Shadowing a physical therapist is an essential step for anyone considering a career in PT. Here are some reasons why shadowing is so important before applying to PT school:
Gain real-world experience: Shadowing allows you to observe physical therapists in action and see what their daily work entails. This can give you a better understanding of the profession and help you decide if it's the right career path for you.
Learn about different specialties: Physical therapy is a broad field with many different specialties. If you can try to shadow in several areas. I wish I would have had more shadowing experience outside of outpatient orthopedics. I had no idea how diverse PT really is.
Networking opportunities: Shadowing can provide you with the opportunity to meet and network with physical therapists. Seems like a stretch but you never know where you might end up working. I do contract work for a PT I shadowed so I know firsthand that shadowing as a prospective PT student can pay off in the future.
Letters of recommendation: PT programs require letters of recommendation from physical therapists. This is exactly how I got my letters… I shadowed several PTs and the ones I liked (and they seemed to like me) were the ones I asked for letters from.
In conclusion, shadowing several PTs is an important step when considering a career in physical therapy. It can provide you with valuable real-world experience. Take advantage of shadowing opportunities whenever you have the chance!