This is the fourth article of a five-part series, “The Doctor of Physical Therapy Interview”
Part 1: What to Expect
Part 3: Preparing for the Questions
By: Mathew Hilton, MS, SPT, ACLS, PALS
University of Delaware Physical Therapy Class of 2017
During the Doctor of Physical Therapy interview day, you will have an opportunity to tour the campus with faculty, administrators and/or students. If this tour is optional, then you should definitely opt for taking it, not because the tour will help you in admissions (it probably won’t), but because this allows you an opportunity to see if this DPT program fits your needs and preferences.
The DPT campus tour is a great opportunity to assess the size and scope of the program’s facilities, in addition to other factors that you can use to compare programs. Here are some things to notice while on the tour:
1. Your Tour Guide
First you want to orient yourself to your tour guide. If they are a student, you should get a sense of their perspective as a student going through the program. Take note of their demeanor and their tone as they walk you through their campus. Do they sound excited to show you around their school? Or do they seem disinterested as if someone is forcing them to give the tour?
When I toured a particularly respected DPT program, I remember that the PT student who led us in the tour did not have much enthusiasm at all about the campus. He would walk us by a building and say something like, “this is the classroom, but we’re not going to go in because it’s pretty self-explanatory… anyways… moving on…” This tour was not the deciding factor in my decision for attending or not attending a certain school, but it definitely influenced my perception of the program and how this particular student felt about it.
Beyond the tour guide’s tone and demeanor, I would ask the student directly about their experience in the program and try to tease out how that student feels about their program (more specifics to come in the next article).
Also observe how the student interacts with their classmates. Do they seem like they get along with their faculty and classmates? Do they seem like they enjoy being around each other? Or is the class maybe a bit large and in turn they don’t seem like they interact much with each other. Again, this could just boil down to your personal preference (whether you want a small/intimate program or a large/diverse program).
Of course, you want to look at the actual facilities that they show you. Here are examples of different facilities and specific things that you should look out for:
The Cadaver Lab
Are the cadavers shared with other health professional programs? This could mean that as a PT student, you may be receiving cadavers that have been passed down from the medical students.
What is the ratio of students to cadavers and students to TAs?
Are they fully dissected by students or partially prosected (pre-dissected by someone else)? Is part of the course completed online?
- Lecture Halls
Technology: Are lectures able to be recorded for you to watch again? Do they have cameras or technology to enhance your view of demonstrations during hands-on labs?
Treatment tables: Do the classrooms have high-low tables that allow you to adjust the height of the table to optimize your safety and biomechanics during manual techniques? Or do the classrooms have standard treatment tables? How many students must share a table during class?
Does the campus have specific study spaces for DPT students?
Is the space typically crowded? Do PT students have access to these facilities late at night and over weekends?
- Adjunct Hospitals or Physical Therapy Clinics
Does the DPT program have any of these facilities on a shared campus?
Does the DPT program have interprofessional experiences with other healthcare professional programs?
Does the DPT program have any physical therapy clinics that allow for students to participate in integrated clinical experiences?
These are the main highlights of a Doctor of Physical Therapy program's campus tour. Be sure to make note of these aspects as you visit multiple campuses so that you're able to effectively compare different programs.
Also be sure to get the email of your tour guide so that you can thank them later and follow up with any other additional questions.
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