To have a doctorate level degree in any field means that you are an expert in that field. It also means that you have to work your tushie off for an undergraduate degree and obtain exceptional grades to get accepted into a Doctorate of Physical Therapy (DPT) program. People often ask me how to become a physical therapist. Read on to learn just what it takes to become a physical therapist.
What does it take to become a Doctor of Physical Therapy?
When people ask how to become a physical therapist, the first thing you have to do is apply. However, you need to do a few things before you can get to the application process.
1. First, you need to obtain your bachelor’s of science or art with all of the prerequisites (for each DPT program you are applying for) completed and with top-notch grades. The field is very competitive, and DPT programs have many candidates to choose from.
2. Second, you need to complete the observation hours required by each school. I attended Pacific University, and the observation hour requirement was 100 hours. It is helpful when these are in various settings, such as acute care, orthopedics, pediatrics, skilled nursing facilities, etc.…
3. Third, many programs require the GRE (Graduate Record Examinations). The GRE is a standardized test used for graduate school, much like students need to take the SAT for undergraduate programs.
The Graduate Program
• A graduate program entails three years of combined classwork, clinical work, and a dissertation with defending (not all schools require).
• At Pacific, I had three eight-week and three four-week clinical rotations in various settings and with different clinical instructors. (They have changed this around a little now) They spread them over the three years with the eight week rotations in the 3rd year once you have had more in-class education time.
• We take various classes, including but not limited to kinesiology, anatomy (full cadaver dissection), physiology, biomechanics, and neurology. After
that, we must take PT related classes like geriatrics, pediatrics, motor control, and evaluation techniques. It is a ton of coursework and clinical time, which helps to prepare students for working in the field.
At Endurance Physical Therapy, all the therapists have their DPT and direct access. For patients, that means you can get treatment without a referral from your physician, depending on your insurance requirements, of course. Our front office is extremely helpful and transparent in letting you know if you need a referral.
I chose physical therapy (and, more specifically, manual therapy) as my career because I knew I wanted to be able to help people heal and get back to their active lives. There is both a physical recovery as well as a mental/emotional component that can be extremely taxing on patients. I love helping to guide them through the overall process of healing.
Megan and the Endurance PT Team