Expectations and Rules for Observations

  1. Call the site and set up an appointment to meet with a rehab director or designated contact person to ensure feasibility of observation at that particular facility.  Explain that you are a Polk State College seeking admission to the PTA Program.
  2. Communicate with the rehab director or designated contact person to determine what your duties will be and the site’s expectations of you.
  3. You will need to comply with all of the facility’s policies and procedures including rules and regulations concerning dress code, behavior, and confidentiality.  Students should plan to dress in khaki pants and collared shirts with closed shoes unless instructed otherwise by the site (do not wear shorts, t-shirts, flip flops, crocks, etc).
  4. Some hospitals and facilities may require students to meet certain criteria before allowing them to complete observation in their facilities.
  5. Arrive to appointments/schedules as planned by your supervisor or contact person. Also, make sure to notify your supervisor 24 hours in advance, if there is a need to cancel or reschedule your observation appointment.
  6. Avoid eating, drinking, or chewing gum during your observation sessions (except in approved areas).
  7. Remain attentive and professional at all times.  Thank the staff for their time and allowing you to observe their facility.

Observation Requirements

Observation hours are required to help you gain insight into the profession of physical therapy and to ensure that this career meets your expectations and needs.

  1. Students are required to complete and have verification of a minimum of 50 hours of observation under the supervision of a licensed physical therapist or a physical therapist assistant.   
  2. Observation experiences are required to occur in at least three different physical therapy locations and include at least one inpatient setting (hospital, rehabilitation center, skilled nursing center, nursing home) and one outpatient setting (sports medicine clinic, outpatient orthopedic rehab clinic, pediatric outpatient rehab, school system, home health).
  3. Students must complete a minimum of 8 hours in each physical therapy location.
  4. Observation Verification forms must not be more than three years old at the time of application to the PTA Program.

Please note: students who submit observation verification forms that are incomplete or do not meet the above criteria will be disqualified from admission to the Physical Therapist Assistant Program.

Where to go for observation

Students may complete observation hours in any facility offering physical therapy services where the student can be under the supervision of a licensed physical therapist or physical therapist assistant. The following sample of locations offering physical therapy services can be found online under these categories:

  • Acute care hospital (pediatric / adult)
  • Skilled Nursing (SNF) / Long Term Care
  • Outpatient Orthopedics / Sports / General / Neurologic
  • Comprehensive Rehabilitation Center
  • Outpatient Pediatrics
  • School Based Pediatrics
  • Home Health Care

Preparing the forms for submission

Students will be required to upload completed Observation Verification forms when completing the PTA Program online application. A new form should be used for each different clinical site where observations are completed.  It is the student’s responsibility to ensure this form is filled out completely for each observation site as incomplete forms will not be accepted or considered for meeting the requirement.

  1. Download the Observation Verification Form to your computer.  Save it and fill in the top portion of the first page of the form (this can be completed electronically or by hand).
  2. Print the form and take it with you to the clinical site.
  3. Upon completion of your observation hours, ask your PT or PTA supervisor to complete the bottom half of the front page of the form and initial the attendance log on the second page of the form.
  4. Students are required to summarize observation experiences in a short essay on page 2 of the Observation Verification form. The essay should include the following information:
    • What you saw: something that you observed that fascinated you about physical therapy
    • What you felt: describe the emotion you felt during the observation experiences.
    • What you thought: an idea that was sparked by your observation
    • What you learned: describe something new you learned about physical therapy during this observation
  5. Scan each completed Observation Verification Form and save it to your computer or memory device as a PDF file.
  6. Upload each Observation Verification Form PDF at the appropriate point in the on-line application process. NOTE: DO NOT save Observation Verification Forms as DOC, JPG, TXT,  or any other file type.

students who have been employed as rehab technicians

Students seeking admission to the Physical Therapist Assistant Program who had been employed as Rehab Technicians may submit an Employer Verification letter in lieu of observation hours forms.  This employment verification letter should:

  • Be on the official letter of head of employer
  • Include dates of employment
  • Description of duties and assignments
  • Be signed by Rehab Director or Facility Administrator

The employment verification letter should be scanned into a PDF document that is to be uploaded at the appropriate time during the online application process. NOTE: DO NOT upload these forms as JPG, DOC, TXT or any other formats.