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Physical Therapy

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Observation [Feb. 1st, 2010|02:45 pm]
Physical Therapy
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! :)

[User Picture]From: nybluejeans
2010-02-01 11:22 pm (UTC)


Do you have to do any internships for school? You could shadow a physical therapist for that and then it would be school related. I'm surprised that there isn't even one that would allow you to observe. Are you in a small town? Have you tried surrounding towns?

I'm not a physical therapist, but I also am interested in it. I thankfully, have been able to observe at two different hospitals. What I would like though, is to know more from a physical therapist's perspective. I wish I could find a blog that I could follow to see what it's like day to day as a physical therapist. Most blogs (if I find any) are too technical, discussing muscle groups, bones, etc. I want to know how is it as if you are speaking to someone that doesn't know all of that. If you know of any blogs like that, let me know.

Good luck! It seems like a really rewarding field. Hopefully, I'll be in school for it in a couple of years. (Gotta get some money saved up for it)
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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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[User Picture]From: benfranklin2
2010-05-17 03:35 am (UTC)

Physical Therapy observation

I understand your concers. I am preparing to apply for PTA school myself which is a long, hard, confusing process. But getting to your topic, I had the same problem. It is hard to find somewhere that will accept a person that is just "interseted" in a career in this field when they have so many students that are requesting the same observations that you are. This puts them on a pedistal and the physician usally sees them as a priority and you are autimatically placed on the bottom of the list. Although this may not be good news, there is good news. There are many small clinics specializing in different areas of PT. I went to many of these clinics and eventually found a great PT clinic that not only let me observe but paired me with someone who was close to my age and shared a similar lifestyle. It does not hurt to bend the rules a little and tell the PT that you are applying for PT school and before you apply they require observation hours. This is not completely leagal as you have confirmed that you are not a current PT student but you are trying to apply for PT school. Good Luck!
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From: neiltherapist
2011-06-24 09:38 am (UTC)
Have you tried to find a volunteer job? It may be easier and you'll be able to understand whether physical therapy is your cup of tea. You can look for this kind of job not especially in clinics and hospitals but in schools with some sports teams, retirement homes, day care centers etc. It must be more real to get a job there...
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