Heading to your first physiotherapy internship?  Follow our tips and tricks to make sure you pass it safely.

CI Vs. Physiotherapist

My name is Aviv, an ESP graduate, Physiotherapist, SEO and social media manager and of course an ESP certified clinical instructor. During the last years of  being a CI, I had the chance to meet those amazing students for an internship, from my first intern Max Dienemann to Jason, Yoko, Monica, Ingrid, Leon, Emily, Hugo, Bita, Anna and my last but for sure not least Adriana (if I have forgotten someone please let me know).
I have learned from them a lot of things and I hope they have learned a few things from me. Above all, I had an amazing experience.
Now, November is coming and many of you will be heading to your physiotherapy internship, either abroad in some remote location or just around the corner here in Amsterdam. I would like to share with you some tips and tricks to really get the most out of your internship, from my point of view as an intern (long time ago ;-)) and as a CI.

Internship Location

Just to be clear it doesn’t matter where you going to do your internship as long as you know what to expect, to avoid misunderstanding that will turn your internship into a nightmare make sure you know where you are going, a physiotherapy internship in India or another exotic location is not the same is the U.K or U.S.A, culture differences, dress code and rules are not the same in every country.

The first-week internship rule

I can tell you from experience, the first week of your internship is the most important one, because after this week you will have an idea of where your internship is going, so make the best out of it and make sure that you and your CI are on the same page. Set your agenda together with your CI, take your time with setting your goals as you might find out that some of the goals are less realistic than you thought before.

You and your CI

The relationship between you and your Clinical Instructor during your physiotherapy internship is very important. You can’t agree on everything – which is fine – but you can trust each other and create a safe environment for your internship.
Physiotherapists are usually pretty cool and easy going people. The profession forces us to be creative and emphatic, but on the other hand, you might end up with a hardcore CI. If that happens just level with him, find common ground and navigate your way through (or around) it.

The assertiveness approach

I always appreciate an assertive student, ie. the students takes risks and finds opportunities. Being assertive is not about knowing how to perform the SLUMP TEST, let’s face it: A Physiotherapy internship isn’t the NASA space program, it’s harder…;-) When a student comes to his internship and is only busy with sitting on a chair and waiting for X-mas to come, that’s not a good thing! Nobody wants you to run like a headless chicken, but I do like it when an intern grabs an opportunity to stand out. This is actually one of the good things I have seen a lot in ESP students as most of them will grab the chance. If a surprise patient comes in, they will not hesitate to go and ask if they can help!

My patient is not a VAS

I had the same thing during my first internship as a student. I was treating or giving advice to patients while communicating with them using medical words and terms.  Let me be clear: you can’t ask your patient to flex his hip if he/she has no idea what is the meaning of flexion! Patients love to be treated like humans and not objects so creating a bond with your patients while knowing to stay a pro is the real deal. I have many patients who have been treated by some of my amazing interns and they still miss them or say how great it was to be treated by them.

Creativity is contagious, pass it on

I didn’t say that 😉 Albert Einstein did and this is one the things I love about physiotherapy, being creative. As an intern, and of course as a physiotherapist, you have to be creative and treating patients with a great variety of specific exercises the moment for you to shine. I always give room for creativity and inspiration, there are no stupid exercises as long as you know what you are doing and which structure you are treating. As one of the less effective and horrifying things to see is a set of boring exercises and lack of creativity. If you want to motivate your patients, you better be creative!

Bullying is not okay. Period.

I hope it won’t happen to any of you but it can! You can’t always get along with your CI or with your internship placement, so it is ok not to agree on a few things but it is not ok to let your CI treat you like garbage. I have always treated my interns like colleagues. Let’s face it, you will spend almost every day and probably the all day with your CI. If you – by any way – feel that you are being bullied by your CI or the other physiotherapists just speak your mind and you will find out soon enough that in most cases your CI is depending on you in the same was as you are depending on him/her so this is your strike point. You can use it to stand out and hold your ground.


Take risks and be responsible for your actions

I think I have said it to one of my interns “Physiotherapy is not launching nuclear missiles” I love interns who take risks, ask questions and challenge me. If I don’t know the answer I will look it up and find the answer. For you as students making mistakes is normal but you have to take the risk and go for it! Remember that with great power comes great responsibly. You will inevitably make mistakes during your internship, but try to take responsibility for those actions, you will be appreciated by doing that, earn respect and above all, you will feel good about it.

Good friends, great conversation and coffee.

One of the best things of being a physiotherapist is coffee… I love it, I drink it and I need it. During your internship, you will get the chance to socialise with your CI and with the rest of the physiotherapy team, mostly over a cup of coffee. Make the best out of it, create new friendships, maybe create opportunities for a future job but above all get the chance to speak your mind and your heart when needed. Be open and free to share everything with your CI (unless he/she is a heartless cold person). I always say “whatever happens in Amsterdam stays in Amsterdam“…

I want to thank you all for hearing me out! I hope I was able to make a few things clearer before you go to your internship. I would love to hear what you think about it and you can always give your feedback or share your good/bad experiences on our Facebook page.


Remember you are not alone, you can always contact me or someone else if you need advice. Stay true to yourself and make the best of your internship!


It’s important to check in advance what the dresscode is of the country and setting you will be in. You can always consider to get a couple of the newly designed ESP internship polo shirts! They are available in white and navy, in different sizes, for men and women and even possible to customize!