PTCAS Personal Statement Prompt 2021-2022

If you're applying for a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) Program for the 2021-2022 cycle, you're in the right place.

This year's prompt matches last year's prompt which is:

Every person has a story that has led them to a career. Since there are a variety of health professions that “help” others, please go beyond your initial interaction or experience with physical therapy, and share the deeper story that has confirmed your decision to specifically pursue physical therapy as your career.

This is an elaborate way of asking... Why physical therapy? Why PT above all other health professions?

If your answer is simply, "because I want to help people," I'm going to be the one to tell you that you're going to need to dig a lot deeper than that. The prompt literally asks for a deeper story.

You don't have to have been a patient in PT to want to apply to PT school. I hadn't been a patient myself before I applied to school. Through observation hours and more, I found my calling in PT. I share my "PT why" in my personal statement for the 2013-2014 cycle here.

If you're finding yourself scrambled on how to write your essay or even how to start, a coaching call may be the best option for you. I've helped several pre-PT, pre-OT, pre-PA, and pre-med, students with their personal statements, and they've successfully been accepted. I specialize in finding the deeper WHY and making sure the writer is showing, not telling. 

If you've already have what you think is a close-to-final draft, I also provide consults to go over the essay with an unbiased view and help you bring in an emotional touch to your story to captivate the reader. I had a less than ideal application and I believe my personal statement helped me stand out. Read more about my less-than-ideal application here.

Good luck to all of those applying! And follow @clinicalsprinkles on Instagram for more application tips and learning about the life of an outpatient ortho PT.

Should I take a gap year?

It depends… The cliche PT answer but is applicable to answer this question. I’ll share what I did and why. Then we’ll compare and contrast each option.

I did NOT take a gap year. I applied for PT school in my last year of undergraduate college in the midst of being a full-time student and part-time worker. It was hard to fit in my 100+ hours of observation but I was able to meet the minimum threshold (I applied with less than 200 hours total).

The reason I did not want to take a gap year is that I have the personality type that is go-go-go. I had the steps in my life planned out: finish college, finish DPT school, get married, buy a house, then start a family. I didn’t want to be held back by time (a whole year) for that to happen. I figured I wouldn’t know what to do with myself for that year if I wasn’t in school.

In hindsight, I realize I could have collected more observation hours (and not feel rushed) and work for a full year to save up money for school. After getting into PT school, many of the students had worked as a PT aide and had insight into what life looked like in the clinic for a PT. They also had more background and experience with therapeutic exercise. So in the “gap year” that I didn’t take, I could have worked as an aide, made money, saved for living expenses for school so I could ultimately take out less in loans.

Do I regret my decision? Absolutely not. If I were to give advice to someone, it would be to weigh out what’s most important to you and what fits your situation best, because it truly depends.

PT School Interview Tips ✨👩🏻‍💼

🎬  Know where you want to sit for the interview (if virtual) – be mindful of what’s behind you and in view of the camera
🙊  Minimize background noises – tell everyone in the house what you’re doing to minimize background noises
🤳  Clean the camera – wipe the lens of the camera so you’re presented clean/clear (don’t be 𝒕𝒉𝒆 blurry candidate)

🗣️  Look up practice interview questions and think, write, and practice out loud your answers
🎥  If you’re really feeling up to it, record yourself talking, watch your facial expressions and count how many “ums” you do

🧐  The school – know their key philosophies and their program strengths
🚶🏻‍♀️ The campus life – tour the school if you can
📚  Resources – know what resources are available to students
🤷🏻‍♀️  Whatever you don’t find, save for questions to ask at the end of the interview

🤐  If it’s a group interview, take turns. Don’t always be the first to talk.
🙏🏼  Thank the interviewer for their time, express gratitude for the opportunity to interview – more than “thank you!”
📧  If you can write the interviewer’s full name down after the interview, you can send a follow-up email to thank them

Follow my Instagram to continue to learn more tips about getting into PT school and follow my journey as a PT.

Differences between a PT and PTA

I have been a physical therapist (PT) for 4 years so far and honestly, I didn’t know about physical therapist assistants (PTA) until I started my observation hours and I had already decided to pursue a career in PT.

Now that I’ve worked closely with PTAs and can compare our jobs, I created a list of the differences between a PT and PTA in the table listed below.

*The numbers are a generalization as it varies greatly between schools and regions. This is more of a representation of the difference between the two options.

Although I would love to have WAY FEWER student loans, I am too curious to not be a PT because it provides me a set of tools and knowledge to assess and diagnose conditions. Also being able to dictate a plan of care for patients and problem solve through differences in individuals or changes in POC feeds my mind. 

I am happy with my decision to be a PT and I wouldn’t change it if I were to go back. I’d just tell myself to be a little smarter with spending, saving, and taking out less in loans.

12 Essential Supplies To Improve Study Sessions

I created a list of my study essentials for physical therapy school. Things to motivate me, keep me in the zone, and more. Check out the list below and click the photo to follow the links to purchase.

Set yourself up for success by studying with these essentials.

Sharpie Highlighters – these are the best brand I’ve tried that also doesn’t bleed through the paper, doesn’t smear, and is retractable


Earplugs – great for studying to zone out and for test-taking. It bothers me when people are moving around and making noises during tests, so it’s helpful to use earplugs (if the professor allows).


Flags – great for bookmarking in textbooks to refer back to (ie. yellow = important, pink = to memorize, green = where you left off).


Planner Stickers – liven up your planner with fun and colorful stickers. Makes it much more fun and enjoyable to look at the week and keep track of your tasks.


Whiteboard (24” x 36”) – taking notes and a strategy to memorize information! It helped me a ton to write things out but with limited access to study rooms on campus, have your own whiteboard at home.


Dry Erase Markers – what good is a whiteboard without the best markers?



Post-it Notes – a way to keep track of reminders, tasks, or important things to remember


Colored Pens – I have always had a “thing” for pens. Every time we walk past a pen wall at a store, I am drawn to it and my husband gives me a big eye roll. So I couldn’t choose just one! Here are my favorites for different reasons. 

Fine tip recommendation (0.5 mm)


Smooth and thick tip (1.4 mm) 


Gel pen (1.0 mm)


Notecards – to make flashcards to study with


Laser Printer – Ok. This is a pricey item but let me tell you why this is a smart purchase. This printer prints double-sided (saves paper) and toner are less expensive per page than inkjet. So be prepared that refills are expensive but you don’t have to refill as often as an inkjet. If you like to study off printed lecture slides as much as me, this is worth it.

Good luck with your studies! Don’t be afraid to change up your study group a couple of times to find out the best team that works with your study style. And change up the environment so you’re studying at different places and settings.

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.).

School Supply List for Physical Therapy Students

First off, congratulations on making it into a Doctorate of Physical Therapy program! This is a huge accomplishment and you should be very proud of yourself. The programs across the country are incredibly competitive. Huge high five!

Now for your school supplies and essential for PT school… These are items required for the lab portion of PT school, the best part, am I right?

So I’ve taken the time out of shopping around and picking the best-valued items from Amazon to make it easy for you to shop. Some of the links have different color options. 

Goniometer: (12” for neck, shoulder, elbow, forearm, knee), (6” ankle, wrist)


Blood pressure cuff: 

Reflex hammer:

Gait belt:

Pen light:

Clipboard with PT cheat sheet: 

Pulse oximeter:

Other things that I would recommend but didn’t link because are too many good ones to choose from and should be personalized:

  • Planner
  • Set of colored pens
  • External hard drive
  • Water bottle

These items are linked through Amazon’s Affiliate program and I will receive a commission if you purchase through these links.

Waitlisted for PT School?

If you were waitlisted for your grad program… don’t lose hope. I was waitlisted up until the week of orientation. Yep. I got the phone call in August the week before the semester started.

I was in the middle of studying for a final (class I was retaking for a better grade) with Hung. I received the phone call at about 12pm and needed a response by 5pm that day so they could let the next person know if I declined. When I hung up, I started crying with joy. His response to me was along the lines of, “well obviously you’re going.”

I was in Eugene, OR renting an apartment and had a work shift the next day. My first call was my boyfriend at the time (now husband), Jay, who didn’t answer because he was at the gym. We were living 2 hours away from each other so I asked his mom to go find him to tell him to answer his damn phone.

I called my mom and she had the exact opposite reaction. “No, you’re not going. It’s too far and too last minute. You can try again next year.”

I called someone I knew from UO that interviewed the same time as me and was accepted into the same program. Monica ALSO was at the gym. When she got my 5 missed calls, she answered with warm support. She said she’d let me stay with her until I found housing. She even picked me up from the airport.

When Jay finally called me back, he said he’d fully support whatever decision I would make. He said he’d drop everything and move with me to California if I chose to go. By 5pm, I was on the road back home. Called into my job to quit and to find coverage for the rest of my shifts, emailed the professor for options on how to take the final off campus, and bought a ticket to California for the next day.

My waitlist story was INSANE but I still got in.