Merida 1Service learning is “a method under which students learn and develop through active participation in thoughtfully organized service experiences that meet actual community needs, that are integrated into the student’s academic curriculum or provide structured time for reflection, and that enhance what is taught in school by extending student learning beyond the classroom and into the community” (Cauley K, et al. Service learning: integrating student learning and community service. Education for Health; 2001;14 (2):173-181.). The goal of the service learning program is to provide OSU DPT students with a combination of community and professional service opportunities that will enhance their DPT education and foster values consistent with the APTA’s core values.

What is Service Learning?

  • The Intentional integration of service and learning where students learn and develop outcomes and where community needs are addressed
  • There must be reciprocal benefit to the student and the community

Goals of Service learning

  • Create a symbiotic relationship between educational institutions and their communities
  • Provide students the best possible education and lifelong community service ethics

Each 1st and 2nd year DPT student must satisfactorily complete the service learning requirements. All students are required to serve 15 hours per year providing direct service.  Over the course of the year every student will:

1. Sign up for a primary service learning group.
2. Meet with the faculty advisor for the group to learn of the group’s requirements and establish written group goals and a plan for the year, which must be approved by the faculty adviser.
3. Provide direct services according to the agreed upon plan.
4. Help write a group report to assess the outcome of the group’s activities at the end of the year.
5. Write an individual reflection documenting all service learning for the year, including service to the group as well as any additional service. 


Service Learning Groups

Student Run Clinic

The Ohio State University Student Therapy Clinic

Student ClinicThe Ohio State University Student Therapy Clinic is a full-service clinic, offering physical therapy services to uninsured and underinsured residents of Central Ohio free of charge. Services include a free examination and diagnosis, as well as the development of a personalized treatment plan to address impairments and limitations of neuromuscular, musculoskeletal and cardiovascular systems. All physical therapy services are provided by graduate students in the Doctorate of Physical Therapy (DPT) Program at The Ohio State University, under the supervision of licensed physical therapists. The clinic is co-sponsored by Primary One Health and The Ohio State University Physical Therapy Program.


Ohio State Student Therapy Clinic Website

International Service Opportunities

International Service Learning: Yucatan, Mexico

Merida 2Each Fall Semester, DPT students embark on an unforgettable service learning course to Yucatan, Mexico. The first-of-its-kind elective course for Ohio State DPT students is supported by faculty members Anne Kloos, PT, PhD, NCS and Laura Schmitt, PT, DPT, PhD and other physical therapists who serve as clinical instructors.

The faculty and students work in a variety of locations in the city of Merida, including a school for children with multiple disabilities, nursing homes, a rural rehabilitation clinic, a residential facility for people with disabilities and private homes. They provide services to local residents, which include individualized consultations, screenings, evaluations and treatments.

One of the participants in the program, Kayla Francis, had nothing but good things to say about her experience. “This trip provided the opportunity to fully use the skills I had learned in PT school and helped me to realize the true potential that lies in our profession,” said Francis. “I helped a 33-year-old patient walk for the first time in years, an experience I will never forget. We fixed numerous wheelchairs and provided extensive education to site staff on proper positioning of patients, as many were immobile. This service learning trip allowed my classmates and I to create an ongoing impact in a community with much need.” 

While visiting Merida, the DPT students also have an opportunity to experience the culture. During the past trips they have visited the Mayan ruins, shopped in the el Centro, and visited a wetland reserve that is home to vast flocks of flamingoes.

This elective course, HRS 7700S, will be offered each Fall to third year students who successfully completed all the didactic and clinical work preceding the trip. Interested second year students will receive details pertaining to course application, course requirements and travel during the Fall Semester of their second year approximately two weeks prior to the course application deadline. Second year students will be informed of course acceptance approximately two weeks after the application deadline. Enrollment for this course is limited to 12 students.

More information about the trip can be found on Merida Service Learning Presentation.

For additional information, please contact Anne Kloos, PT, PhD, NCS at