Physical Therapy Internships

Learn how physical therapy internships, residencies and fellowships can help you with honing your craft as a physical therapist. Find out what organizations to join, and what exactly goes into the various stages of being a fully developed physical therapist. Don’t let these crucial years go to waste, but instead take advantage of all the help available so you’ll be the most successful in your career.

Physical therapy internships give you the ability to receive valuable hands-on training while utilizing all the knowledge you’ve accumulated in the classroom. You’ll have to demonstrate wise clinical decision making skills, perform examinations, exhibit proper communication between patient and doctor, display excellent professional behavior and put to practice all the years of training and education you received from the physical therapy program at your school. Usually, the institution will have a contract with a hospital to help with finding internships for graduating students. For instance, If a pediatric physical therapy, there may be a children’s hospital affiliated with the institution you graduated from that offers you a chance to intern and, after a set amount of time and an interview, may offer career placement. The school you attend will send recommendations, and you may also have an American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) credentialed supervisor assigned to you.

The American Physical Therapy Association

Speaking of which, even before your physical therapy internship, joining APTA as soon as possible would be beneficial as they can help keep you up-to-date with relevant information concerning physical therapy. They have different categories for members at various stages. Memberships for licensed physical therapist (PT) and physical therapist assistants (PTA), memberships for students pursuing PT careers, postprofessional PT students and memberships for international and lifetime or retired professionals. As a student you’ll enjoy knowing about what’s actually happening in the world of physical therapy with their publication the PT Journal and PT in Motion. They provide tons of valuable resources to help you gain practical knowledge about your major, which will definitely help as you’re interning. They also help with scholarships and offer advice on dealing with the daunting student loan debt many medical students face after graduating.

Physical Therapy Residency and Fellowship

After interning, you’ll have a chance of becoming a resident physical therapist which will further gain your more experience before becoming fully licensed. You’ll typically have a specialty that you’ve chosen in your residency program, like geriatrics or sports, so that you can have a more refined learning experience that will better equip you in your career. This will give you more hands-on training in a certain, narrowed down area, preparing you for a successful career as a physical therapist. After the residency is over comes the fellowship. This is a bit more freeing for students as you typically aren’t supervised anymore, giving you increased authority to act as an attending physician. During your fellowship, you’ll be furthering your knowledge in your field of expertise even more by practicing hand therapy or orthopaedic manual physical therapy.

Physical Therapy Internships

Taking advantage of all the resources available to you and receiving sound instruction from a clinical professional’s supervision will give you the best chances of finding success in your career. It all comes down to the old saying “practice makes perfect”, and by the time you’re finished with all your internships, residencies and fellowships, you should have enough practice to step out on your own and become a full-fledged PT with no strings attached. So don’t let this valuable time go to waste, but take notes and observe experienced PTs or PTAs doing their work, trying your best to mimic the good points, while still being individualistic in your care for patients. Building friendships, networking and spending quality time with experienced professionals will prove to have a lasting effect on you for years to come.


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