Physical therapists are healthcare professionals who deal with patients who have limited ability to move and function due to injury or some other medical condition. These PTs examine the patient and develop a treatment plan to increase function and movement as well as to lessen pain and prevent disability.If you’re interested in becoming a physical therapist you should have good interpersonal skills and love helping and dealing with people. Patience and compassion are two other good qualities to have since you will be helping debilitating patients who are facing physical challenges that can be tough to handle.
A PT also develops fitness and wellness programs for clients that are healthier and enjoy a more active lifestyle. This is a preventative measure to reduce or eliminate loss of mobility before it ever occurs. Anyone who wishes to become a physical therapist must start by graduating from one of many accredited physical therapy programs.
Physical Therapy Programs
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics there were 212 accredited physical therapy programs in 2009. Only graduate programs are accredited, and of these 212 accredited programs, 12 granted master’s degrees (MPT, MSPT, MS) and 200 granted doctoral (DPT) degrees. To be admitted you should have been already working at least three years on an undergraduate baccalaureate degree.
Master’s programs usually last 2 to 2.5 years while doctoral degree programs typically last 3 years. The Commission on Accreditation of Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE) is the accrediting organization of the American Physical Therapy Association. CAPTE accredits academic programs that are entry-level.
Physical therapy programs vary somewhat from one state to another. Typically, before you can be accepted into a program you must pass a number of general education classes. These may include chemistry, biology, psychology, physics, English, statistics and the humanities.
After acceptance into the PT program you will take courses directly related to physical therapy. These include medical science courses, laboratory instruction and supervised clinical experience. Students will become skilled at diagnostic processes, medical screening procedures, therapeutic interventions, examination tests, practice management and outcomes assessment. It is a challenging curriculum that is well worth it to enter this rewarding career.
Physical Therapy Final Exam
Once you have completed one of the physical therapy programs, you must pass the National Physical Therapy Examination and any other state requirements to obtain your license. Continuing education classes may also be required to maintain licensure. You may wish to specialize in sports medicine, pediatrics or neurology.
Your counselor can inform you about additional training for a specialty certification. It is a great time to enter the field as PT employment is predicted to grow by 30 percent between 2008 and 2018.
Video Overview Of What A College Physical Therapy Program Is Like
This video was produced by the University of New Mexico and gives a fantastic behind the scenes look at a college physical therapy program.
Top 5 States For Employment
Here are the top 5 U.S. states for employment when it comes to physical therapy. Take a look at their average annual wage data…
- Employment openings: 14,680, annual wage: $84,600
- New York
- Employment openings: 13,740, annual wage: $77,160
- Employment openings: 11,870, annual wage: $86,390
- Employment openings: 11,070, annual wage: $81,410
- Employment openings: 9,160, annual wage: $76,220