December 1, 2011 12:45 PM

Sometimes I think this blog is the best things I've ever decided to do!  So much useful advice.  As much as I wish I didn't have to do the inservice, I realize that it's an important learning opportunity for a lot of different reasons. I want the topic to be relevant to our patients, something for which I can provide current evidence, and something that I don't know much about.   I'm leading toward Achilles Tendinitis right now, however I'm not set on it.  

Thanks again for all of your advice!  I'll let you know what I decide.  

Lauren Rosso November 30, 2011 11:32 PM

I think Liliya was giving you a rationale for why the inservice was a good idea when she mentioned good communication skills, but that is actually an excellent topic.  Interpersonal communication in the workplace is an area that is often scant in the actual PT programs and something that often isn't emphasized on the job.  I've seen clinicians who were highly intellectual and had all of their clinical skills down pat, but still struggled with patient interactions or communication between colleagues.

The most important aspect of choosing a topic is one you are comfortable with and if possible feel passionate about.

Good luck!  Let us know how it goes!

Jane Goude November 30, 2011 4:10 PM

that's BOOST!!!! :) there will be no "boos" during your presentation, I'm sure!

Liliya n November 30, 2011 12:20 PM

Great communication skills are a part of job requirement for physical therapists. Presenting an inservice to your colleagues will enhance your public speaking abilities and boos your confidence. I suggest you do a mini survey at the office to find out which topics will interest therapists at your site. Best of luck!

Liliya N November 30, 2011 11:09 AM

We always have more to learn no matter how long we have been in the field. You could pick a topic of interest to you or a common dx at your site and research this. There is so much information online. Your CI realizes you are a student and learning, look at this as a learning experience for you to gain more knowledge and perhaps teach others also. You could also perhaps make it an interactive discussion to reduce stress. I hope this helps.

Carol, CPTA November 30, 2011 8:50 AM
Denver CO

This must be a right of passage thing for CI's and students.  After putting some students through the inservice routine I have decided it was not a good idea unless the school specifically asks for it.  

Maybe it is me but I think there are more constructive things to do with a student, like actively participating in the care of patients.

Jason Marketti November 29, 2011 10:04 PM

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