observation hours for non-trad

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Jun 19, 2015
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I'm a non-grad student looking to apply to DPT programs this summer-- one glaring problem on my application will be observation hours-- I'm just now starting to get some hours in and if I want to apply early it will limit those hours even more-- plus add on trying to juggle work and baby it's hard to get a ton of hours in-- I'm wondering how this will affect my application...do you think it I should wait off on applying this summer and apply later in Fall? or just apply & see how it goes-- what is a good number to shoot for?

I'm inclined to think that observation is to ensure you are serious about the field- and I can see as a newly graduated undergrad how a lot of exposure would be important- but as an older student I've worked in many different professional environments and I know a good thing when I see it- I know this is something that I want to do and would be happy doing-- at least that's how I plan on selling it if the admissions committee asks hahaha :)

Any advice is welcome & appreciated since I obviously don't have a counselor to talk about this stuff with.

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I'm a nontraditional too. I do think being older and having a previous career and life experiences can be useful in a lot of ways. My teaching career gave me a lot to talk about in interviews and the essay. And coming from somewhere where I always worked over 50 hours a week it makes school less of an adjustment work level wise than some people who had fairly light undergrad course loads (although I think people who are coming in having had recent heavy duty science loads actually have an advantage to start over us old timers. :)) It doesn't negate the need for observation hours though. Many programs won't even look at you without a certain number of hours. It's a pain when you're working and a parent. I know. I was a working parent while observing too. But you need to manage to take some time off and knock them out. You don't need crazy numbers, but most places seem to want like 100 hours. 50 seems to be the lowest I've seen being accepted. It seems like a lot, but they can add up pretty quickly if you focus on them.
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If I remember right, PTCAS lets you put planned hours in under observation as well. You can include hours that you have set up but haven't yet completed there. It likely looks better to show you have more planned than it does to not mention those.
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One more, then I'll stop dominating your post. :) If you call around a lot, you may be able to find some places that fit your work/parenting schedule better too. If you live in a city there are likely some places where you can observe PT earlier in the morning or in the evening or on weekends if you work during the traditional 9-5 times. It's hard to make that the majority of your observation time, but you should be able to make at least some of them convenient. Make sure you get a variety of settings too. Most schools want to see that you've done both inpatient and out patient and both adult and pediatric for instance.
I had 2 kids when going through applications so observation hours were extremely expensive. I hired a sitter for 2 mornings a week and did 8 hours obs/week for the summer only before applying. That gave me right around 70 hours in only one setting. I would just make sure to get above the program minimum. Another option with kids is to have someone come visit for a week and just do one full time week which will give you 40-50 hours. I think it's plenty personally.

Do your schools have rolling admissions? If not then def wait until the last day to apply. Otherwise I would still maybe wait at least until the end of August if you can.
ahhhh thank you! that makes me feel a bit better-- I was seeing people post crazy numbers like 200-400+ and there is just no way I will get to that-- like you said it's expensive enough getting a babysitter this summer-- my goal is 80-100 and I think that's doable and focusing more on variety will help-- thanks again!
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