Classifying Observation Hours

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Jan 10, 2024
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In PTCAS and to get admitted I understand we need a certain type of shadowing hours. I honestly feel so dumb even asking this but I am genuinely lost. Do the hours classify on a case by case basis? Or by a physical therapist’s office? If it is by a specific physical therapist office how would you know what they classify under each category? Would really appreciate a better understanding/ explanation I don’t know any pt’s personally and am a first in my family for higher education.

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The hours are classified by overall settings, and you can specifically list what types of patients (case by case) you observed in each setting. If it's outpatient, I would try to go with what the PT's clinic goes by (ex: ortho outpatient clinic = ortho observations). Inpatient gets more tricky and I went with the individual patient types that I observed (ex: inpatient rehab = ortho, neuro, oncology, and cardio-pulmonary). If you are lacking in a variety of patient types, you ask the PT that you observed if it's ok to list by a patient-by-patient case scenario. I did this with outpatient ortho and observed a neuro patient. In general, try to get at least 3 different overall settings, and you will be fine. I hope this clarifies? Let me know if you have any more questions!
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Inpatient is when patients spend the night; outpatient is when they don't. Beyond that, check with the PT as to what setting you're in or what setting the patient falls under.
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When putting your hours into PTCAS you will list each individual place you shadowed at and then describe it as inpatient, outpatient, etc. and PTCAS will also give you a spot to put what type of patients/cases you saw there (ortho, neuro, pediatrics, geriatrics, etc.). There is also two options for obtaining your hours - paid vs. unpaid. If you are able to find work as a PT Tech/Aide, you can get a lot of hours and get hands on experience working with patients, while also getting paid. If you are shadowing, you are strictly observing the PT and will have the opportunity to ask them questions about the patient/case. It's usually recommended that you obtain hours in various settings, but in my experience, it is definitely easier to find opportunities in outpatient clinics. Calling around to various places in your area is usually the best way to see if they are allowing students to shadow at this time

If you decide to work as a PT Tech/Aide, I would definitely check with the schools you plan to apply to and verify that they do accept paid hours. Most do, but every school is different! And when you do start getting your hours, it will be really important to keep a detailed list of the places you shadow, the names of the PTs you shadow, types of cases you see, and total # of hours.
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