Category: News

Where To Look For OT Volunteer Opportunities

ot volunteer opportunities

Pursuing a career in occupational therapy (OT) is highly valuable and fulfilling. But like any other healthcare field, it’s no easy feat! You’ll need to learn different practices and techniques to provide the best care for your patients.

While OT programs are designed to help you learn the ins and outs of the job, it makes a huge difference to immerse yourself in the work environment through occupational therapy volunteer opportunities. There are tons of places to find them—and in fact, you can even volunteer abroad to learn in a new environment, discover new healthcare practices, improve your interpersonal skills, and increase your cultural intelligence and cross–cultural communication skills.

If you aren’t sure where or how to start looking for OT volunteer opportunities, we’ve outlined five places where you can look.

occupational therapy in orange CA

Where to Look for Occupational Therapy Volunteer Opportunities

Generally, Google is a great starting point if you have no idea where to look. Just type in key phrases like “occupational therapy volunteer opportunities abroad,” and you should find various options in the search results. But to tailor your search, here are some specific places you can search for volunteer openings, all of which also include abroad opportunities:

Study Abroad Programs

If you want to be an occupational therapy volunteer abroad, the best place to look will be OT internships or study abroad programs. These are designed specifically to help aspiring OTs hone their knowledge and skills in the field while in a different country. With this, you won’t need to worry about things like language barriers since you’ll be guided throughout the program.

Aside from getting real-life exposure to what the OT career’s like, you get to learn new treatments and practices from the local culture. And not to mention—you get the added perk of traveling and sightseeing.

For example, Therapy Abroad offers an occupational therapy internship abroad in Bulgaria & Greece. Some key activities in the program include the following:

  • Attending group reflections and one-on-one sessions with professional Bulgarian OTs
  • Hosting a health camp with skills-based stations
  • Working with Thai PT and OT university students to design health camps
  • Providing essential services like screening and direct rehabilitation to promote health, fitness, and wellness
  • Practicing communication skills and learning about Thai culture

By having experience abroad, you ultimately get a broader perspective about the field, immerse yourself in a new culture, and gain an edge in your studies or career. Schools and employers recognize the value of international experience, so attending study abroad programs can help you get into your dream OT school or role.

Rehabilitation Centers

rehabilitation center

Rehabilitation centers are always looking for volunteers to help out, whether in your local area or abroad. Now, one of the main advantages of this option is that you’re usually exposed to different departments or services, ranging from hand therapy to gerontology to mental health. Thus, you get the chance to explore different OT specializations.

As a volunteer, you’ll be tasked to do things like:

  • Filing and keeping records
  • Greeting patients and visitors
  • Conversing and interacting with residents
  • Assisting staff with different activities
  • Escorting patients to appointments

Generally, if you’re still unsure what path to pursue in OT school, you can volunteer in a rehab center. You may also volunteer abroad, which will be a great opportunity to work with people from different cultures and assist patients along the way.

Children’s Hospitals

ot volunteer in childrens hospital

If you’re fond of kids and enjoy working around them, you can search for volunteer opportunities in your local children’s hospitals. You get to meet different children and get an insider view of the day-to-day activities in the hospital. Some of your key responsibilities as a volunteer include:

  • Filing and photocopying
  • Socializing and playing with children in waiting rooms
  • Rocking or holding infants who need interaction
  • Assisting children with play activities
  • Assisting OTs during treatment and therapy sessions

Overall, volunteering in a children’s hospital is more hands-on since you really get to interact with the kids and even assist professional OTs. Of course, while this option is open to anyone, it appeals the most to those who plan to specialize in pediatric occupational therapy.


Another similar option you can explore is Bulgaria & Greece: Pre-Occupational Therapy Program, which allows you to work with licensed PTs and OTs in Thailand to Bulgaria. Like children’s hospital opportunities, this program also involves working primarily with children. But the experience will be even better since you get to step out of your comfort zone and meet people from different backgrounds.

Special Needs Programs

Volunteering in special needs programs is perfect for aspiring OTs who are patient and compassionate about helping people. Compared to the other options, the volunteer opportunities here are usually more focused on building soft skills like socialization, mentoring, teamwork, and others.

To give you a better idea, here are some things you can expect to do as an OT volunteer:

  • Teaching children
  • Working with local caregivers
  • Interacting with individuals with disabilities
  • Participating in initiatives like planting

This option is undoubtedly one of the most rewarding volunteer opportunities you can take, especially if you do it abroad. Here, you get to work with different non-government organizations (NGOs) in the area, allowing you to learn more about the local health sector and unique practices.

Matching Platforms

This option is slightly different from the rest, but it’s still worth a shot if you haven’t found any lead. Matching platforms are sites that help connect you to volunteer openings based on your skills and location.

One popular example is VolunteerMatch, which allows you to find volunteer opportunities from non-profit organizations. What’s nice about the platform is that you can refine your search based on specific criteria. Examples of OT-related cause areas include health and medicine, people with disabilities, children and youth, and many others. So if you’re interested in volunteer opportunities abroad, you can filter your search to specific countries you’d like to visit.

Looking for OT Volunteer Opportunities Abroad?

volunteer teaching childrens

OT volunteer opportunities are a great way to prepare for a future OT career. Now, while you can volunteer in your local communities, there are so many more benefits to taking an occupational therapy internship or volunteer opportunities abroad.

You not only get to travel but also develop hard skills like medical and anatomical expertise and the ability to do diverse healthcare practices, as well as soft skills like adaptability, communication, cultural competence, and multi-disciplinary thinking. These ultimately allow you to stand out in front of employers as you won’t be able to build such skills without the help of occupational therapy volunteer opportunities abroad.

So if you’re interested, Therapy Abroad provides the perfect avenue to expand your OT knowledge and skills. Learn more about the Therapy Abroad PPT and OT Program by contacting us at 949-423-6165 or send us an inquiry on our website.

Filed under: News, Blog

How to Get Physical Therapy Observation Hours?

students having physical therapy observation hours

There are nearly 1.7 billion people across the globe who experience some type of musculoskeletal condition, with 568 million complaining about back pain. Moreover, these conditions will continue to surge in the next decade as the population and aging rates increase across the board.

In other words, many people could benefit from physical therapy services right away, and demand will continue to increase in the future. For this reason, physical therapy is an in-demand career choice. But before you become a professional in the field, you need to know how to get physical therapy observation hours as required by many PT schools. 

students having physical therapy observation hours

What Are Physical Therapy Observation Hours?

A reputable physical therapy school will require its students to undergo observation hours as part of the application process to join a course. This includes spending time volunteering or as a paid intern with a licensed physical therapist. You can observe the therapist treating patients as you help with cleaning treatment areas or administrative roles, such as filing paperwork. The idea is to get a snippet of how the profession works and decide if it fits you.

The number of hours required for observation varies with institutions. Ensure that you check with the school to understand the minimum hours needed to meet the threshold. You can contact the administrator or access this information from the school’s official website. Moreover, some programs may need prospective students to spend a certain amount of time on both in-patient and outpatient therapy observation. 

Also, the school may not limit you to a specific location. You can get physical therapy observation hours abroad, especially if you want to gain experience among diverse people and cultures. Sometimes, this option may even be more affordable in terms of tuition fees and accommodation if you go to developing countries, not to mention the long list of benefits you’ll get out of the program.

physical therapy abroad students smiling

How to Get Physical Therapy Observation Hours

Getting physical therapy observation hours may not be hard if you easily get along with people. Even better, you can simplify the whole process by reaching out to someone who has done it before. Hopefully, they will recommend you to an acute care hospital where you can spend time with licensed professionals. This is a highly recommended option because it saves you time and resources. Alternatively, you can get PT observation hours in the following ways. 

Show Up to a Facility in Person

With the rise of digital communication, very few students will take time to show up to a therapy facility in person. Take this approach to stand out from the rest and show how much you need to enroll in their observation program. It will help if you visit the facility during morning hours before patients start streaming in. However, you’ll have to wait until a therapist is ready to see you, which could take a while. 

Schedule a Call

Sometimes you live in a distant location, and visiting physically doesn’t work for you. In that case, calling directly is a good plan. If you’re lucky, some therapists will answer your call directly. If not, you may need to schedule a proper call after communicating with a secretary or personal assistant. Either way, expect to make several calls before finding a therapist to oversee your observation hours. Ensure that you call during regular business hours to increase your chances of getting a prompt response. 

Send an Email

As mentioned earlier, you can get your physical therapy observation hours locally or abroad, depending on what the PT institution recommends. If you opt for the latter option, sending an email is an easy way to get started due to limited availability during office hours. However, you’ll need to send tens of emails to different therapists before getting a good response. Some may even ignore your emails. Even worse, sending multiple emails at once increases the chances of ending in the spam folder. So, this method will probably be less effective than others listed here. 

Contact the Local School District

There is a high chance of getting observational hours in school therapy because it’s a less popular option for many PT students. You can start your search locally to ensure you exhaust the options around you before trying overseas. Do an online search on Google to get the contact details of your local school district, including directions if you prefer a physical visit. 

Online Networking

There is a growing presence of online therapy services, but still with the option of in-clinic treatment. It’s easier to connect with these clinics through various social media channels, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Even better, some cash-based online practices publish observation hours opportunities for students on their websites and social media pages. 

Reach Out to a Rehabilitation Center

If all these options don’t work, reach out directly to a hospital rehabilitation center. This would be a great option, especially if a volunteering center turned you down initially because they want professionals and not students. However, observation hours programs in rehabilitation centers can be pretty rigid. You’ll need to commit to an exact number of hours per week. 

Find Opportunities Abroad

If you’re interested in exploring other cultures and observe physical therapy techniques from foreign practitioners, you may get in touch with Therapy Abroad. We have programs that allow our students to develop their skills, experience their profession in a cross-cultural setting, and support local children and families with special needs.

physical therapy students talking to a patient

The Benefits of Physical Therapy Observation Hours

Completing physical therapy observation hours, whether in a skilled nursing facility, clinic, or other location, is beneficial in many ways. For instance, PT schools look at observation hours completed to verify a candidate’s eligibility. Admission committees can then determine whether the prospective candidate has a basic understanding of PT before committing to the rigorous training process. The candidate will then get admission to the institution if they meet the selection criteria. 

PT observation hours help students:

  • Understand the kind of patients physical therapists interact with in real life
  • Make informed decisions on the careers they want to pursue
  • Understand the roles and responsibilities of physical therapists 
  • Experience different clinical settings 
  • Get a recommendation letter

physical therapy observership program abroad

Physical Therapy Observation Hours Tips

Physical therapy observation hours can go for weeks, or several months, depending on the amount of time you commit per week or your school’s recommendation. Either way, you want to get the most out of your program. So, here are some tips to help you get started smoothly and finish strong. 

Know What to Wear

Dress codes may vary with clinics. Check with the physical therapist to get an idea of what they expect you to wear during your time with them. Most of the facilities around are okay with business casual wear, although some may prefer scrubs. Nevertheless, there are basic rules for a professional dress code. For instance, you should put on minimal jewelry and closed-toed shoes. 

Have Etiquette 

It will help when you demonstrate high levels of etiquette around everyone in the facility. Good habits, such as saying thank you or please can go a long way in building a healthy relationship with your physical therapist. It’s also worth mentioning that whatever you learn and exude during the observation hours will likely reflect on your recommendation letter. So, do your best to make a good impression. 

Ask Questions During Observation Hours

There is no perfect time as to when to ask the questions. Make general observations on the mood, and you’ll determine when the therapist will be ready to respond to your questions. It can either be during or after a treatment session.   

What to Do After the Program 

Thank everyone at the end of your program. Actually, it’s better to appreciate every patient that allows you to observe during their treatment sessions. Being courteous may open many doors for you in the future, including full-time employment.

Prepare for Your PT Observation Hours

Leverage this guide and learn how to get physical therapy observation hours, locally, or abroad. After that, prepare for the program to ensure you get the most out of it. For instance, check various online resources to determine the type of questions you should ask while you’re completing your observation hours. 

Do You Want to Complete Your Observation Hours Abroad?

Therapy Abroad’s award winning programs Physical Therapy programs in Thailand can give you the hands-on experience you need in a cross-cultural setting. The program is designed to help students build the skills necessary to become well-rounded PTs in the future.

Contact us today for more information.

Filed under: physical therapy abroad, News, Blog

The Best Way to Get Into Speech Language Pathology Graduate School

a speech language pathologist with a patient

According to the Speech Pathology Graduate Programs website, speech-language pathology is a field of study within the broader category of communication sciences and disorders, also known as CSD.

Speech-language pathologists work to diagnose and treat a wide variety of patients, from children to elderly adults, who have speech, communication, or swallowing disorders. 

In order to become a licensed speech-language pathologist, you must first attend SLP grad school. During your time in graduate school, you will learn how to assess, diagnose, and treat a variety of speech and swallowing disorders. You will have courses in both an academic and clinical setting. 

a speech language pathologist with a patient

Speech Pathology Grad School Requirements

The requirements for grad school will generally include a bachelor’s degree and an acceptable grade point average. In many cases, you will also need a certain score on a graduate entrance exam to increase your chances of getting accepted. You may also need a personal statement and letters of recommendation.

Here’s a list of requirements for getting into speech-language pathology grad programs:

A bachelor’s degree

There are no shortcuts here. The name itself suggests that it is a graduate school; therefore, a college degree is a prerequisite. And just like law school, you don’t have to graduate from a specific college course just to get in. In fact, according to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, you don’t have to acquire a specific major, although a degree in line with communication sciences is ideal.

A certain grade point average

The average grades that people need to get are a determining factor of the chances they have in getting into the program. However, the GPA requirement varies for different programs. What can be required from one will greatly differ from the other because of what it takes to get there and move forward from there. It must be noted though that even though the GPA varies, a competitive GPA of 3.0 is a standard. Your GPA and GRE scores can help with your application.

A GRE General Test Score

It is not mandatory as only some schools and programs offer this test. However, having this as an extra credential doesn’t hurt. If anything, it increases your chances of getting in because people would have an impression that you go the extra mile and you have the capability to excel in the field. The better your score, the better your chances are for being accepted into a graduate program.

Several letters of recommendation

A glowing review from a professional who knows you and has worked with you in the past can really give you an advantage when applying to a graduate program. When you have letters of recommendation to back you up and further strengthen your credentials, it is certainly a great help. You can ask for recommendations from school advisers and even SLPs you may know. 

A personal essay

Graduate school admissions officers want to know more about you than just your grades and test scores. Why do you want to pursue a career in speech-language pathology? What motivates you? Why would you be a great fit for their program? These are a few of the questions you may be asked to answer as part of the admissions process. Most programs and schools provide you with questions and prompts to get you started. But for others, you may have to choose your own topic to explore. 

speech language pathologist helping a little girl

How to Get into SLP Grad School

It may seem intimidating applying to grad school, but becoming a speech-language pathologist is attainable for those who are willing to put in the work. To help guide your way through this career path, here are the general steps you’ll need to take. 

Finish a college degree first

While a certain course of study isn’t required, you must have a bachelor’s degree in order to apply to grad school.

Consider taking a GRE General Test

Even though it was previously mentioned that it is not necessary, a GRE score can add to your credentials most especially when you finished a bachelor’s degree that is not related to this field. Besides, you can take this test multiple times, up to five (5) times within a year.

Observe how different speech-language pathologists do their work

Before you enter a SLP graduate program, you will want to observe several SLPs to make sure you enjoy the work. SLPs can work in a variety of settings, including preschools, colleges, private practices, corporate services, armed forces, and even the United States’ Public Health Service.

Build a network that involves speech-language pathologists

It may seem redundant, but it is important to highlight that people in your network can really help you succeed in your career. Eventually, these will be the same people who will vouch for you and refer you to institutions you can work in.

Also, building rapport and connections with actual people in this field can earn you a lifetime’s worth of mentors that can help you be better, not just as a professional but also as a person.

Do some volunteer work

Volunteering can help you gain experience in the field, and it’s also a great thing to add to your resume when applying to graduate school. It doesn’t need to be full-time work; part-time volunteering is enough. Furthermore, it allows you to discern whether you want to pursue a career in speech-language pathology at the end of the day.


What is the Best Way to Get Into SLP Grad School?

There aren’t really any shortcuts when it comes to getting into SLP grad school. If you earn a bachelor’s degree and maintain a good GPA, get an acceptable score on the necessary graduate entrance exam, and gain some volunteer experience in the field, you have a great chance of getting into SLP grad school. 


a speech language pathologist treating a little boy holding a teddy bear

FAQs About SLP Grad School

Is it hard to get into grad school for SLP?

While it’s definitely not easy, getting into SLP grad school is attainable for many people. For example, you don’t necessarily have to be a graduate of communication disorder studies to get into a good program. 

What GPA do you need to get into grad school for speech pathology?

There are no requirements for a certain GPA. It varies from program to program, but a GPA of 3.0 or higher should be acceptable.

Is a masters in speech pathology worth it?

The answer to this question is different for every individual, but we believe it is. As a speech-language pathologist, you are not just doing work that earns you money. You are also being of service to people and helping them achieve a better quality of life. It is a noble job that allows you to make a difference in the world.

What are the easiest SLP programs to get into?

According to the list from the Word Scholarship Forum, among the easiest programs to get into are New England College, Walden University, California State University Bakersfield, Boston Architectural College, Cameron University, Wilmington University, and Benedictine University.

How do I get into SLP grad school with a low GPA?

You can work on your other qualities and skills. There are resources online that can help you make a higher score on the GRE or write a fantastic personal essay. You can also talk with speech-language pathologists so that they can vouch for you. Other than that, you can also volunteer.

What is the acceptance rate to speech-language pathology grad school?

According to the American Speech-Language Hearing Association, the acceptance rate to speech pathology grad school is 39% in the recent school years. In fact, the average rate for those who got accepted was just 23.1% over a decade from 2010-2020.

How do you stand out for SLP grad school?

Just as internships are helpful in giving you real-life experience about the field of work you want to pursue, doing volunteer work can consequently do the same. What’s better is that it helps you stand out in SLP grad school because of the first-hand experience that comes together with textbook knowledge.

Woman who wants to getting into SLP graduate school helping a little girl

How To Get SLP Observation Hours Abroad And Make Your Application Stand Out

As mentioned, you can volunteer and shadow already established SLPs. But if you want to go beyond that, you can take a program yourself even when you are an undergraduate!

The Therapy Abroad SLP program in Thailand, for example, is a wonderful way to gain experience in a clinical setting, and it also looks great on your resume or grad school application. 

It is a two-week long program for undergraduate or graduate students ages 18 and above. This Therapy Abroad program helps students gain hands-on experience serving school-age children alongside professionals in the field. It is perfect for students specializing in speech-language pathology and augmentative and alternative communication (AAC). 

Nowadays, school admissions committees want to have students who are well-rounded and equipped with some experience in their intended course of study. A Therapy Abroad experience in SLP can help you make a difference in the lives of others and strengthen your application for speech-language pathology graduate programs as well.

If you’d like to learn more, you can check out this program and apply here. You only have to provide basic information and you’re ready to go through the easy admissions process!

Filed under: Speech Language Pathology, News, Blog, Graduate School