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12 Things You Should Know About Physical Therapy Application Process PT School By Zach Hall PT, DPT
A little about me.. • I am Aaron Hall’s older brother • I am a WSU alumni from 2008 • I just graduated from PT school in Aug 2012 form AT Still University in Mesa, AZ • I am currently working for Ideal Physical Therapy which is an outpatient physical therapy clinic in Phoenix, AZ • I bleed Crimson and Grey!
1. What to focus on in undergrad to get a PT interview? • Every PT school is looking for different values for the following information • PT observation hours (usually around 100 in a variety of settings) • Cumulative GPA • Prerequisite GPA • Extra circular activities (clubs, sports, volunteer, etc..) • Reference Letters (usually 2-3 and not from Grandma) • GRE score (BLEH!) • Essays… (again BLEH!)
2. What do PT schools want to hear in the essay? • About You! – This is where you get to sell yourself to the school. You shouldn’t expect your GPA, observation hours, etc. to automatically propel you into school, be your own salesperson! • Schools get thousands of applicants a year for somewhere between 30-70 spots • Why you are interested in their school? • Why do you want to be a PT? • What are your life/career goals?
3. How can I improve my chances of getting an interview? • Study the schools – city, history of school, history of program • Learn about what is cool, hip and happening in the profession • Trigger point dry needling, manipulations vs. mobilizations, evidence based practice (hint, hint: got asked about this in my interview at UNLV, had no idea what they were talking about, big oops!) • Learn about the specialties of professors • What are they researching? • What residencies/fellowships are offered post grad by school? (Manual, neuro, pediatrics, etc.) • What do all those letters mean after their name? – (COMT? FAAOMPT? CHT? ZZUCRU!) • Most of info on this slide can be found on PT school websites, but get ready to research
4. What do they ask in the interview/how do I prepare!? • They ask about you… • What are your strengths/weaknesses as student/person? • Why are you interested in PT? • Why are you interested in this school? • Why did you get such a low score in chem? On the GRE? In Bruya’s 199 class?
Interview Tips • Make eye contact • Practice interview questions (googlesome or search APTA/PTCAS) • It is okay to pause for a second to gather your thoughts • Take a deep breath (breathing is important) • If you don’t know about something they ask, don’t make a song and dance up on the spot (they will know). • Tell them you don’t know but go on to say how you would go about looking it up to learn more, how you would be interested in hearing more about the topic after your interview, what resources you could use to look up more info on the topic. This looks way more professional than sweating, making something up or passing out! • Be prepared to get hammered or surprised by a question! • Be prepared to think on your feet a little, sometimes they will ask weird questions like if you could be any animal what animal would you be and why, just to see how you react and how well you think on your feet (the correct answer of course is a COUGAR!)
5. Tips for Application Process • Hedge your bets • Schools are very competitive • When I applied we accepted 62 students out of about 960 applicants. In other words 6.4% of those who applied got in. • Apply to as many as you feel you can afford or want to go to. The application process can be very expensive! • Get your applications in early!!! • Some schools operate on rolling admission or rolling interview process. In other words first come, first accepted (if you meet their criteria) • Apply to a variety of schools (in state, out of state, private) • In state students have best chance of getting into in state schools • Best chance of getting into school is private but watch out!... They are also the most expensive!
6. What happens if I Don’t get in to PT school the First time?! =( • Don’t sweat it! • Keep plugging away – ask the schools what areas they would like to see your application improve in and then get to work on improving those areas • Get a job as a PT tech – you get get paid for getting observation hours… best of both worlds! • Keep in touch with the school’s admissions office/officer – this will show the school you are dedicated
7. What is the real cost of school? • In state tuition<out of state tuition <<private school tuition. • In state will be cheapest – EWU, and that gross unmentionable school in Seattle…(although not really that cheap) • Out of state, state schools next – UNLV, NAU • Private Schools are mucho expensive! – UPS, ATSU, USC • Tuition is usually between $20,000 - $45,000/ yr
7. What is the real cost of school? • Very hard (although not impossible) to work during PT school so don’t forget about other expenses • Cost of living per city (living in San Diego, although, nice, will cost more in loans than living in Spocompton) • Living: Food, rent, coffee, more coffee, etc. • School: Books, lab clothes, special fees, rotation fees • This can all add up quickly, and although loans will cover it, remember that you have to pay it back; so plan appropriately!
8. What types of loans are available to Graduate Students? • Kiss those Grants good bye – most schools and states don’t give out grants for grad school • These are the types of loans I was able to get, other schools may vary (contact the financial office of the school you are interested) • Subsidized and unsubsidized Stafford loans • Grad plus loans – majority of loan amount, usually, higher interest rates than Stafford • Find scholarships (again contact financial aid offices at schools you are applying for to get help)
9. Now that I am in PT school…how hard is it going to be? • No lies, PT school is tough! • But, honestly, it is not the material itself that is tough, it is instead the amount of material you are expected to learn that gets ya. • Learn to love your library • Having 2 tests per week was an easy week, it was those week you had 5 tests and a paper due in a week that began to run up a Starbucks bill • PT school, to me, was much more interesting than most undergrad classes so it made studying easier • You finally get to study the things you are interested in, instead of why magnets are attracted to each other or gened 110
10. What classes will I take? • Physical therapy school prepares you to work in all disciplines of our profession. Thus, there are many different classes you will take, which include: • Manual therapy - Documentation • Orthopedic - Physiology • Neurology - Pharmacology • Anatomy - Acute Care • Research - and many more! • Wound Care • Pediatrics • Geriatrics
11. What Types of tests should I expect? • Expect multiple choice, written, and practical tests • I am sure you are familiar with the first two.. • Practical tests usually consist of testing your ability to apply what you have learned into treating a real live patient (or in most cases a patient scenario) • These tests at my school consisted of professors acting out real patient diagnoses and grading you on a half hour examination, evaluation, and treatment of the patient. • First couple will make you sweat but then you get used to them…
12. What are rotations? • All PT schools are required to send students on rotations. This is where you get your hands dirty and work under the supervision or a licensed PT. • You are required to complete rotations in a variety of settings (out patient ortho, acute care, neuro rehab, in-patient rehab) so don’t expect to get them all within one discipline. • At my school our entire 3rd year was all rotations with other shorter rotations in the 1st and 2nd years • Overall we had about 40-42 weeks of rotations in my 3 years. • I believe most schools will let you do rotations in any state
Helpful PT Resources • Here are some good websites for answers: • www.ptcas.org • www.apta.org • www.orthopt.org • http://studentaid.ed.gov/ • That of your local PT (e.g. www.pullmansportspt.com/)
Thanks and Good Luck!!! • The field of Physical Therapy is a great and growing profession with amazing job security. It also provides an opportunity to meet and network with a variety of people in the community while you provide care to those with injuries. It is a profession that is mobile, diverse and continuously changing. • If you guys have anymore questions feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and good luck with the application process! • GOOO COUGS!!!