Physical therapists provide treatments to those who have been involved in accidents, who have experienced trauma or have disabling or chronic conditions. These treatments are designed to relieve or alleviate pain, strengthen muscles, improve range of motion, or improve function and mobility. Conditions that are addressed by physical therapists vary widely but can include arthritis, lower back pain, fractures, head injuries, or stroke recovery.
Physical Therapy Schools
The following five physical therapist schools offer doctoral degrees in physical therapy. All schools are accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education:
- Alabama State University: This state university offers a three-year clinical doctorate that prepares students to sit for the National Physical Therapy Exam.
- Medical University of South Carolina: With a long background of educating physical therapists (since 1973), this school's Doctor of Physical Therapy program provides students with the opportunity for clinical learning and community-based service.
- Regis University: Located in Denver, Colorado, this university's Doctor of Physical Therapy program provides evidenced-based education with a focus on clinical technique.
- The University of New England: This university in Portland, Maine aims to prepare graduates to meet the latest needs in the field of physical therapy by analyzing clinical decision-making and diagnosis.
- The University of North Florida: This school in Jacksonville, Florida offers a doctoral program in physical therapy that prepares students to take the national licensure exam to become generalist practitioners.
Physical Therapist Education Requirements
The physical therapist education requirements dictate that students have a minimum of a master's degree to practice in their field, and many obtain doctorates.
Physical therapy degree programs require both classroom and laboratory instruction in addition to clinical hours. Undergraduates should pay special attention in their science and math courses. Physical therapy master's and doctoral degree programs typically include instruction in the following:
- Exercise physiology
- Behavioral science
Clinical work is a must and many programs require volunteer work in a physical therapy environment prior to being accepted into a program.
Physical Therapist Licensing
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, all states require physical therapists to obtain licensure to practice. Licensure requirements vary from one state to the next, but all require physical therapists to earn at least a master's degree from an accredited physical therapy school and pass the National Physical Therapy Examination. Additionally, you may need to meet additional state-specific physical therapist training requirements. Continuing education units (CEUs) in physical therapy are mandatory for maintaining your license -- a requirement designed to keep physical therapists up to speed on advances in knowledge or technology affecting the field.
Physical Therapist Resources
- The American Physical Therapy Association
- Journal of the American Physical Therapy Association
- A World of Physical Therapy
- Alabamba State University, http://www.alasu.edu/academics/colleges -- departments/health-sciences/physical-therapy/index.aspx
- The Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Physical Therapist, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/physical-therapists.htm
- Medical University of South Carolina, https://www.musc.edu/chp/pt/
- Regis University, http://www.regis.edu/RHCHP/Schools/School-of-Physical-Therapy.aspx
- University of North Florida, https://www.unf.edu/brooks/movement_science/graduate_program.aspx
- The University of New England, http://www.une.edu/wchp/pt/doctor-pt