Sooner Rather Than Later: Early Action Tips for Pre-PTs

As I look back on my pre-physical therapy journey that began in three years ago, I realized that many big decisions had to occur to get where I am today as a second year PT student. Most those decisions resulted in early action in which a simple thought or an idea lead to a plan of steps that were implemented into some sort of action plan that favored “premature” activity instead of “on-time” activity. As a mentor to Pre-PT students, I have always emphasize the importance of being early in anything they do. An important saying that one of my mentors, Greg, also says is that “speed wins”. No matter what task you have at hand, you are already winning if you have an early head start than your peers.

1. Make the Leap to Apply Early

One major “speed wins” decision that I am glad I took early action on was applying early to physical therapy school, specifically early decision.  During the beginning of my junior year of undergrad, I wasted no time in researching about the school I was eager to attend. Throughout the process is when I found out ahead of time that my particular school that I wanted to attend predominately accepts applicants from the early decision applicant pool. Based on that new information, I made sure I planned out accordingly to make sure all materials were in way before the early decision deadline. These things included the basics such as when PTCAS opened, how many hours I needed to complete for my specific school,  planning out when I was going to request my transcripts,  ensuring I had talked to my teachers and the physical therapists I volunteered about the letter of recommendations and references way ahead of time and making sure the GRE was completed and transcripts were requested in time. In addition to the perks of this school accepting early applicants with early decision, I knew I only had one school to deal with which was kind of a big stress relief.  I spent less money on applications fees and more time focusing on completing my final year of undergrad which is huge when you compare early decision verses applying to multiple schools. I also knew this early decision process would help unload the stress of attending multiple interviews and traveling to different schools which also comes with applying to many schools. The whole experience in applying to physical therapy school early helped a lot with these factors which is why I encourage students to go all for the early decision route if that best fits their goals and situation. 

2. Networking and Creating Your Brand Early is Key

Pre-PTs students should be taking early action NOW on networking and creating your own personal brand. I began this process almost a year ago (end of my first year of PT school) right before joining Smart Success PT and I wish I was told earlier to take this on before beginning graduate school. The physical therapy profession is a very small world and with that being said, many opportunities can arise just from having a simple and engaging conversation with another individual in the field. I can definitely say that a few big opportunities that I have been presented with recently, such as becoming Heathy Funnel Intern for a Healthy Funnel, LLC, for an example, would have not been an option if I did not put myself out there through networking, being engaged with physical therapy-related topics on social media and connecting with other physical therapist and students at conferences and events such as CSM (Combined Sections Meeting). 

3. Find a Mentor Early in the Process

Find yourself a mentor or an individual that you are inspired by and learn from their experiences to avoid making mistakes down the road that could have been prevented. It has only been a couple years since I decided to seek out mentors in order to help guide me through my journey into becoming a physical therapist and let me say…. I have learned so much already! In addition to the things you will learn, you also will gain support and confidence in yourself when trying to navigate the complicated process of becoming a Doctor of Physical Therapy. And for that reason, I encourage you to reach out of your comfort zone and find yourself a mentor or a support system that can help you through your journey into becoming a physical therapist!

-Jasmine Williams 


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