How to become a physical therapist?

Physical therapy helps people live healthy and active lives. Physical therapists are mobility experts who enhance the quality of life through guided exercise, hands-on care, and patient wisdom. Physical therapists diagnose and heal people of all ages, from newborns to Senior citizens. Many patients have injuries, limitations, or other health conditions that need therapy. But therapists also care for people who want to become stronger and to prevent future problems. They examine each person and then create a treatment plan to develop their capacity to move, overcome or manage pain, rehab function, and limit disability.

Physical Therapist

Physical therapists can have a profound effect on people’s lives. They help people achieve fitness goals, regain or maintain their independence, and lead active lives. They practice in various settings, including hospitals, outpatient clinics, people’s homes, schools, sports and fitness facilities, workplaces, and nursing homes.

Steps to enter in Physical therapy profession

How long does it take to become a physical therapist? In general, the path to becoming a physical therapist will span anywhere from 6 to 8 years, depending on how long it takes you to move through each step, including your education, clinical hours, shadowing hours and more. The journey to becoming a physical therapist isn’t the same for everyone; however, these are the basic steps to enter the profession.

  • Earn a Bachelor’s Degree

Look no further than your standard bachelor’s degree. Some colleges offer a physical therapist bachelor’s degree but receiving a bachelor’s degree is one of the necessities for approval into a Doctor of Physical Therapy program. Your bachelor’s degree doesn’t have to be pre-physical therapy, but it should be in an appropriate, health-related field. This will allow you to pick up foundational knowledge and skills required for the area, such as knowledge in: 

  • Biology
  • Anatomy
  • Physiology
  • Biomechanics
  • Kinesiology
  • Neuroscience
  • Pharmacology
  • Cardiovascular and pulmonary sciences
  • Endocrine sciences
  • Metabolic sciences
  • Musculoskeletal sciences

Looking to pursue a career in physical therapy? The question of what to major in for physical therapy is a popular one. Here are few majors for physical therapy:

  • Physics
  • Anatomy
  • Physiology
  • Biomechanics
  • Kinesiology
  • Exercise Science
  1. Gain Hands-on Physical Therapy Experience

Physical therapy shadowing is one of the main requirements for admission into most high-quality Doctorate of Physical Therapy programs. For those who require them, physical therapy volunteer hours that can be paid or unpaid may be completed in various settings throughout a student’s undergraduate career; requirements will vary by school.

Physical therapy volunteering will help you learn technical skills and soft skills by observing licensed physical therapists interacting with their patients and taking on some of the duties for yourself, such as patient preparation and movement. You will find yourself serving over a variety of physical therapy work areas like:

  • Acute care
  • Aquatics
  • Cardiovascular and pulmonary
  • Geriatrics
  • Home health
  • Neurology
  • Oncology
  • Orthopedics
  • Pediatrics
  • Sports
  • Women’s health

Exposure to several different areas may help you with clarity of career choice. Depending on where you choose to shadow, you may find some places you prefer more than others. 

  1. Finish a doctor and physical therapy program

It takes three years to complete a typical doctorate in physical therapy. The curriculum includes 80% classroom and lab study and 20 % clinical education. This will enable you not only to discover your subjects but also to gain practical experience. Let’s see few courses of the program:

  • Anatomy
  • Kinesiology
  • Neuroscience
  • Pharmacology
  • Biochemicals
  • Ethic
  • COmmunication
  • Finance
  • Management science
  • Cardiovascular and Pulmonary
  • Evidence-based practice
  • Endocrine and metabolic
  1. Physical therapy Licensure

Physical therapy licensure is a must before starting your practice as a therapist or taking any job in the same field. The requirements for licensure vary by location. Be sure to check the conditions you need to fulfill wherever you are willing to work. 

  1. Career for Physical therapist

There are varied places where a physical therapist can work. A few of them include:

  • Outpatient clinic offices
  • Hospitals
  • Skilled nursing and extended care
  • Homes
  • Schools
  • Education and research centres
  • Hospice Occupational environment like industrial or workplace
  • Fitness centres and sports training facilities 

In addition to the environment mentioned above, a therapist can also start a private practice or join an office of a physical therapist, occupational therapist, and speech therapist after completing their training. 

Bottom line 

Physical therapists play an essential role in their job, which immensely affects the quality of life of people. It requires extensive education and training to qualify as a physical therapist. Well, fortunately physical therapists can choose a specific range of patients, settings, and specialties in their career path while earning a good salary and discovering the difference they make. You should also love to help people suffering from any kind of pain or injury. Physical therapy treatment shows positive results in the long term. It, not a healing process where you can expect to feel better in just a few days’ session. So have patients, and hope for a positive outcome for your treatment.

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Article Author Details

Ellie Wilson