Physical therapists are movement experts who help people live better lives by prescribing exercise, providing hands-on care, and educating patients. Physical therapists diagnose and treat people of all ages, from newborns to the elderly. A physical therapist (PT) assesses, diagnoses, and treats patients who have disorders that limit their ability to move or function normally in everyday life. People with good interpersonal skills and a desire to assist others with physical limitations may be a good fit for this career. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment opportunities for physical therapists could increase by 18% between 2019 and 2029. (BLS). This is much faster than average job growth, owing to an aging population’s need for rehabilitative services to manage illness or injury and recover from surgery. Job opportunities should be best in settings that care for the elderly. Rural areas are also expected to provide good job opportunities.
What Qualifications Are Required to Be a Physical Therapist?
Acquire a Bachelor’s Degree in a Relevant Field.
Students must typically have a bachelor’s degree in a field related to health science, exercise, and/or sports. Some graduate programs may also require students to take prerequisite courses in physics, kinesiology, biology, chemistry, physiology, and anatomy. Examine the prerequisites for the doctoral programs you’re interested in, and make sure you take the classes you’ll need.
Complete the Required Observation Hours.
Most Doctors of Physical Therapy (DPT) programs require applicants to prove that they have completed physical therapy observations. Aspiring physical therapists can fulfill these hours by volunteering or working with a licensed physical therapist, who can then sign off on the number of hours observed.
Earn a Doctor of Physical Therapy Degree.
Following that, students must enroll in and complete a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program that is accredited. DPT programs start with didactic courses in psychophysiology, imaging, bio mechanics, anatomy, and other topics. Students complete their white coat ceremony and enter the clinic for hands-on rotations supervised by a clinical instructor during the second year of the program.
A simulation component may also be included in more innovative schools. For example, each of the five campuses of the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences (USAHS), the largest PT school in the United States1, has a state-of-the-art simulation center. DPT students can practice clinical interactions with dummy patients before entering the clinic.
Some graduate schools also provide novel scheduling options. The DPT program at USAHS is available in two formats:
On weekdays, this format combines online coursework with in-person clinical labs. It usually takes less than three years to finish.
This format combines online coursework with in-person clinical labs on specific weekends throughout the month. It is intended for working students and usually takes four years to complete. 1
Pass the NPTE
To become a licensed physical therapist, you must pass the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy’s National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) (FSBPT). The computer-based exam contains 250 multiple-choice questions divided into five sections. It is graded on a scale of 200–800, with a 600 or higher considered passing. The NPTE is available four times a year: in January, April, July, and October. The FSBPT allows candidates to take it three times in a calendar year. In 2019, 91 percent of first-time candidates who graduated from US-accredited physical therapy programs passed the NPTE.
Obtain a Practice License.
Each state’s licensing process is unique. Most states require practitioners to not only pass the NPTE but also to meet additional requirements such as compliance training, background checks, and so on. In most states, physical therapists must meet continuing education requirements every two years in order to keep their license. Continuing education courses keep physical therapists up to date on the standards and trends in the health professions. Check with your state board to find out what your licensing requirements are.
Physical Therapists After Graduation
After becoming a licensed physical therapist, you may want to consider advancing your career with a residency or fellowship program. Alternatively, you can become board-certified with a specialty focus.
Finish a Residency Program
A clinical residency is a postgraduate program that consists of additional training, coursework, and clinical experiences. A residency is an excellent way to begin specializing in your field of interest. Fellowship programs in physical therapy are also available.
Acquire Board Certification
Physical therapists can become board-certified clinical specialists through the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties after becoming licensed and gaining work experience in the field (ABPTS).
How Much Can Specialty Areas Be Pursued?
Cardiovascular and Pulmonary, Clinical Neurophysiology’s, Geriatrics, Neurology, Oncology, Orthopedics, Pediatrics, Sports, Wound Management, and Women’s Health are the ten specialties of physical therapy.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Job as a Physical Therapist?
It can take anywhere from three to eight years to become a physical therapist. Before enrolling in a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program, you must first obtain a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution, preferably with a major in health science. For full-time students, a bachelor’s degree typically takes three to four years to complete. Then you must enroll in a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program, which will take three to four years to complete.
Which Characteristics Should a Physical Therapist Develop?
Compassion, communication skills, attention to detail, dexterity, physical stamina, creative thinking, and the ability to manage time wisely are all qualities that will help you in your PT career.
Where Can You Find a Physical Therapist?
Because the physical therapy profession will require you to work in a variety of settings with a wide range of patient ages and issues, you will have a plethora of options and opportunities when starting your physical therapy practice.
Among the physical therapy settings are:
Hospitals, Clinics for outpatients, Fitness and sports training facilities, Rehabilitation centers for inpatients, Nursing homes and long-term care facilities, Patients’ residences, Schools, and educational institutions, Virtually.
If you enjoy independence and entrepreneurship, you can start your own private practice. You could also pursue a position in healthcare administration or join an existing office with other physical and occupational therapists.
Information on Advancement
PTs can participate in continuing education to stay current on the latest advancements in physical therapy, in addition to earning specialty certification as a way to advance their careers. Professional organizations, such as the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), national host conferences, live classes, and online courses for practicing physical therapists. Some physical therapists go on to open their own private practices, while others choose to conduct research or teach.
What Exactly Is Physical Therapist Education?
The education and experience required to become a physical therapist are referred to as physical therapist training. Physical therapists, or PTs as they are commonly known, are licensed health professionals who work with people who have impairments, disabilities, or limitations in functionality or mobility as a result of an injury, illness, or disease. Some physical therapists also assist their patients in avoiding injuries. Physical therapist training includes both formal education and the hands-on experience that PTs require in order to successfully help their patients.
How to Select a Physical Therapist Education Program?
Once you’ve decided that you want to be a physical therapist, follow these simple steps to find the right program:
Determine Your Major
When deciding on a career path in physical therapy, there are two degrees to consider: A Doctor of Physical Therapy and a Master’s in Physical Therapy. A DPT is the most common degree awarded to aspiring physical therapists. There are, however, some colleges that offer a Master’s degree in Physical Therapy. DPT programs typically take three years to complete, whereas master’s programs can frequently be completed in just one year. Employers may require candidates to have a doctorate, so keep that in mind. Nonetheless, a Master’s degree in Physical Therapy qualifies you to work as a PT, but with a lower entry barrier.
Look Into the School’s Accreditation
Accreditation indicates that the program or school has met the highest standards set by the accrediting organization. Schools that are not accredited are ineligible for government programs such as financial aid. Furthermore, if you attend a non-accredited school as a student, other schools may not accept the credits from coursework you completed. That means that if you earned your bachelor’s or master’s degree from a non-accredited institution and later applied to a DPT program, the program may not accept the coursework you completed, forcing you to retake the prerequisite courses.
Examine the Prerequisites
Most physical therapy schools have similar prerequisites, such as requiring students to pass specific courses. Some DPT programs, on the other hand, only accept physiology or anatomy coursework completed in anatomy, biology, neuroscience, or integrated physiology department. Courses that combine physiology and anatomy may be rejected by other programs. It’s critical to examine the prerequisites for admission carefully in order to determine which school best aligns with the coursework you’ve already completed.
How to Advance Your Physical Therapist Education?
While the basic training requirements for becoming a physical therapist are extensive, there are some additional options you could pursue if you want to complete more training. This education can help you specialize in a specific area or qualify you for more advanced roles as a physical therapist.
Finish a Residency and Fellowship Program
After completing your DPT program, you can apply for a clinical residency program to gain additional training and experience in specialty areas. This type of training typically lasts a year. You can also further specialize by pursuing a fellowship in a specific clinical area.
Obtain Board Certification
Following your time as a physical therapist, you may want to consider pursuing board certification in one of the eight clinical specialties offered by the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties. To be eligible for certification, you must either complete an APT-accredited residency program in your area of specialty or complete a minimum of 2,000 hours of clinical work in that area. In addition, you must pass a certifying exam for the specialization.
What Are the Benefits of Being a Physical Therapist?
Work on Your Fitness as Well as Your Clients
Physical therapy is a physically demanding job that requires you to demonstrate stretches and exercises to your clients and may require you to workout alongside them. Regardless of whether you go that far, this is not a job where you sit at a desk all day, so be prepared to exercise on a regular basis!
Discover More About the Body’s Systems
Whether you intend to study kinesiology, neurology, sports medicine, or any other field of medicine, working as a physical therapist provides you with a wide range of hands-on experiences that only a few medical careers can offer. You will work with clients who have been in car accidents, who have mobility issues due to aging, and who have motor skill challenges, and you will learn which methods work best for the various needs of your clients.
A Schedule That Is Convenient for You
Unlike hospital doctors, who typically work long shifts and a staggering average of 60 hours per week, physical therapists can set their own schedules based on the number of clients they have and how frequently they require treatment. This means you can work for a comfortable 8-hour day while still having time to relax with friends and family.
Work From Anywhere You Want
There is always a need for more physical therapists to relieve the pain of the local townspeople, and this is a major benefit for those looking to travel to new places and bring comfort to all. Unlike doctors, who require expensive medications and sterile facilities, physical therapists only require open space and some exercise equipment to start their own practice.
So, these are the steps to be followed in Order to Become a Physical Therapist. We hope that you have found this article helpful, and also it has answered your questions!