How to Become a Physical Therapist in Three years
How to become a physical therapist involves an extensive amount of training that often results in a doctoral degree or a master’s degree in physical therapy. These PT training programs are highly competitive and often require the completion of a bachelor’s degree and a determined GPA.
What does the PT do?
A PT, also known as a physical therapist, is a type of medical professional who diagnoses and treats people of all ages who have health-related conditions that limit their ability to perform functional daily activities.
A physical therapist will examine each patient and create a plan of care using treatment techniques to increase and prevent the loss of mobility, prevent disability and restore function. Additionally, the PT will work with people to develop wellness and fitness oriented programs for a more active, healthier lifestyle.
The PT provides care to people in a number of settings including private practices, hospitals, clinics, fitness facilities, nursing homes, and home healthcare agencies. State licensure is required in every state in order to work in this field.
A physical therapist will manage and diagnose movement dysfunction and will work to enhance function and physical abilities. They will also work to maintain, restore and promote optimal wellness and physical function for improved quality of life as it relates to health and movement.
PT Training Programs
Programs for physical therapy are offered as a master’s or doctoral degree from an accredited school. In order to gain acceptance into a master’s or doctoral program, the aspiring PT must first obtain a bachelor’s degree.
After graduating from a master’s or doctoral program, the graduate must then take and pass a state-administered exam. Upon passing, the PT will need to meet any additional requirements before they’re eligible to practice.
Every degree program will differ from state to state and will have a specific curriculum that aspiring PTs will need to take in order to qualify for graduation.
Before you begin physical therapy specific curriculum, you must first successfully pass general education courses that are designed to help you to prepare for physical therapy specific coursework. These classes include statistics, humanities, professional writing, English, chemistry, physics, biology, and psychology. The doctoral and master’s degree programs are typically three years in length. Once you begin a degree program, the courses will become more focused on the PT practice. These courses can include clinical medical science courses that will emphasize the practice and theory of physical therapy. Aside from classroom learning, this type of program will also require students to apply what they’ve learned in class through hands-on clinical work in a variety of medical settings. Most programs will require an average of twenty-eight weeks of clinical experience.
The doctoral or master’s degree program you choose must be accredited by the CAPTE, otherwise, you will not qualify for the licensure exam. There are several other factors you should consider when researching education programs, such as program curriculum and structure, types of training opportunities and clinical education, student demographics, facilities, licensure pass rates, admission requirements, employment rates, the length of the program, and financial aid opportunities.
Physical Therapist Duties
The physical therapist will treat their patients by teaching them different types of exercises that are designed to stretch or strengthen muscles and reduce pain. Prior to this, the PT will consult with the patient regarding their symptoms in order to develop a plan of care. Throughout the entire process, a large part of the job will include being understanding and supportive. Providing encouragement is just as important as the physical aspect of the work.
Typical physical therapist duties include consulting with patients to learn about their physical symptoms and condition. They will teach patients how to properly use exercise techniques, providing massage or stimulation, use devices and equipment to assist patients and maintain accurate patient records. They must also keep track of a patient’s progress and goals and advise the patient and their family about exercises and other in-home treatment options.
A day in the life of a physical therapist will depend on how many patients they see and what stage of treatment of each patient is in. One day, the PT will examine a new patient by performing tests and reviewing their medical history so they can identify the problem. The same day, they may be involved in designing a care plan for a different patient who has a medical condition that can be addressed in the PT’s scope of practice. The best physical therapist will work hard to educate each patient regarding the cause of their problem.
After a patient has followed physical therapy techniques for treatment for a period of one month, they can reexamine their patients and make changes to the plan of care if needed. If a patient is close to being discharged from care, the PT can also provide them with tips on care and exercises so that they’re able to prevent an injury from occurring in the future.
Final Thoughts on the Physical Therapy Career
The PT can treat patients of all ages who suffer from injuries, medical problems and other health related issues that have affected their ability to function and move around in their daily lives. The purpose of physical therapy is to create a customized care plan, following an exam using the most effective techniques so that they can minimize the patient’s discomfort while restoring function and also preventing permanent or long-term injuries.
There’s a need for PTs in several different settings. It’s common for the physical therapist to be employed by home health companies, clinics, hospitals, insurance companies, private practices, sports facilities, public schools, nursing homes, and occupational therapy settings. If the physical therapist wants to work in a specific setting or with a certain population, such as with children or the elderly, they may need to undergo additional clinical training.
Working as a physical therapy specialist means you have completed a focused area of study. This type of qualification can require additional training and education but will ultimately lead to more employment opportunities and a higher annual salary. Additional certifications may also be required depending on the state you practice in.