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The Journey to Becoming a Physical Therapist: Time, Education, and Requirements

February 09, 2023 · 3 min read

Physical therapy is a profession that aids people in recuperating from injuries, coping with chronic ailments, and enhancing their standard of living. Becoming a physical therapist requires a significant investment of time and effort, but the payoff is a challenging and meaningful job that can make a positive impact on the lives of others. In this article, we'll explore the journey to becoming a physical therapist, including the time, education, and requirements involved.

The first step in becoming a physical therapist is to earn a bachelor's degree. This typically takes four years, although some programs may take longer. During this time, students will take courses in anatomy, physiology, biology, and other sciences, as well as courses in social sciences, humanities, and general education. It is also important for aspiring physical therapists to gain experience working with patients, so many students choose to volunteer or work in a related field, such as as a physical therapy aide or a rehabilitation technician.

After completing a bachelor's degree, aspiring physical therapists must complete a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program. This program usually takes three years, although some may take longer. During this time, students will receive extensive training in the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of physical impairments, disabilities, and pain. They will also participate in clinical rotations, during which they will work with patients under the supervision of licensed physical therapists.

Once a DPT program is completed, aspiring physical therapists must take and pass the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE). This is a comprehensive exam that covers all aspects of physical therapy practice and is used to determine whether an individual is qualified to become a licensed physical therapist. The NPTE is administered by the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy (FSBPT) and is required in all states.

Once the NPTE is passed, the aspiring physical therapist must apply for and receive a license to practice in the state in which they plan to work. Requirements for licensure vary by state, but typically include proof of completion of a DPT program and a passing score on the NPTE. Some states may also require continuing education, although this is not typically a requirement for initial licensure.

The journey to becoming a physical therapist can be a long one, but the end result is a challenging and rewarding career that can make a positive impact on the lives of others. Physical therapists play an important role in helping patients recover from injury, manage chronic conditions, and improve their quality of life.

In conclusion, becoming a physical therapist requires a significant investment of time, effort, and education. The process starts with a bachelor's degree, followed by a three-year DPT program, and ends with passing the NPTE and obtaining a license to practice. However, the payoff is a meaningful and challenging career that can make a positive impact on the lives of others. If you're considering becoming a physical therapist, be prepared for a journey that will require dedication, hard work, and a passion for helping others.

by Liza Sushko

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