What is physical therapy? How do I become a physical therapist? is the medical field what I want to spend my time working for? If you are considering these questions, it might be a sign that you should look into the medical field, primarily focusing on physical therapy.
There are different degrees along with various programs associated with physical therapy. There are PT’s or Physical Therapists, and PTA’s or Physical Therapy Assistants. In order to become a physical therapist, there are specific accredited programs that offer the degree as a masters (MS, MPT, or MPST) or a doctorate (DPT). These programs are only offered to those working towards receiving or have already received a bachelors degree.
There are many different programs offered throughout the United States. It is not difficult to find a program and get accepted by working hard at the undergraduate program. Once a person is accepted in a PT program, there are specific courses they must take in order to complete their requirements. The courses include (but are not subjected to) anatomy, physiology, psychology, physics, biology, English, humanities, and other courses related towards the field.
Once they finish all that is needed, there is a state board exam that each graduate needs to pass in order to work legally as a physical therapist at a hospital or rehabilitation center. Each state requires each graduate to take a national exam before entering the work force. However, each program varies from state to state and the curriculum changes based on what state each student lives in, so it is wise to complete schooling in one state in order to avoid taking unnecessary classes and wasting money. Once the general classes (ie English, psychology, etc) are taken and an individual is accepted into a program, they will then be required to take an pass specific courses dedicated to the theory and practice of physical therapy. In the programs students are also able to and required to do “hands on” education, which involves leaving the classroom and working with actual patients in a clinical environment.
There are many schools that offer physical therapy programs in each state. Once the program is completed and the national test is passed, there are many jobs in the field of physical therapy. There are physical therapy assistants that basically aids a physical therapist as they work with patients. The PT might request the assistant to work basic exercises with various patients in order to improve mobility and over all health. Then there are physical therapists that work with a wide variety of patients ranging from stroke patients, individuals who have been in car accidents, people with arthritis, low back issues, head injuries, people with cerebral palsy, and others in need of physical therapy.
Physical therapists and their assistants usually work in hospitals and rehabilitation centers. Their are some that work in gyms or with chiropractors but the majority of jobs will be found through the medical community. Their goal is to provide each patient with techniques that will help their mobility and strength in order to move freely without pain and eventually do it on their own.