5 Tips for PT Student Observation Hours

If you’re pre-physical therapy, most schools require you to complete a certain number of observation hours before you apply. If you’re a student observer, these tips are for you.

Being a physical therapist now, I have a greater appreciation of what things a pre-PT student should/shouldn’t do while shadowing. 

  • 𝐃𝐫𝐞𝐬𝐬 𝐩𝐫𝐨𝐟𝐞𝐬𝐬𝐢𝐨𝐧𝐚𝐥𝐥𝐲. It’s better to be overdressed than underdressed.⁣ 
    • Don’t wear jeans and converse.
  • 𝐂𝐡𝐞𝐜𝐤 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝒓𝒆𝒔𝒑𝒐𝒏𝒅 𝐭𝐨 𝐞𝐦𝐚𝐢𝐥𝐬. Communicate with the PT you’re working with. ⁣
    • Check your email to see if there are schedule updates and let your PT know in advance if you’re not able to come in.
  • 𝐓𝐚𝐤𝐞 𝐧𝐨𝐭𝐞𝐬 𝐝𝐮𝐫𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐬𝐞𝐬𝐬𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝒂𝒔𝒌 𝒍𝒂𝒕𝒆𝒓. Save questions for later to avoid interrupting the flow and taking away from the patient’s time/care.⁣
    • Comments like, “Is that supposed to be like that?” is not helpful. 
  • 𝐓𝐡𝐚𝐧𝐤 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐏𝐓. Thank them for giving me the opportunity to shadow. Realize they don’t get paid more to take you on and they’re doing them to help you out. This PT may also be a resource for a letter of recommendation in the future.⁣
    • A thank you card goes a long way.
  • 𝐋𝐨𝐠 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐡𝐨𝐮𝐫𝐬. Keep track of the name of the location, the names of the people you work with and their roles (easy to forget), and location/phone number/email so it’s easy to add to PTCAS.

This is an opportunity to solidify your passion and career choice. Observe in different settings and ask the staff how they enjoy their roles (PT, PTA, PT Aide, etc.).

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