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Is there cross over degrees that combine a doctorate of physical therapy degree and an athletic trainers certification simultaneously or must students pursue these two goals separately?

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2 answers

Kyle’s Answer

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Good Question, as previous replies mentioned traditionally ATC is a 4 year degree and then you sit for the ATC certification. However, in the future ATC will no longer be a 4 year degree as the profession is moving towards a masters degree to solidify there role ( similar to the DPT for physical therapy)

Athletic training and Physical therapy have commonalities in that they both deal with the human anatomy, injuries to the body, and science of exercises to prevent and heal.

ATC focus more with On-Field care and work, being present during games to treat athletes with injuries on the side-lines. They also create and work with CSCS to create preventative and effective exercise routines.

Physical Therapist is very vast, Outpatient PT mostly focuses on patients with chronic pain conditions or post-surgical (ex. ACLR, Total Joint replacements) Neuro In-patient or Outpatient PT works with neurological patients ( Stroke, Brain Injury, Vestibular disorder) Sports PTs in some aspect operate similar to ATC, but also work with athletes in rehab after injuries.

Kyle recommends the following next steps:

  • Research ATC education requirements and possible changes in the future
  • Research DPT education requirements
  • Shadow ATC at local sports team or center]
  • Shadow DPT in outpatient, inpatient, and possibly sports settings
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Justin’s Answer

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In order to be accepted to PT school, you must first have an undergraduate degree, including all of the prerequisite classes that are required to apply to PT school. I graduated from Texas State University with an undergraduate degree in Exercise & Sports Science, which is equivalent to an athletic training degree. I did not pursue an Athletic Trainer certification because I knew I only wanted to be a PT. However, there were several classmates of mine who pursued an AT certification & became certified after graduating, then applied & were accepted to PT school. Basically, an AT certification requires an undergraduate degree & is often used as the degree that many students obtain to get into PT school, as it encompasses many, if not all, of the prerequisite classes required to apply to PT school. I hope this answers your question. Although an AT certification & PT doctorate cannot be achieved simultaneously, one is a stepping stone to the other.
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