Oct 15, 2010
51
0
Status
Pre-Rehab Sci [General]
How did everyone here do their shadowing?

As I am about to start my shadowing, I think such an important aspect of the pre-pt process often gets brushed aside. This topic is meant to (hopefully) be a source of reference for those applying and starting the Pt-shadowing/volunteering.

The following questions are just ideas of what an answer may include.

Did you have a journal you recorded it in, or was it all recorded on the computer?
Did you have it signed by the PT you shadowed?
Did you focus on small clinics or hospital settings? Sports rehab clinic or a long term care rehab?
How early did you start shadowing?
How did you develop a strong enough relationship with a PT to get a strong LOR?
Did you spread the hours out over the course of years, or grind through in a single summer?

Hopefully this sparks enough replies to be a good source of information, thanks!
 

jbizzle

10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Dec 19, 2008
811
28
Status
Pre-Rehab Sci [General]
Did you have a journal you recorded it in, or was it all recorded on the computer?

It was a piece of paper or a card depending on which setting I was in, which had dates, hours and running total hours for my observation. It was on agency letterhead though.

Did you have it signed by the PT you shadowed?

Yes, in some cases the clinics I volunteered at didn't have their own so I created one and made sure they included their license #, signature, contact information.

Did you focus on small clinics or hospital settings? Sports rehab clinic or a long term care rehab?

The more settings the better. Quality not Quantity is what you've probably seen throughout this forum. For me I volunteered at in patient acute the most, and two out-patient clinics (Sports and Neuro). However, I wish I had done an SNF.

How early did you start shadowing?

I started late, which was the dumbest thing I ever did. I took an intro to exercise science class and in this class the professor brings in guest speakers to speak to the class and one was a current student about to head into a DPT program. What that person said was to start volunteering early as possible. I brushed it aside and when I started applying the first time around I found myself only having 23 hours of volunteer work. So I decided to actually take that year off just to get volunteer hours and take the GRE (which is another dumb thing I brushed aside)

How did you develop a strong enough relationship with a PT to get a strong LOR?

Showed up on time everyday I went to volunteer. I recommend not asking for an LOR until you have put in a good amount of hours. I did this once, I asked for a letter with about 15 hours in and the PT looked at me like I was crazy, so make sure you put in some time before asking. Also, make sure you ask questions if you dont understand anything. The one thing I experienced is that PTs that you shadow will be nice and will explain a lot of things to you. I volunteered at a place where they really needed volunteers so I pretty much did what I could for them know they can count on me and they trusted me to get things for them; like a patient lift, walker, ice packs, etc. and they knew I would get it right the first time. And if you volunteer at an acute setting, when walking to different patient's rooms, just strike up a conversation, like "so who are we seeing next", "what type of patients will we be seeing today" and just go off fro then. Some days I volunteered back to back and I would see the same patients we worked with the previous days and if you develop a rap with the patients, the PTs will notice also. Here and there we talked about different things outside of PT to show my personality and stuff. My PT did belly dancing classes for her exercise, she was ready to buy a house, just broke up with her boyfriend lol, I know a whole lot of her personal information, she was really cool that's why. They already know you are interested in the field since youre volunteering so....

Did you spread the hours out over the course of years, or grind through in a single summer?

With my hours I spread it out. You get different answers on this one.
 
Last edited:

dizzy88

5+ Year Member
Jul 9, 2010
234
4
Utah
Status
DPT / OTD
Did you have a journal you recorded it in, or was it all recorded on the computer?

I recorded all of my dates/hours on an excel spreadsheet.

Did you have it signed by the PT you shadowed?

I didn't have the PT sign them, but it's a smart idea. There was one therapist who did not remember who I was when it came time for applying haha.

Did you focus on small clinics or hospital settings? Sports rehab clinic or a long term care rehab?

My first job shadow was in a large outpatient clinic. My second was in a acute hospital setting. And my third was in a small/private outpatient clinic (I eventually got employed there). I would strongly recommend that you should try and get a varied background through these shadowing experiences. It makes you more knowledgeable about the field, and it gives you an idea of where your interests and strengths are.

How early did you start shadowing?

I started the summer after graduating high school.

How did you develop a strong enough relationship with a PT to get a strong LOR?

One of my shadowing experiences turned into a job and I have been working there for over 3 years now. It's a small private practice and I got to know my boss very well. If it wasn't for that, I would probably just find a place where you can stick around. Consider yourself a volunteer instead of just trying to get hours and offer your time to help the facility.

Did you spread the hours out over the course of years, or grind through in a single summer?

2 of my job shadows were over the course of the summer (<50 hrs each over ~3 months). And again, I was employed by a clinic for a long time.
 

goyo1010

5+ Year Member
Oct 13, 2010
595
20
Houston
www.linkedin.com
Status
Physical Therapist
Did you have a journal you recorded it in, or was it all recorded on the computer?

I simply made my own log sheet (or provided by your school's website). So you have one for each school your applying to, or at least using the specified log sheets. If you have some schools that don't require that you use their log sheets, then you can make your own and just photocopy one for them.

As for a of what you did? That would be for your own benefit.

Did you have it signed by the PT you shadowed?

A lot of schools require the PT signature to ensure that you did complete those hours. It's recommended even if they don't. Have them print their name, signature, date signed, completed hours, and license number.

Did you focus on small clinics or hospital settings? Sports rehab clinic or a long term care rehab?

It's always good to focus of a wide variety of settings. The better your experience is in the different fields of physical therapy the better. However, you really can't expect to go shadow every single field. I would suggest the most important setting for a pre-PT student to observe in is the acute care setting. Very important. Again, the quality of the observations (your participation, what you learned, the impression you've made to your PT, your patient interaction, etc.) should be more important than the quantity.

How early did you start shadowing?

I didn't start until the summer before applying. So, about June 2010 and I applied mid-August 2010. It wasn't so hard to find places to shadow, but rule of thumb: do it as early as possible to avoid any sort of conflicts or problems.

How did you develop a strong enough relationship with a PT to get a strong LOR?

Show up on time. Be as helpful as you can. Be at the ready for anything they will need. Talk to the patients. Set up the machines and equipment for the patients. Be ready to clean tables after each patient. Have the ice packs or heat packs at the ready. Be patient, be considerate be nice. If you're having a crappy day, don't let it show. Ask them about the patients' condition or diagnosis (don't do it all the time though, especially when it's really busy). Don't be afraid to show your anatomy/physiology chops now and then, when appropriate. Usually, the PTs will be nice enough to tell you themselves without asking. It's all common sense. Oh, don't be afraid to do the laundry. lol

Did you spread the hours out over the course of years, or grind through in a single summer?

I did it all in a single summer. No harm done. It's up to one's schedule really.
 
Dec 13, 2010
57
0
Status
Rehab Sci Student
Did you have a journal you recorded it in, or was it all recorded on the computer?

I created a chart on my computer. Each day after shadowing, I'd record the date, # of hours, and where/with whom I observed.

Did you have it signed by the PT you shadowed?

The PTs just told me to keep track myself. Toward the end of each experience, I brought them the form required by my non-PTCAS school, and asked if I could send them the hours verification email from PTCAS. They were happy to do so. For the paper form, I gave it to them a few days in advance of when I was leaving so they didn't have to be rushed.

Did you focus on small clinics or hospital settings? Sports rehab clinic or a long term care rehab?

I tried to fit in as many settings as I could. I was able to observe home pediatrics, acute rehab, and 2 outpatient clinics.

How early did you start shadowing?

My first observations were in June 2009, just after finishing my junior year. I'd recommend starting as early as you can. I have to say though, I feel that one benefit to the timing of my first observations is that even though I hadn't taken any of my core kinesiology classes yet, I had just taken anatomy. This allowed me to have a better understanding of what the PT was doing than if I hadn't yet learned anatomy.

How did you develop a strong enough relationship with a PT to get a strong LOR?

I tried to have good communication, show up on time, and ask lots of questions. Asking questions shows them that you're really interested and investing yourself in the experience. Sometimes I'd ask what they were doing, other times if I had an idea of what was going on I'd ask a question to confirm ("And that's to improve her balance, right?"). I also asked non-PT questions ("how was your weekend?"). And because I was in the clinic with the same 2 PTs a few days a week, we quickly got to the level of "what did you do for your birthday?", "did you watch that tv show last night?", etc. I recommend spending an extended period of time with any PT you ask for a LOR. I was with mine for 6-7 weeks when I asked for one and I had been going in 3-4 days a week.

Did you spread the hours out over the course of years, or grind through in a single summer?

I did 23 one summer but the rest were done this past summer. In between I had tried to do some observations up where I go to school, but it's a small Northern CA town and I don't have a car so my options have been somewhat limited. I finally got a PT aide job last month.
 

markelmarcel

7+ Year Member
Dec 17, 2009
1,109
79
Status
DPT / OTD
Did you have a journal you recorded it in, or was it all recorded on the computer?
At one site, they had a paper "sign-in" sheet that I filled out. I was at each shadowing place for about 30 hours, so I just had it programmed into my phone and added it up when I was done.

Did you have it signed by the PT you shadowed?
The only thing I had signed was the electronic observation hours required by PTCAS.

Did you focus on small clinics or hospital settings? Sports rehab clinic or a long term care rehab?
I did a little of everything- in-patient hospital, out-patient at hospital, out-patient at "chain" clinic, out-patient at private clinic, peds, geratics, stroke patients, orthopedics, etc, etc.

How early did you start shadowing?
I did about 25 hours for when I thought I wanted to go to a PTA program. Then, I picked up the other 75 within about a month.

How did you develop a strong enough relationship with a PT to get a strong LOR?
The one physical therapist is a family friend, so she knows me really well. I didn't get a letter from any of the hospital PTs (bad experience) and the other guy I shadowed with for 6 days and he wrote me a letter... Apparently it was nice enough because I got accepted into two schools, haha.

Did you spread the hours out over the course of years, or grind through in a single summer?
^see above 'How early did you start?'^
Did 25 before I went to visit a PTA school (in April 2009), then the PT convinced me to go DPT, and so I did the other 75 within a month (July-August 2010). The first 30-some I did at the hospital - a few hours a day after my summer classes and then I did a full-time 40 hours in a week at the third placement.
 
Sep 11, 2010
33
1
Culver City, CA
Status
Did you have a journal you recorded it in, or was it all recorded on the computer?
I did it all on the computer every night after a day of shadowing. I just really don't think I could've absorbed as much information and experience as I did if I was worried about writing every single little detail down. At least if i let it sink in for a while, I could reflect back and replay the whole experience over again.

Did you have it signed by the PT you shadowed?
I shadowed about 4 different PTs and had the owner verify my hours.

Did you focus on small clinics or hospital settings? Sports rehab clinic or a long term care rehab?
I focused on small clinics because I believe they are the most interesting. They can be drastically different yet yield the same results.

How early did you start shadowing?
I did some shadowing in high school just to get a feel for it and then I tried as hard as I could to make time during undergrad but I just wanted to focus on my studies. I'm taking the year off now to get as much experience as I can.

How did you develop a strong enough relationship with a PT to get a strong LOR?
I made sure to let them know how much I appreciated them taking the time and letting me really experience it all. I made it a point to connect with them on some level and make sure that this really is my passion. I think they really appreciate someone who is genuinely interested in the experience and not just to get the hours. I would NEVER ask for a LOR just after finishing the minimum requirement of hours.

Did you spread the hours out over the course of years, or grind through in a single summer?
Initially, I was just trying to grind it out but I ended up with 2 jobs as a result of shadowing for 2 different clinics less than 50 hours so that plan changed. I don't think it matters how you do it as long as you get something out of it.