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How to Become a Physical Therapist

How to Become a Physical Therapist

Have you thought about becoming a physical therapist? A career in physical therapy can be very rewarding. Your job is to help patients recover from and manage immobilities that have occurred from injuries, surgeries or illness. This field has a high expected growth rate and these individuals can make upwards of 75K a year. Does that sound good to you? Continue to read and find out how to become a physical therapist.

You’ll needHow to Become a Physical Therapist to get a bachelor’s degree that focuses on science courses. A bachelor’s of science (BS) is the best way to go. Check with the post-graduate institution you plan on attending to find out what there prerequisites are. The graduate program may or may not be in the 4 year institution you initially attend. So, check to see what course you need such as biology, anatomy, physiology, chemistry, physics and mathematics. You can actually major in biology, psychology or exercise science to fulfill your requirements for grad school. However, if you are currently a history major for example, it is possible to add the required courses to become a physical therapist.

The science courses you need to take are not easy so you will need to study hard when your an undergraduate. You need good grades to get into a graduate physical therapy program. You’ll need a grade point average (GPA) of 3.5 or better. If this sounds a little over the top, you might want to consider becoming a physical therapist’s assistant because that only requires a two year degree. Also, you will have to take the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) and do well on it. You’ll also need letters of recommendation. These letters can come from any professors you’ve worked with or perhaps taken coursework from. So, you need to establish some form of relationship with the faculty.

Early in your senior year you might want to go ahead and apply to the graduate physical therapists program you want to enter. Know that some graduate programs offer a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree and others offer a Master of Physical Therapy (MPT) degree. Determine which is best for you time wise and cost wise. Trying to get into a physical therapy program can be difficult as it is very competitive. If you have work experience in this field, make sure that you present that information when you apply. This gives you somewhat of an advantage.

Be prepared to take courses that are advanced in anatomy, physiology, biomechanics along with clinical rotations to provide hands-on experience. Once you complete and pass your program you can get a license to practice physical therapy. The requirements for licensing vary by state, however most states require you to take the National Physical Therapy Exam (NPTE).
Once you have graduated, you might consider applying to a clinical residency program. This provides you with further training and will improve you job prospects. Another thing to consider is going for a clinical fellowship. This allows you to continue your education in a particular field. You will have more opportunity to work with patients to hone your skills.

When you finally start job searching, you’ll find that there are a number of venues for you to venture into. For example, fitness centers, schools, hospitals, clinics and outpatient facilities. Once you get some experience under your belt, you might want to consider getting a board certification in some specialty. There are a number of clinical specialties such as cardiovascular and pulmonary therapy, clinical electrophysiology, neurology and sports to name a few. This will definitely increase your job prospects.

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Physical therapists at work
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Susan Ardizzoni

Susan Ardizzoni

Professor Susan Ardizzoni

Susan has studied at the University of Texas Medical Branch Marine Biomedical Institute in Galveston, Texas and the University of South Florida in Tampa and received a Ph.D. in Biology with a major in Neuroscience and minors in physics and mathematics. Area of research is in brain transplantation and behavior testing with twenty years of teaching experience. Fields of interest include the physical basis of memory and learning, brain repair and regeneration as well as neuro-development. As an educator, has taught thousands of students at the college level in anatomy and physiology, biology, microbiology, marinebiology, nutrition, communications, radiography, ultrasound, mathematics and physics. She enjoys reading current scientific literature and simplifying the material making it readily available to the public.
Susan Ardizzoni

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