Physical Therapy as a Career
Physical therapists are evidence-based, health care professionals who diagnose and treat individuals of all ages who have medical problems or other health-related conditions that limit their abilities to move and perform functional activities in their daily lives. They offer cost-effective treatment that improves mobility and relieves pain, reduces the need for surgery and prescription drugs, and allows patients to participate in a recovery plan designed for their specific needs. In addition, physical therapists work with individuals to prevent the loss of mobility before it occurs by developing fitness and wellness programs for healthier and more active lifestyles. Physical therapists provide care for people in a variety of settings, including hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, home health agencies, schools, sports and fitness facilities, work settings and nursing homes. State licensure is required in each state in which a physical therapist practices
Most PT schools include a 3-year DPT (Doctor of Physical Therapy) program. For more information, visit the American Physical Therapy Association: Physical Therapist (PT) Careers.
- Meet with the Pre-Health Professions Advisor each semester and request to be added to the Pre-PT Email List
- Choose a degree major that you enjoy and that provides a good “back-up plan” and career path in case you change your mind about physical therapy. Common majors include Exercise Science and Biology; however, all majors will be considered IF a student completes the prerequisite courses and other admissions standards established by individual PT programs
- Review the Pre-Physical Therapy 4 yr. degree plan sample
- Carefully check admission requirements at PT schools of most interest and take the required coursework. For more details, see the PTCAS Prerequisites Summary
- Join the Pre-Physical/Occupation Therapy/Athletic Training Organization (POTATO) at UI
- Get significant shadowing and clinical experience and maintain a formal Professional Development Activities Log. Find out what the profession is like, explore different areas of the field and in different settings (in-patient and out-patient), decide if it is right for you, and be sure to meet clinical experience requirements of your preferred schools
- Develop strong mentor relationships with faculty mentors, PT professionals, and others who will be writing letters of reference
- Follow the American Physical Therapy Association Admissions Process
- The application process typically consists of taking the Graduate Record Exam (GRE), applying through the Physical Therapy Centralized Application Service (PTCAS), submitting college transcripts and letters of reference, and participating in invited interviews. Carefully check application procedures for each school to which you apply.