General Admissions & OTCAS OTCAS Observation Hours

PositivOT

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2+ Year Member
Aug 12, 2019
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  1. Occupational Therapy Student
Hi everyone! I'm planning to apply to OT schools during the upcoming 2020-2021 cycle and have a quick question regarding observation hours. I made an OTCAS account a while back just to look into the layout of the application and to get a decent understanding of what is needed for each section. I have shadowed in a few different settings in which I was 1-on-1 with therapists. However, I have been working as a rehab tech for about a year now and work with both PTs and OTs. I have a significant number of hours working in this setting but I'm not sure how to log these hours on OTCAS. I split my time between the PTs and the OTs but have gotten really close with the OTs over time and have gotten to observe and help with a lot of treatments. I reached out to a few schools and I've received varying responses regarding how these hours should be expressed in my application. I have been writing down all of my work hours in an Excel spreadsheet so I know the exact dates and hours I have and wanted to ask if it would be appropriate to put these hours under the "Observation Hours" section or if it should only be in the "Experiences" as a Healthcare experience or Employment experience (if I did this instead, I'm not sure which option is more appropriate for a rehab tech job). If I need to put my hours into the "Experiences" section, my only concern is how I should be putting my hours in. My hours have changed quite a bit throughout the year so if I put something like, 15 hours a week on my application, the total number of hours will be drastically lower than the actual total. However, if I put 25 hours a week, the total will be much higher than the actual total. I don't want to lie about my weekly hours but I do want my application to reflect the correct amount of hours I worked overall.

Any advice is appreciated! I'm honestly a little nervous but also very excited to begin applying soon!

Thanks!
 
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Hoping2BeOTnyc

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Aug 25, 2019
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  1. Pre-Occupational Therapy
Hi there - I had a similar situation when I applied. I wound up putting them in both sections (which the OTCAS help desk agreed was the best option). The "Observation Hours" part I added one entry per facility + dates of my observations. Under "Experiences," I added an entry for each therapist I shadowed. So in your case, I'm not sure if all your hours were with at one facility with several different therapists OR at a few different facilities with several different therapists.

For example, if I shadowed at a pediatric hospital but observed 4 different therapists at that same hospital across 6 months, under "Observation Hours" I put 1 entry for the hospital with the 6 month time period, then under "Experiences" I put 4 different entries - one to cover each therapist I shadowed at that one facility (e.g. Volunteer, XX Hospital, 1/2/20-1/31/20; Volunteer, XX Hospital, 1/15/20-1/31/20, etc.). I shadowed at a Hand Therapy clinic as well, but with just 1 therapist - so I added this as 1 entry under "Observation Hours" and then 1 entry under "Experiences".

Hope this helps - Let me know if you have other questions!
 

PositivOT

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2+ Year Member
Aug 12, 2019
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  1. Occupational Therapy Student
Hi there - I had a similar situation when I applied. I wound up putting them in both sections (which the OTCAS help desk agreed was the best option). The "Observation Hours" part I added one entry per facility + dates of my observations. Under "Experiences," I added an entry for each therapist I shadowed. So in your case, I'm not sure if all your hours were with at one facility with several different therapists OR at a few different facilities with several different therapists.

For example, if I shadowed at a pediatric hospital but observed 4 different therapists at that same hospital across 6 months, under "Observation Hours" I put 1 entry for the hospital with the 6 month time period, then under "Experiences" I put 4 different entries - one to cover each therapist I shadowed at that one facility (e.g. Volunteer, XX Hospital, 1/2/20-1/31/20; Volunteer, XX Hospital, 1/15/20-1/31/20, etc.). I shadowed at a Hand Therapy clinic as well, but with just 1 therapist - so I added this as 1 entry under "Observation Hours" and then 1 entry under "Experiences".

Hope this helps - Let me know if you have other questions!
@Hoping2BeOTnyc Thanks so much for the reply! Outside of the clinic I work at, I've shadowed in 3 separate settings with only 1 OT in each setting. I was planning to write those each as their own observation experience in the "Observation Hours" section and then attach signed sheets for each setting with all of the dates and hours I shadowed since I only observed at these locations but got a decent number of hours. However, I'm paid to work as a rehab tech and as I stated in my last post, I split my time between working with the PTs and working with the OTs (it's specifically for hand therapy though, as one OT is also a CHT). I had one school say that this wouldn't count as an observation experience because I'm not 1-on-1 with the OTs the entire time while I've had other schools say that it would count as an observation experience since I have been able to interact with patients in an OT setting and have observed treatments. I'm definitely going to put it down as a job experience in the "Experiences" section but I'm on the fence about putting it in the "Observation Hours" section as well due to the conflicting responses I've received from schools.
 
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SugOT

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Oct 8, 2018
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Hi! Most schools just want to see that you did the appropriate hours, so I would recommend putting your 1:1 shadowing in observation hours and your other hours in experience, unless the OTs signed off on those as observation hours! From what I can recall from my OTCAS application last year, they make you upload your proof of hours.
Additionally - OT School - Holistic Student <-- Applicant Guide
 

PositivOT

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2+ Year Member
Aug 12, 2019
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  1. Occupational Therapy Student
Hi! Most schools just want to see that you did the appropriate hours, so I would recommend putting your 1:1 shadowing in observation hours and your other hours in experience, unless the OTs signed off on those as observation hours! From what I can recall from my OTCAS application last year, they make you upload your proof of hours.
Additionally - OT School - Holistic Student <-- Applicant Guide
Thanks for the reply! I have all of my hours logged, even all of the hours I've worked over the past year. I'm trying to figure out how to get everything signed over the next month or two before the new OTCAS cycle begins. I would probably be able to get an OT to sign off on my work hours but I may just put it as a week experience and have the hours as proof of my hours. I'm not sure if that makes sense or if that's unnecessary.
 
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