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Observation - The Wonderful World of Physical Therapy [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Physical Therapy

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Observation [Feb. 1st, 2010|02:45 pm]
Physical Therapy
phys_therapy
[earthbend]
How did you know you wanted to be a physical therapist? Right now I'm a second year college student with a Biology major that is interested in the field, but not sure if I want to pursue it. The only way I can think of confirming my interest is to be able to observe physical therapists, but so far every hospital or outpatient clinic I've contacted has given me a "no". Why? Because they want to reserve their spots for people "completing their required hours" and in the process of already applying to PT schools. How can I confirm my interest if I'm not allowed to be near any PTs and their patients? Any suggestions? Thanks! :)
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[User Picture]From: dance_shiva
2010-02-02 06:24 am (UTC)
Yeah, beurocracy can be a bitch. I hope you can understand that the PT clinics aren't just being jerks...there's liability and all sorts of other crap that goes into monitoring an intern which is a pretty big deal and puts limits on how many a given clinic can safely handle.

One thing you could do is get a job as a Physical Therapy Aide. It's kind of a crap job...you probably won't make more than $8 per hour, and it mostly involves non-trained labor such as preparing hot packs, setting up stim pad, putting people in traction harnesses, and monitoring established workout routines, but you do get to see pretty much everything that goes on.

There are a wide variety of settings. For example, a sports medicine clinic specializes in rehab-ing people who are trying to get back to athletic level performance after injury, while a standard outpatient PT clinic sees more average people who just want to get back to doing basic daily things or preparing for (or avoiding) surgery, identifying and treating causes of pain and disability. Hospital PTs do a lot less fine diagnosis of orthopedic problems, and a lot more evaluating people to see if it's ok to get them out of bed for a little exercise, and determining how much they can do...less hard core PT stuff and more broad understanding of lots of different diseases, conditions, and proceedures and their effect on a person's safety with basic ADLs (walking, dressing, eating, toileting). Geriatric PTs work with the elderly to help maintain function, safety, and independence.

So think about what kind of populations might interest you, and try applying for a paid schlepping job. It'll get you a good idea of what goes on, the rhythm of the job and the kind of things you'll see. Plus you'll get $8 per hour to do what you'd otherwise be doing for free.:)
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