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From College to Clinic: How to Launch Your Physical Therapy Career

February 09, 2023 · 3 min read

Physical therapy is a rewarding and fulfilling career that offers the opportunity to help people recover from injury or illness and improve their quality of life. If you are interested in becoming a physical therapist, this article will guide you through the steps you need to take to launch your career.

Step 1: Complete Your Undergraduate Education

The first step in becoming a physical therapist is to complete a bachelor's degree in a relevant field, such as exercise science, kinesiology, or biology. This will provide you with a solid foundation in anatomy, physiology, and other related subjects that are essential for success in physical therapy school.

Step 2: Gain Clinical Experience

Clinical experience is critical to success as a physical therapist. While in college, you should take advantage of any opportunities to work with patients or to observe physical therapy sessions. This will give you a better understanding of the day-to-day work of a physical therapist and help you decide if this is the right career path for you.

Step 3: Apply to Physical Therapy School

Once you have completed your undergraduate education and gained clinical experience, you are ready to apply to physical therapy school. The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program is typically three years long and includes both classroom-based learning and hands-on clinical experience. During this time, you will learn about the latest treatments, technologies, and practices in physical therapy, as well as how to diagnose and treat patients with a variety of conditions.

Step 4: Pass the National Physical Therapy Exam

After you have completed your physical therapy education, you will need to pass the National Physical Therapy Exam (NPTE) in order to become licensed to practice. This exam tests your knowledge of the fundamentals of physical therapy, as well as your ability to diagnose and treat patients.

Step 5: Build Your Network

Networking is critical to success as a physical therapist. Attend professional conferences, join professional organizations, and seek out mentorship opportunities to build relationships with other physical therapists. This will help you stay current on the latest treatments and technologies, as well as give you access to potential job opportunities.

Step 6: Find Your First Job

Once you have completed your education and passed the NPTE, it is time to find your first job as a physical therapist. You may choose to work in a hospital, rehabilitation center, or private practice. You may also choose to specialize in a particular area of physical therapy, such as sports medicine or pediatrics.

Step 7: Continuously Grow Your Skills and Knowledge

Physical therapy is an ever-evolving field, and it is important to continuously grow your skills and knowledge throughout your career. Participate in continuing education courses, attend professional conferences, and seek out opportunities to take on new responsibilities.

Becoming a physical therapist is a challenging and rewarding journey that requires dedication, hard work, and a passion for helping others. If you are interested in this career, the steps outlined in this article will guide you through the process from college to clinic. With persistence and determination, you can launch a successful career as a physical therapist and make a difference in the lives of your patients.

by Liza Sushko

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