Oct 7, 2014
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Pre-Physical Therapy
I currently volunteer at a hospital in a dismissals position. Basically, I walk people (or usually push them in a wheel chair) who are being dismissed to checkout and then to their cars. I have read on some threads that it is considered inpatient observation hours because I am coming in direct contact with a patient (i.e. if you can smell the patients then its inpatient observation.) But on other threads I have read that you have to actually be in a physical therapy office for it to even be considered inpatient observation hours. So does my position count as inpatient observation hours for PT school?

If it does not count as inpatient, then what would my volunteer hours in the dismissals position count as? Just volunteer work?

Also, what would be an example of a position that would be considered inpatient observation hours?

How many hours would you recommend in inpatient, outpatient, and other settings? I know some schools have minimum requirements, but what would be a competitive number of hours for each?

And what about volunteer hours; what is considered a competitive number of volunteer hours?

Thanks in advance.
 
Jun 17, 2014
213
167
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Pre-Physical Therapy
If you are not working with a physical therapist who can verify your hours, it does not count as PT observation hours. In my opinion, what you are doing does not count.

Most people get their inpatient obs hours by shadowing a PT in an acute care or inpatient rehab unit. There's no need to have an official volunteer position.

It's safe to have around 100 hours split amongst 2-3+ settings. Those of us that work as an aid or tech commonly have over 1000 hours, but that's not necessary.
 

DesertPT

5+ Year Member
Apr 22, 2013
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Physical Therapist
If you are not working with a physical therapist who can verify your hours, it does not count as PT observation hours. In my opinion, what you are doing does not count.

Most people get their inpatient obs hours by shadowing a PT in an acute care or inpatient rehab unit. There's no need to have an official volunteer position.

It's safe to have around 100 hours split amongst 2-3+ settings. Those of us that work as an aid or tech commonly have over 1000 hours, but that's not necessary.
Correct. 100+ hours in at least 3 (if not 4) different PT setting is what you need to aim for. If you don't work as a PT tech then there is no need to go grossly over 100 hours (ie don't spend 350 hours standing around doing nothing watching PTs - 100 is brutal as it is). There are a few oddball schools that have requirements of more than 100, but not very many. If schools have a hard minimum of 100 then maybe aim for roughly 150 just to be safe.

Essentially all PT schools value breadth of experience more than depth of experience. 20 hours each in rehab, acute care, OP ortho and pediatrics for example, rather than 100 in OP ortho (even if it is different OP ortho clinics). OP ortho hours are like falling off a log to get usually, the inpatient ones (especially acute care hospital) are the hard ones but those are the ones that schools want to see the most because they assume that everyone is already aware of what goes on in OP ortho PT. They want you to have experienced as much of the vast variety there is in the PT profession as possible.
 

DesertPT

5+ Year Member
Apr 22, 2013
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Physical Therapist
And no, your position at the hospital is not observation hours as you are not observing a PT doing there job. That would just go in the extracurricular activities section on PTCAS. But since you're already at the hospital you should have an easier time contacting therapy services to set up an observation experience.

Sometimes hospitals really put you through the ringer before they let you observe, but I'm betting you've already jumped through some of the hoops they want people to since you already have a volunteer experience. IMO if your current volunteer experience makes it difficult to schedule PT observation hours then you will be better served as far as PT school admissions go by devoting more time to observation hours and less to the discharge volunteering. As far as the extracurricular go, I don't think that is a big part of the application for most schools, but having an extracurricular that you stuck with for a long period of time is probably better than having one where you crammed a lot of volunteer hours in in a short time. But you'll figure it out. :)

Just keep doing your research on whats out there in PT. There are dozens of threads on SDN on the questions you are asking so search away and find all the information you ever could need. :)