A physical therapist works with patients who, through injury or illness, have suffered a loss of mobility, and may be suffering from debilitating pain. The role of the physical therapist is to work with the patient to help reduce pain and/or restore function, and to promote quality of life. A physical therapist must enjoy physical activity and working one on one with patients. Physical therapists may work in hospitals, long term care facilities, clinics, home health agencies, schools, fitness centers, work settings, and may even have a private practice. Many physical therapists hold a master’s degree, however, few masters programs remain. Today nearly all physical therapy students are in programs which lead to the doctorate in physical therapy (DPT). For more on careers in physical therapy, visit http://www.ptcas.org/CareersEducation/. The PhD degree in physical therapy would be appropriate for someone interested in research or an academic career in that area.
It is possible to enter a dual career program in physical therapy and athletic training. These programs generally require 6-7 years of study, and prepare one to work in clinics, high schools, and universities, and with professional sports teams, to treat and rehabilitate injured athletes. There are a limited number of dual degree programs but some offer a small number of graduate assistantships, which include a tuition waiver and stipend.
Some students are interested specifically in sports medicine. In sports medicine, you work with athletes, assisting with their training and aiding in injury rehabilitation. Those employed in sports medicine can be not only physical therapists, but also MDs and certified athletic trainers. For a list of programs in sports medicine, and further information about the field, visit this web site: http://education-portal.com/schools_that_offer_sports_medicine.html.
To see a list of physical therapy required courses by program, visit this web site: http://www.ptcas.org/ProgramPrereqs/
Required courses: The courses required for admission vary by program, but in general, they include:
Biology (two semesters, but some schools require an additional upper division course.)
Chemistry (one to two semesters. The second semester can be general chemistry II or organic I.)
Physics (two semesters)
Psychology – some schools require an additional psych course, either abnormal psychology or developmental psychology.
Additional recommended courses:
Other useful courses:
GRE general test required
The application process:
Nearly all physical therapy graduate programs participate in PTCAS (Physical Therapist Centralized Application Service). This service allows students to submit a single application which will then be delivered to the schools to which they have chosen to apply. To learn more about the PTCAS, visit http://www.ptcas.org/home.aspx.
Years of post-graduate education required:
List of schools that offer degrees in physical therapy