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Full Story

PTCAS Response to COVID-19

Mar 27, 2020

On behalf of the Physical Therapist Centralized Application Service and the American Physical Therapy Association, we hope that you are safe and healthy during these unprecedented times. We understand the challenges DPT education programs are facing as a result of the global COVID-19 pandemic. We wish to reassure everyone involved in the admissions process that we are all this together, and we will continue collectively working through the challenges presented. While the planned pathway to DPT education has likely changed for many future students, PTCAS is committed to offering guidance and recommendations to DPT programs and applicants to help alleviate the fears and concerns many may have during the current and upcoming application cycles.

First and foremost, please know that PTCAS operations remain open and functioning at full capacity. Staff at APTA are working our regular schedule to respond to program and applicant inquires; the application processing team continues to verify and release completed applications to designated programs; and the customer support teams for programs and applicants continue to provide uninterrupted service.

To that end, PTCAS staff have been gathering information and recommendations for DPT programs as they conclude the current 2019-20 admissions cycle and prepare for the upcoming 2020-21 cycle. We fully understand that each DPT education program will ultimately make its own determinations as to the best course of action with regard to application and admission processes, and we offer the information below solely as guidance. If your program makes changes to the application or admissions process as a result of COVID-19, you are encouraged to clearly describe these changes on your program website in an easily identified area, as PTCAS will be directing applicants to your website for additional information.

In addition to the recommendations put forward, PTCAS staff is aware that application deadline dates, interview dates and processes, deposit dates and methods, and program start dates may be impacted. As much of this information is included in your PTCAS Program Directory page, and on your program’s page within the PTCAS application, we understand that updates to your content may be necessary for both the current and upcoming cycles.

If changes are needed to the content your program has supplied, please reach out directly to Courtney Merritt at courtneymerritt@apta.org for assistance.

With regard to the upcoming 2020-21 application cycle, PTCAS remains scheduled open to applicants on June 17, 2020, with applicant information to be shared with programs beginning on July 1, 2020. As the open of the next cycle draws closer, PTCAS will revisit these recommendations and internal policy changes to determine if they should be extended into the new cycle or not. As determinations are made, they will be shared with you and published in the new COVID-19 section of the PTCAS website.

Outside of these policy changes and recommendations, PTCAS staff in conjunction with the PTCAS work group have decided to add an additional question to the application for the upcoming cycle. The new optional question is intended to allow applicants to share with designated programs how the COVID-19 pandemic has specifically impacted their journey toward DPT education, either personally or educationally. While the question text is still being finalized with the work group, a draft of the new optional essay question is below:

If you feel as though your pathway to a physical therapist education program was educationally, personally, or professionally impacted by the global covid-19 pandemic, please describe for your programs the impact you experienced. Some impacts you may want to consider when responding include:

  • Educational: Did your institution move to requiring online or distance coursework? Were you able to effectively interact with your professors and receive the support needed to succeed? Were you required to move to a Pass/Fail grading system? Did your GRE testing date get canceled or delayed?
  • Personal: Did you unexpectedly have to change your living situation? Did you need to care for a loved one who was directly impacted? Did you seek out new volunteer opportunities that arose from the crisis?
  • Professional: Did you lose a job or need to seek new opportunities? Were your shadowing experiences shortened, delayed, or canceled? Did you face other professional or financial barriers?
As this situation continues to evolve, PTCAS staff will continue to monitor the impacts on the application and admission processes and share relevant updates and information. As always, please do not hesitate to contact Courtney Merritt (courtneymerritt@apta.org) or Ryan Bannister (ryanbannister@apta.org) with questions or comments. 

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