The physical therapist works with patients to help improve their strength and mobility, relieve pain, and prevent or limit permanent physical impairment. A physical therapist’s duties may range from rehabilitation of accident victims, to educating in the schools and community on health issues, to sports-related assessment, conditioning and preventive medicine.
The necessary prerequisite courses vary significantly among institutions. However, most physical therapy programs require:
1 Year General Biology — Bio 111 and 112
1 Semester Anatomy — Bio 321
1 Semester Physiology — Bio 315 (Bio 212 is a prerequisite)
1 Year Chemistry — Chem 111, Chem 241
1 Year Physics — Physics 109 and 110, or Physics 111 and 112
1 or 2 Semesters Psychology — Psych 101; Psych 220
Programs might also require Organic Chemistry (Chem 221 and 321), composition, statistics, or other social sciences. Students can learn more about core prerequisite course requirements for each physical therapy program at the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) web site. A PDF of program prerequisites can be found here.
There is now a centralized application service for physical therapy programs, PTCAS. Not all PT programs accept the PTCAS, so students must investigate which schools will accept a centralized application and which they need to apply to individually. The standardized test required for entrance into most physical therapy programs is the (GRE).
Typically, a student needs a minimum GPA of 3.3 on a 4.0 scale to be a competitive applicant.
The Education and the Degree: All physical therapists are college graduates. In the past, baccalaureate and master’s degrees were awarded to physical therapists. However, as of 2002, the accreditation organization for Physical Therapists (CAPTE) no longer certifies baccalaureate programs, and most programs today award a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT). The DPT takes 2.5 to 3 years to complete depending on the program.
All physical therapists are also required to take a national examination and be licensed by the state in which they practice.
Contact Jill Rogers, the Wabash Pre-Health Profession’s Advisor, with questions.