Your Guide to the Physical Therapy Education…and You Won’t Look Anywhere Else

Your Guide to the Physical Therapy Education…and You Won’t Look Anywhere ElseSo, you want to be physical therapist but do not know where to start? We are here to help you. This article is about your guide to the physical therapy education. Physical therapy is one of the most promising careers for this decade and for the next. You chose this career so you know that you are in a very strategic spot. But what do you have to know about physical therapy education?

Physical therapy is a very rewarding profession in many ways. When you help someone get better, you feel great. You are also taken cared of, salary-wise. So basically, when you decided to take this program, you are in a win-win situation.

Okay, here’s the thing.

When you want to study physical therapy, you should know that the PT education refers to the theoretical as well as the clinical teachings that every PT student gets before being thrown into the actual career. The PT education basically prepares the individual who hopes to have a PT career with the demands of the said job.

The PT education you get will hone you to have the core values needed and required by the profession. Such values are the following:

  • Become adaptable to the changes in the demands of being in a healthcare profession
  • Become an individual who yearns for lifelong experiences
  • Become individuals who are concerned in the welfare of the people around him or her
  • Become individuals with developed critical thinking
  • Become individuals with ethical values
  • Become professional in physical therapy dealings
  • Become reflective individuals
  • Become service-oriented

Know options

You have to remember that the PT career and education is in transition today. That being said, many PT schools are actually preparing for the change and as much as you would want to be in some other PT programs, you only have two choices as of the moment. But this will soon change and only one entry-level PT education program is going to be implemented by 2020. That is part of the APTA 2020 Vision. So, to make it safer for you, choose from the two programs since these are the only ones credited once you take your PT license examination. Also, make sure that your PT degree is from an accredited CAPTE PT education program as this is also a requirement during the PT license examination. The education programs this article refers to are the ones below. The first one is going to be the only PT entry-level education program APTA is referring to in its APTA Vision 2020.

  • DPT or the Doctor of Physical Therapy
  • MPT/MSPT or the Master of Physical Therapy and Master of Science in Physical Therapy

Although it may depend on the PT school you might be interested in, the number of years a DPT program takes in 3 years. You are also required to have PT classroom studies, which comprise the majority of the time spent in school. This is about 80% of the curriculum and the remaining 20% is about the clinical education.

There are two ways that you can enter the PT program:

  • There are schools who recruit high school graduates on their admissions program. They will undergo some comprehensive programs that would get them into the professional stage of the PT program. Like any other courses, they must need to accomplish all the requirements needed for the undergraduate.
  • The other one is the more common route. PT hopefuls must take a bachelor’s degree, preferably related to physical therapy and then apply for a DPT or MPT program upon finishing the baccalaureate degree. All in all, most programs have 3 years undergraduate courses and another three years for professional PT courses.

Once you have graduated, it is advised that you continue your education by pursuing either a residency or a fellowship. A residency is post-graduate program that focuses on the skills of the physical therapist as a care provider in a specialty. A fellowship, on the other hand, focuses on the further education of the PT who has already been in a residency or has been certified as a specialist. This provides a more in-depth education on the chosen specialty of the PT, which, of course, includes some clinical experience.


Yes, specialty. Physical therapists have specialties. They are certified by the ABPTS or the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialities after the physical therapist has gathered accredited education, both didactic and clinical, on a specialized segment of physical therapy. Specializations are voluntary and these are the following:

  • Cardiovascular and Pulmonary
  • Clinical Electrophysiology
  • Geriatrics
  • Neurology
  • Orthopaedics
  • Pediatrics
  • Sports Physical Therapy
  • Women’s Health

What else should I know about?

Remember that when choosing the right physical therapy program, there are certain considerations you need to take note of these questions:

  • Is the program is accredited by CAPTE? Otherwise, you are not eligible to take the licensure exam
  • Are you suited for the program’s curriculum?
  • Have you checked the type of clinical education and training prospects? Is it to your advantage?
  • How many years has the faculty been working in the school PT program?
  • How many students are taking the PT program?
  • Are the classrooms and facilities modern and up-to-date?
  • How many students does the PT program has, particularly the freshmen?
  • How many pass the licensure exam?
  • How many are employed six months after graduating from the PT program?
  • How many awards, collectively, has the faculty garnered?
  • How long does it take for you to finish the program?
  • What do you need for you to be admitted into the program?
  • How much will the program cost you?
  • Does the school have activities for you to join in?

Physical therapy education is like finding your partner. You need to look hard and wide to see if the program is compatible for you. What do you think?

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