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Journey of a DPT Student

Specialty Affiliations

Published March 12, 2012 2:28 PM by Lauren Rosso

As my first year is coming to an end (which is hard to believe), I'm starting to think about potential specialty areas for next fall's affiliation. The first clinicals were assigned to us, and the only requirement was that we each experience both an outpatient and inpatient setting. Aside from that, we didn't have much say in our placements. This coming fall, however, we can choose to specialize in a number of areas. Some are very specific: dance, aquatics and hand therapy. Other "specialties" are setting-dependent. I seem to be having a harder time with the latter. I can confidently say that I'm not going to specialize in dance therapy, but I can't decide what to do when it comes to acute, subacute or neuro rehabilitation.

The majority of my clinical rotations have thus far been outpatient, which is why I am leaning toward some sort of inpatient setting in the fall. I just can't decide between the different options that are available to us. I want to be in the setting where I will acquire the widest range of skills, but I honestly don't know what that would be. My gut tells me that subacute rehab will be best, however I'm not familiar enough with the different settings to know if that's correct.

Life was so simple when the rotations were assigned to us. Now that we can choose, I'm starting to realize I'm inching closer and closer to a career in physical therapy. I still have a long way to go, but these types of decisions make the end seem much more tangible.


Dana- there are so many specialties that I don't know about either!  I would check out the APTA website to see the different subgroups.  PT has a lot more options than I originally thought!

Lauren Rosso May 4, 2012 2:31 PM

First I want to say thank you for sharing your experiences. It is helpful to read your blog because I can identify with much of what you have been through. I has no idea we could specialize in dance therapy? I am interested in aquatics as I have been a swimmer all my life.

Dana Pedersen May 3, 2012 1:49 PM
Brecksville OH

Well, it's only the middle of my 2nd week so I haven't rotated out of rehab, but I think the right VA would be a great opportunity.  Mine seems like a very positive learning experience so far, and the staff is great.  Again, I'd just recommend checking out previous comments from other student clinicals and contacting sites early to do some research into the experience you want!

Tasha P March 20, 2012 6:56 PM

Tasha, it sounds like you have some exciting things coming up!  I would love to have a rotation with the VA, but I'm not sure if I'll be able to do it.  How was it?  As for me, I'm excited to try everything possible.  It seems like the most logical thing to do as a student (that way I'll always have someone watching me to make sure I don't screw up.)

Good luck with everything!

Lauren Rosso March 18, 2012 10:57 AM

Hey!  As I'm winding down on my semester, I've been reflecting a ton on my own experiences.  I applaud you for choosing a clinical with the hopes of gaining the widest variety of skills possible.  If you can, I would recommend getting in touch with the contact person at the variety of clinical sites you are pursuing. Ask them what the patient caseload is like, or ask if you'll have the opportunity to rotate to different aspects of inpatient care.  It's some up-front work, but it might help ya in your selections. Ask any previous students that have rotated at that site.  If the contact person doesn't have a clear answer, state your interest in rotating in an inpatient setting.  They might be able to work it out!  FYI, I'm finishing at a VA hospital.  I will be rotating between rehab, acute medicine, and the ICU. Good luck!

Tasha P March 17, 2012 7:26 PM

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