How Many Observation Hours For PT School?

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If you’re thinking of attending PT school, you’ll probably want to know how many observation hours you should have.

This is a key question you’ll want to address early on in the application process. In this article, we will discuss the requirements for observing in PT schools, as well as how to choose your observation sites.

There are a number of ways to do this, including selecting different specialty areas, or choosing between inpatient and outpatient experiences.

Observation hours

If you want to attend PT school, you’ll need to complete many hours of observation.

Although the hours you’ve already completed will be considered, you may also want to take some time to explore specialty areas or choose a combination of these.

A good rule of thumb is to select three different domains per application.

Other than pediatrics, PT students can choose from cardiology, neurology, men’s health, oncology, and school PT.

Choose a number of different settings to maximize your chances of admission.


PTCAS has added an optional question that asks how many hours of observation you have completed.

These hours must be documented. It is not always possible to get all the information you need for the program, however.

Be sure to check the PTCAS Observation Hours Summary for specific requirements.

If you are not sure what you need to do, you can always contact the school you are interested in.

The school will provide you with instructions and guidelines for reporting your hours.


If you are interested in pursuing a career in physical therapy, it is important to ask yourself, “How many observation hours for PT school?”

Observation hours are often mandatory for physical therapy students to be eligible to enroll in PT school.

These hours are either paid or unpaid time spent observing a licensed physical therapist in their work.

They are used to get a feel for the field and determine if physical therapy is the right choice for you.

Inpatient vs outpatient

Inpatient vs outpatient observation status for PT school: Which is better? It depends on the circumstances. Both are valuable for students.

Some students need more observation hours in an inpatient setting, while others may want to practice on a smaller scale.

To determine which is best for you, ask your school about the rules and requirements regarding observation hours.

Inpatient observation status is a better option if you have no plans to practice in the field immediately after graduating.

Volunteer time with a PT

When you are considering a career in physical therapy, volunteering with a clinic or school is an excellent way to gain hands-on experience.

Usually, volunteers are collecting volunteer hours to submit to PT schools.

These hours are invaluable for a number of reasons, including gaining experience and establishing a relationship with a supervisor.

You can also get valuable professional experience as a volunteer by giving back to patients.

Schools that require them

Physical therapy (PT) schools require applicants to complete observation hours before they can begin their program.

These hours must be in two or more settings. A PT is not interested in hiring a tech who has thousands of hours of experience in one setting.

It is preferable that applicants complete these hours in a variety of settings.

The settings can include acute care centers, skilled nursing facilities, and rehabilitation hospitals.

Students should try to complete observation hours in at least three settings, but it is not necessary to fulfill all three.

Getting them

The most common way to obtain observation hours for PT school is to contact local physical therapy clinics or other facilities.

The clinic staff should be aware of your request for observation hours.

While you can also contact facilities online, requesting hours from local clinics is generally easier than contacting facilities overseas.

However, some facilities may only allow students to observe during their office hours, so you should make sure to ask ahead of time.

How Many Observation Hours For PT School?
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