charlotter

2+ Year Member
May 2, 2014
97
31
Status
Pre-Physical Therapy
Hi there! I was wondering what the protocol was for contacting practicing DPTs to get observation hours. I am a sophomore in college and would like to observe at a practice this summer. I was wondering how to go about asking to observe and what I should specifically ask? I was planning to email DPTs in the area, but it looks like I have to call. I'm really not sure what to ask.

Thanks!
 
Mar 31, 2014
600
230
Northeast
Status
Physical Therapy Student
Email or better yet go IN PERSON to areas. Use family friends. I highly discourage going through a hospital volunteering program. They're usually awful and youll just be another number and person walking around (makes it hard to get experience).

I did 7 clinics. 5 were on my own accord. Phone calls, walking in and talking to people to set things up etc. Find someone who will teach you things and form a relationship with you. Otherwise, youll be wiping beds for free without learning anything about the field or getting someone to sign your hours off. Volunteering can be really rewarding if approached right....and you need to set it up so professionals will verify hours and write recommendations if you've had a positive experience. Keep a spreadsheet log.

Good luck!
 

DesertPT

5+ Year Member
Apr 22, 2013
2,656
1,871
Status
Physical Therapist
Generally if you want to do acute care hospital hours you have to go through a big drawn out application process but I highly recommend it even if it only 20 hours you can pick up as this is a setting a lot of applicants lack that adcoms often like to see.

This question has been answered quite a few times btw so a lot of helpful information action can be found if you look for old threads on the subject.
 
Mar 3, 2015
60
40
Status
Physical Therapy Student
"Hi, my name is so-and-so and I was wondering if you have any physical therapy observation/shadowing/volunteer opportunities?"

You can also add something about planning to apply to PT school if you want.

I believe I had the best success just showing up and asking since they really have no choice but to act upon your request since you are standing right there lol.. but a phone call is the next best thing. Emailing would take a lot longer to set things up so I personally would not do that unless I was told (on the phone) to email a specific PT.

Hospital settings are the most difficult to get into and can usually require multiple phone calls, emails, and showing up in person to pretty much force them to finish your application, so make sure you plan ahead for this one.
 

DesertPT

5+ Year Member
Apr 22, 2013
2,656
1,871
Status
Physical Therapist
"Hi, my name is so-and-so and I was wondering if you have any physical therapy observation/shadowing/volunteer opportunities?"

You can also add something about planning to apply to PT school if you want.

I believe I had the best success just showing up and asking since they really have no choice but to act upon your request since you are standing right there lol.. but a phone call is the next best thing. Emailing would take a lot longer to set things up so I personally would not do that unless I was told (on the phone) to email a specific PT.

Hospital settings are the most difficult to get into and can usually require multiple phone calls, emails, and showing up in person to pretty much force them to finish your application, so make sure you plan ahead for this one.
Agree with all this completely. Setting up hospital hours is a pain but totally worth it in the end.
 
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brooklynyc

2+ Year Member
Jan 6, 2015
95
76
Status
Pre-Physical Therapy
I disagree with the earlier advice of not bothering with hospitals. My hospital inpatient experience was AMAZING.
 
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Sep 30, 2014
46
24
Status
Pre-Rehab Sci [General]
I just googled "PT's near me" and basically called as many places as I could and most of these places were very accommodating than I expected. If you want a paid job definitely check out Craigslist (be careful of the psychos). You will be shocked at how many of these private clinics post ads on Craigslist. Goodluck
 
Mar 31, 2014
600
230
Northeast
Status
Physical Therapy Student
I disagree with the earlier advice of not bothering with hospitals. My hospital inpatient experience was AMAZING.
This was not clarified. I'm referring to hospital volunteering programs that usually require a time period or you doing hours/tasks before even getting into the correct area. The one in my town is really bad. Its like paying your dues to volunteer by volunteering with something else first.

It is much easier to use an acquaintance and get visitor passes on breaks from school IF possible. DEFINTELY bother with hospitals. Getting acute and subacute experience is absolutely important. It is just less of a hassle if you don't have to go through a formal volunteering program....although that is what you usually have to do >_<.
 

DesertPT

5+ Year Member
Apr 22, 2013
2,656
1,871
Status
Physical Therapist
This was not clarified. I'm referring to hospital volunteering programs that usually require a time period or you doing hours/tasks before even getting into the correct area. The one in my town is really bad. Its like paying your dues to volunteer by volunteering with something else first.
Correct. A couple of hospitals I called wanted me to work for free in the gift shop for several months before they'd even let me get in contact with a PT.

 
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DesertPT

5+ Year Member
Apr 22, 2013
2,656
1,871
Status
Physical Therapist
I think the problem is that they end up wanting you to talk to the hospital volunteer service, rather than letting you talk to a student observer coordinator. The best option is to try to finagle the phone number/email of the rehab director out of someone and/or contact the PT department directly, but that's not always possible.
 

Kuhdaytee

5+ Year Member
May 6, 2011
419
174
Status
Physical Therapy Student
I agree with DesertPT. When I needed inpatient hours, I called the volunteer service and asked if they did shadowing for physical therapy, and I got the information of the rehab director. No volunteering/bed cleaning was required, and I had a ton of time to ask questions when we were walking to rooms, between patients, and when they were typing up their charts. Specifically ask for shadowing, not a volunteer program.
 
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Apr 7, 2015
12
9
Status
Pre-Physical Therapy
You can also try your college's student health center if they have a PT department- they're usually looking for volunteers before the start of semesters. I just walked into mine, and through volunteering there I also got info on when the local hospital was looking for PT volunteers too.
 
Sep 5, 2014
69
60
Status
Pre-Rehab Sci [General]
It took me 5 months to get in with my VA, volunteering at the Brain Rehab Research Center. Plan way in advance, it can take forever !
 
May 3, 2014
190
177
Phoenix
Status
Physical Therapy Student
I want to second whoever said to call/go in person. I think people today tend to be kind of phone phobic, and will often just email, but I think it's way better to make contact voice to voice or in person, and can eliminate a lot of back and forth in terms of trying to work out a schedule, or get a response from the right person.

The hospitals can be rough - I got into one hospital relatively quickly (2 month process), and was stoked, but then found out at the tail end of it that I got placed to be a volunteer in the outpatient rehab center. :(

Definitely plan in advance, there were some cool settings I had to take a pass on because I waited too long.
 
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Jan 21, 2018
8
0
This thread is a little old, but I hope someone will see and can help answer my question:

Is there an appropriate minimum # of days I can ask to shadow in a place? What I mean is would DPTs—particularly inpatient—be okay with me asking to observe them for a short time (e.g., 4hrs x2/wk for 1-3 weeks?)? I'm not in a rush to gather hrs because so far I have ~400 and counting, but they're only from long-term shadowing experiences from 2 places. Now that my schedule is more free and accommodating, I'd like to increase my variety of observed settings because I feel that's what makes me a weaker candidate compared to others.

I just don't know how often clinics or hospitals get these sort of requests...or if they'd feel annoyed that I'm only looking to come by for so few days.
 

gsnts725

2+ Year Member
Apr 4, 2015
49
15
Status
Pre-Physical Therapy
With the clinics I've volunteered at, they were very flexible with my hours, so I'm sure most places will be very flexible with you as well. I really don't think there's a true appropriate minimum #of days. Maybe a hospital is that strict but I'm not sure. They will usually ask when you are available and they will try to work in based on your preferences. Good luck!