As a physical therapist, you have many options for the path your career will take. If you’re interested in working with children, then you may be considering a pediatric outpatient or school-based position. Our team at Pediatric Therapeutic Services (PTS) discusses the differences between school-based and outpatient PT here.
What is Outpatient PT?
Outpatient PT occurs in a clinic where a child and their parent can visit to receive care and leave the same day. The clinic is likely devoted to physical and occupational therapy and staffed with those trained to evaluate and progress PT goals. Outpatient clinics may also have more sensory or gross motor equipment available during physical therapy sessions.
At an outpatient clinic, the goals of physical therapy can be broad since they may address many facets of a child’s daily life. Outpatient PT is often more frequent, intensive, and based on medical needs. PTs will keep parents updated on their child’s progress.
What is School-Based PT?
School-based PT takes place in schools. Children who receive school-based physical therapy typically need an IEP (Individualized Education Program) or a 504 plan to be considered for these school-based services. Physical therapists in schools may coordinate with parents, teachers, administrators, and each other to help a student as much as possible.
The physical therapy that takes place in schools will focus on supporting the child in an academic environment. The overall goal of school-based therapy is to help a child physically access school as independently as possible. A PT may help a student work on coordination in order to participate more fully in PE with their classmates or help build core strength for better desk chair balance and sitting for task completion or stair navigation.
School-based physical therapy can be done as a classroom-wide push-in session, or in a one-on-one or group session. The goal with PTS in a school setting is to ensure students can receive the supports they need in the least restrictive environment (LRE). Being in a familiar environment can help students thrive and be more comfortable when physical therapy exercises are completed.
Can Outpatient PT and School-Based PT Work Together?
Some students and their families may undergo both school-based and outpatient PT. Since the settings will likely focus on different skills, the student will benefit from both. It may be helpful for both physical therapists to coordinate and discuss the child’s progress in sessions.
School-based physical therapists working alongside PTS will have the opportunity to work with several students, some of whom may be receiving support outside of school, and some may not. With PTS’s Multi-Tiered Systems of Support approach, we can ensure you’ll help students receive the right level of support they need to succeed.
Work Alongside PTS As a School-Based Physical Therapist
If you’re interested in helping students access their education to the fullest and building your career as a physical therapist, apply to work alongside PTS in our partnering districts. We will set you up to succeed with your students by providing plenty of resources and guidance. Apply for a school-based PT position today.