Professional Path: physiotherapy

Becoming a Physical Therapist:

Within the last 10 years, the Physical Therapy (PT) program in Canada has transitioned from a baccalaureate degree to a master’s degree. So, what does that mean to those of you who want to become a PT? Below is the process I went through on my journey to PT school at the University of Saskatchewan. Keep in mind, that each school’s admission criteria may be a little different, so I suggest you check the university’s admission page of the program you are applying to for more details!

Academically, you must have a completed 4-year baccalaureate degree prior to starting your masters program. Your undergraduate degree can be in any discipline, but you do require certain prerequisite courses. Usually the prerequisite courses required are human physiology, anatomy, and statistical methods; however, these may vary between different PT programs. The minimum admission average accepted at the U of S is 70%, and this average is calculated using the most recent 60 credit units.

Once you’ve completed your degree, or are well on your way to completion, you must apply to the PT program. This is an application form (most are online now) that must be completed in the fall for admission the following August. If you are in your final year of your undergraduate degree and you are hoping to transition right into PT school, you would apply in the fall of your final year prior to completing your degree in the spring. There is usually an administrative fee associated with your application; these vary in cost. As part of your application, you also have to send in your official transcripts for calculation of your admission average. These must be sent through your previous/current university’s Registrar’s Office, not the print out from your online student account. There is usually a cost associated with sending your transcripts as well. Make sure to send these early so they arrive on time. If you are still completing your degree, you must send your final marks from your fall semester of study once those grade are completed, followed by your finalized undergraduate transcript in the spring. There are deadlines for transcript submission, so make sure you check the exact dates on the university’s admissions page.

Now that you’ve applied, you get to play the waiting game... What are you waiting for? To hear if you have received an opportunity to interview for the school of PT! At the U of S, the students with the top 96 admission averages are granted an interview. The number of interviewees differs between schools. The multiple mini interview (MMI) process is usually completed in early spring. MMIs entail several interview stations (7-10 stations, usually 10 minutes per station) that are independent of one another; meaning, the candidate moves from station to station, meeting a new scenario and new evaluator at each station. The interview evaluates a number of different things, such as self evaluation and ethical decision making, with your final interview score being the average of your critical thinking, communication, and professionalism scores.

To determine who gets into the program, your admission average and your interview score are weighted to determine your overall score. At the U of S, for example, your admission average counts for 60 percent and your interview score counts for 40 percent of your final score. Of the interviewed candidates, a certain number of candidates (40 at the U of S) with the top overall score are offered admission to the school.

Once you have been accepted there are usually a few more things to complete. Make sure to send in your final transcripts by the deadline if you are still working on your undergraduate degree. There are usually requirements for CPR, immunization, and a criminal record check that need to be fully completed and sent in by a certain deadline prior to the start of classes in the fall. As previously stated, make sure to refer to the webpage of the university you are applying to for exact details on admission requirements. These websites are usually pretty user friendly and lay out the application process quite well. Good luck :-)

Teagan Fidek, MPT