PT Observation hours

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10+ Year Member
Oct 19, 2011
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I am relatively new to the Pre-PT career path so these may be dumb questions.

How much do observation hours play into the admissions process?

I know the minimum required by some schools is anywhere from 40-100+, but I was wondering if more would be better?

Also, How does a person go about setting up observation? Do I just walk into a clinic and ask? or is there a special process? Are they hard hours to get?

Thank you for reading

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Like you said, it varies by school. Some schools require a certain amount of hours, some recommend a certain amount of hours, and some don't even look at them. I would check the PTCAS website for the schools you are applying to, or even contact individual schools to see how heavily they weigh observations into the admissions process.

Generally, it seems that schools are looking for the quality and variety of observation over the quantity. You should probably try to do them in at least 3 different settings. At least one outpatient and one inpatient facility. But depending on the school, some want at least a certain number of hours in each setting (ex: 20 hours). They definitely won't penalize you for doing more hours than they required, and also observations can be really fun and educational. I really enjoyed doing mine. Just make sure you keep in touch with the PT you observed under, so they can verify your hours when you go to apply.

If you want to volunteer at a hospital, usually you have to contact someone in the volunteer services program. Most hospitals will have you go through an orientation class, and generally PT is done in the mornings. I've heard some people having a hard time getting hours, but I personally did not experience this. I volunteered at one of the CareOne centers in NJ, a hospital in PA, and an outpatient facility in NJ. For chains, you can usually call the branch office and see if any of their locations are taking volunteers. The outpatient facility I volunteered at I actually was a patient at. Good luck with your search!
Basically, everything he said ^^^
It's the variation that matters more than the amount of hours. However, completing the school's minimum volunteer requirements isn't going to help your chances. PT school is very competitive.

Also, in my experience, for private practices you can pretty much just walk in and ask about volunteer opportunities.
Some places like hospitals and nursing homes may/will have different rules though. Those places you need to call and go through an orientation process (so don't leave it for the last minute to get your in-patient hours). Some of these places won't even allow you in as a volunteer, but they will accept you as an intern through your school (for insurance reasons).
Be prepared to have a urin test, TB, finger print, hospitals and schools can be very protective of their clients........... all for good reasons.