Steps to Becoming a Physical Therapist
Become a Physical Therapist…
- How to Become a Physical Therapist
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All physical therapist programs are offered at at least the master’s level, and most are at the doctoral level. However, a little advanced planning can make you a Doctor of Physical Therapy in as little as six years out of high school. The following plan is designed to aid you.
Academic rigor now will save time later. Take higher level science classes. You will probably want to enroll in some advanced placement courses.
Get some health care experience. You might begin by shadowing a physical therapist.
Many programs, especially at the higher levels, require volunteer or work experience in the field.
Beginning researching physical therapy programs. Make sure your program has been accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE).
You can apply for some physical therapy schools with only a high school diploma. 3 + 3 programs allow you to spend three years as an undergraduate and three years as a graduate student . Some programs allow you to complete an undergraduate degree (like athletic training) along the way.
You can also apply to graduate programs with a degree in just about any field. If you’re unsure about your career choice or need a slower pace, you may select a complementary undergraduate major. Some good choices are exercise science, biology, and kinesiology. Whatever you opt for, be sure to take two semesters of chemistry. Other prerequisites may include anatomy and physiology, statistics, and psychology.
Maintain good grades throughout your studies. (If you’re accepted into a program as an undergraduate, satisfactory academic progress will be a condition.
Consider joining APTA Student Assembly.
Research potential clinical sites thoroughly. Make sure they will meet your career goals — and ask yourself whether they’re places you might want to work as a PT.
It’s time to secure your first position. Work settings are varied: hospitals, hospices, nursing homes, schools, and fitness centers. You can post your resume and search for positions on the site of the American Physical Therapy Association. Connections you made while fulfilling clinical requirements may also prove very helpful.
References are frequently asked to rate candidates on personal attributes. Frequently cited are interpersonal skills, communication skills, professionalism, and commitment to work or learning.