Choosing a Health Profession
Allied Health Program
How to Prepare
Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT)
Physical therapists provide care to people of all ages to help restore function, improve mobility, relieve pain, and prevent or limit permanent physical disabilities of patients suffering from injury or disease. Physical therapists may help with functional problems from, for example, back and neck injuries, or injuries related to work and sports. Their job is generally to restore, maintain, and promote overall fitness and health. They examine each individual and develop a plan using treatment techniques to help with movement, reducing pain, restoring function, and preventing disability. Physical therapists often consult and practice with a variety of other professionals such as physicians, nurses, occupational therapists, educators, and other health professionals.
Doctors of physical therapy design responsive and proactive therapeutic programs that treat movement dysfunction resulting from underlying issues ranging from cardiac, pulmonary, neurological and musculoskeletal activity. Because of their extensive training and express need, physical therapists provide treatment in a range of different settings including hospitals, outpatient clinics, nursing homes, home care agencies, corporations, schools, and rehabilitation centers. Employment for physical therapists is expected to increase faster than average, and job opportunities should be good particularly in acute hospital, rehabilitation, and orthopedic settings. Physical therapists can practice as generalists or choose to specialize in a particular area. Some areas the physical therapists may specialize in is orthopedics, geriatrics, neurology, pediatrics, sports physical therapy, and cardiopulmonary. In addition to practicing options, therapists have opportunities in administration, research, and education.
Physical therapy programs require that applicants have exposure to the field before being admitted. Many programs require a minimum of 40 to 100 hours of supervised volunteer hours that must be verified by a licensed physical therapist. Volunteer experience is important because it allows applicants to gain exposure and knowledge of the field so they can make better informed decisions about future career paths. Please visit the Physical Therapist Centralized Application Service (PTCAS) website to review each schools program information and requirements. Like most professional health programs, physical therapy schools look for strong letters of recommendation from physical therapists or science professors.
Applications for physical therapy programs are submitted online through Physical Therapist Centralized Application Service (PTCAS), the only centralized application service for students applying to physical therapy programs. Similar to online central application services for medicine, pharmacy, dentistry, and the other health professions, PTCAS offers students a convenient way to research and apply to multiple physical therapy programs with a single online application. Please refer to the PTCAS website for a complete list of participating physical therapy programs. The GRE is required for admission into physical therapy programs and students should apply at the earliest possible date, which varies by school.
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