Students working together on a project

DPT Service Opportunities

From working in student-run clinics to modifying ride-on cars for children with mobility impairments, service opportunities in the Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program offer students the chance to give back to the community and learn while working on real-world solutions.

Service can play an important role in students’ professional development, and DPT students are required to participate in service learning as part of their seminar courses. Service-learning projects involve working with local and/or international community partners.

As an incoming student, you will receive more information about these community-based opportunities at New Student Orientation and can indicate your interest to student leaders.

Adaptive Athletes/Dairyland Games

Offering resources and access to adaptive sports opportunities in Wisconsin, Adaptive Athletes/Dairyland Games promotes and supports adaptive athletes in the pursuit of their individual fitness and athletic goals.

Advancing Diversity and Excellence

Advancing Diversity and Excellence in Physical Therapy (ADEPT) develops and supports pathways to excellence for young people from underrepresented groups in the physical therapy profession. ADEPT fosters a strong community of physical therapy students who are knowledgeable about the experiences of underrepresented peoples and equipped to address health disparities.

Badger Honor Flight

Badger Honor Flight is a regional affiliate of the national Honor Flight Network and ensures that World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War and terminally ill veterans from any war have the opportunity to see the memorials that have been erected in their honor.

Sue Wenker, PT, PhD program director and an associate professor, highlights service opportunities in the University of Wisconsin–Madison Doctor of Physical Therapy program.

Ballroom Basics for Balance

This program provides intergenerational and accessible balance and falls prevention classes by inspiring creative movement experiences that fit into the culture of each community.  Its curriculum is based in the best therapeutic principles of balance and falls prevention.

More about Ballroom Basics for Balance

Doctor of Physical Therapy Student Organization

DPT students smiling at the Race for RehabAll students are encouraged to join and participate in UW–Madison’s Doctor of Physical Therapy  Student Organization (DPTSO). The group’s service, social and fundraising activities include:

  • Outreach activities that help others learn about physical therapy, wellness and prevention
  • Fundraisers including annual clothing and Bucky Book sales, a Bucky Race and massage days
    Social events for new and returning students
  • A “PT Pal” program, in which second-year students help orient first-year students to the program

Global Health Service

According to the World Health Organization, there are an estimated 650 million people with disabilities worldwide, and most live in developing countries with little or no access to rehabilitation. The American Physical Therapy Association encourages members and educators in their efforts to meet global rehabilitation needs.

In past years, DPT students have traveled to Belize, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Peru, and Uganda. Some financial assistance and fundraising opportunities are available for international service-learning experiences.

The Doctor of Physical Therapy program supports global health experiences that:

  • Are of high educational value
  • Will be responsibly implemented with appropriate supervision and structure
  • Offer benefit to both trainee and host site
  • Are ethically sound and culturally appropriate
  • Will allow for prioritization of the safety and welfare of the students


This outreach program that modifies toy ride-on cars for children with mobility impairments is a joint venture of UW physical therapy, occupational therapy and engineering students along with American Family Children's Hospital therapists.

GoBabyGo Facebook page
A child sitting in a toy car

Interprofessional Health Council

The Interprofessional Health Council represents multiple health professions programs and schools looking to engage in academic and non-academic activities. It is a student-led group within the UW Center for Interprofessional Practice and Education.

Legislative Day

DPT students (along with physical therapists in the community and faculty) attend the American Physical Therapy Association- Wisconsin (APTA- WI) annual legislative day at the state capitol in downtown Madison, to speak to Wisconsin State Legislators about issues related to physical therapy.

The Dewane Neurorehabilitative Pro Bono Clinic

The vision for the Doctor of Physical Therapy program’s interprofessional pro bono student clinic is to create a unique and caring environment for treatment of uninsured and underserved patients. The clinic fills a gap in pro bono physical therapy services in the Madison area by allowing students to provide services with faculty oversight.

Facts about the pro bono student clinic:

  • All services are provided free of charge by current students who operate on a 100 percent volunteer basis
  • A high percentage of first- and second-year DPT students volunteer their time to treat clients
  • On average, two to three students are paired with a client on a weekly basis
  • Services focus on neurological rehabilitation such as gait, balance, proprioception and coordination training
  • There is limited space available. Services are available only through scheduled appointments on a first come, first served basis according to need
  • Speech-language pathology students also provide therapy in this clinic
Ethan Taylor, DPT student
On the final day of the [pro bono] clinic, [the patient] was able to walk up the stairs without was an amazing and emotional experience. He motivates me every week and is a reminder of why I began this journey in the first place.

Ethan Taylor, DPT student