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What classes should I take in High school to help me become a Physical Therapist in the future?

I'm a junior in highschool and I just wanted to know what classes would be benifical to take in High School to become a Physical Therapist. #PT #high-school #PhysicalTherapist

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Subject: Career question for you


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John’s Answer

Nicki all physical therapists must complete a doctoral physical therapy (DPT) program that has been accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). DPT programs generally take three years to complete. Along with supervised clinical experience, curricula include classroom and lab instruction in patient examination and evaluation, prosthetics and orthotics, medical screening, and diagnostics.

Before they are allowed to practice, physical therapists must have earned a graduate degree from accredited academic program in physical therapy. These programs typically culminate in a doctoral degree and take at least three years to complete. To gain admission to a physical therapy program, students typically need to earn a bachelor's degree, complete science prerequisite courses, gain volunteer or observation experience in physical therapy, submit Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores, and maintain an acceptable grade-point average. Students in physical therapy programs typically study topics like human anatomy, biomechanics, musculoskeletal system, pathology, and neurological dysfunction management. They may also participate in clinical internships and take hands-on clinical courses, which provide training in patient care, screening, assessment, treatment, and intervention.

Career-related skills that can help physical therapists succeed in the field include an attention to detail, especially when observing ailments and evaluating treatments; manual dexterity for providing hands-on therapy; interpersonal skills for working closely with patients; knowledge of accounting and/or medical software like Clinicient Insight, TheraWriter PT, and MediGraph; experience with physical therapy tools, such as balance beams, muscle testing equipment, physical therapy tables, and reflex hammers. All states require physical therapists to have a license.

All PTs must be licensed by their states. While each state has its own requirements, most require that candidates have graduate degrees in physical therapy from an accredited program and pass the National Physical Therapy Examination. Some states have additional requirements, such as jurisprudence exams. Also, some states require continuing education to maintain licensure. After obtaining licensure, a new physical therapist can opt to complete a residency. In this setting, the novice physical therapist can work under the supervision of a more experienced licensed physical therapist.

A physical therapist (PT) evaluates, diagnoses, and treats patients with disorders that limit their abilities to move or function normally in daily life. This career might be a good fit for people who have good interpersonal skills and a desire to help others with their physical limitations. Physical therapists could see employment opportunities increase by 22% from 2018-2028, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). This much-faster-than-average job growth is due in large part to an aging population's need for rehabilitative services to manage illness or injury and recuperate from surgery. Job prospects should be best in settings that provide care to elderly patients. Rural locations are also expected to offer favorable employment opportunities. The average Physical Therapist salary in the United States is $88,250 as of July 27, 2020, but the range typically falls between $79,500 and $95,750. Salary ranges can vary widely depending on many important factors, including education, certifications, additional skills, the number of years you have spent in your profession.

In summary Nick, a physical therapist needs to earn a graduate degree, typically a doctorate, and state licensure. Voluntary certification and continuing education could lead to advanced opportunities in the field. If you are interested in becoming a physical therapist, there are steps you can take as early as high school to set yourself up for success in this field.

John recommends the following next steps:

Take challenging science courses – If you want to be a physical therapist, you have many years of science courses ahead of you. Take Honors or AP science courses in high school to see if the content interests you. If it does, that’s a good sign that physical therapy may be a good fit career.
Volunteer or work as a health care provider – You will become close to your patients once you begin your career in physical therapy. Now is a great time to gain exposure to different kinds of patients. You will learn whether working as a health care provider is right for you and improve your bedside manner at the same time.
Shadow or intern with a physical therapist – You will not know the details of what it means to be a physical therapist until you can see a licensed professional in action. Reach out to friends or family members currently employed as physical therapists, or cold call local PT clinics to see if they would be open to having you shadow a physical therapist on duty.
Apply to colleges and universities with strong science programs – Graduate programs for physical therapy expect that you will take certain science classes as prerequisites. Make sure the program you attend offers a robust science curriculum, and make sure that students who declare your major have access to those classes.
Thank you comment icon Thank You Ariana. Nothing is impossible, the word itself says “I’m possible”! John Frick
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Rachel’s Answer

Hi Nicki,

If you are 100% sure that you want to be a PT, I'd highly, highly recommend looking into a 6-year accelerated BS/DPT program. I went to Boston University for this program and did NOT have to take the GRE, write any essays, or submit an additional PT school application. There is, however, a 3.0 GPA requirement to stay in the program. There are many other schools with the same 6-year program, so I'd look into them and see which program you like (make sure the DPT program is CAPTE approved). Then, check the specific requirements that are needed from your high school education and make sure to excel in those classes. Personally, I didn't submit any AP scores to my college because they did not count towards my degree (bummer). So make sure that whatever AP classes you are taking, they count for credit in your future BS/DPT program.

If you're not 100% sure about PT, and are looking to apply to a Bachelor's program, what everybody said above holds true! Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Anatomy, and Physiology are all core science classes you'll need in college as pre-requisites for PT school, so check and see if your desired university accepts credit for those classes. If they don't you'll just have to retake them in college.

Hope this helps! Best of luck!

Rachel recommends the following next steps:

Research 6-year BS/DPT programs.
Align your high school coursework to accepted credits at your desired university.
Excel in science classes.
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Paula-Ann’s Answer

Hi Nicki,

It is very beneficial to start mapping out a path to achieve your desired career choice before college, so congratulations on having that foresight so early on in your education!

When I was a high school student, I took very rigorous courses (AP/Honors) to demonstrate to colleges that I could handle a heavy work load while achieving high grades and test scores. AP, Honors, and IB courses can be a very good way to get ahead in high school and make your application very attractive to colleges, especially if you pass enough AP tests to become an AP scholar in your school.

Every high school has different course work available, but if I was trying to become a physical therapist I would sign up for AP science and math courses, and take steps to excel in these classes to show to colleges I have mastered this content. Some college physical therapy programs recommend 1 year of biology, chemistry, anatomy and physiology, and physics in high school, and a displayed proficiency in high school math courses such as geometry and trigonometry. Given these common requirements, I would sign up for AP Biology, Chemistry, and Physics classes and try to score a 3 or higher on the AP Test to receive college credit and save money on these classes in college. However, if you are going to take this track, you should definitely evaluate if your college choices actually accept these AP credits as college credit before taking this route, because some colleges do not.

Also, many post-graduate physical therapy programs require a science-heavy course-load in college in order to apply. Some programs require Anatomy and Physiology with lab, Biology 1 and 2, General Chemistry 1 and 2 with lab, General Physics 1 and 2 with lab, Psychology, and Statistics. Other programs require 1 year of biochemistry. Given this, I would attend a college that has a reputable and highly-ranked science program to remain attractive to these programs.

Another advantageous option you could take in high school is a duel enrollment track, where you actually begin to complete college courses in high school, and receive college credit before you receive your diploma. Most high schoolers become eligible for duel enrollment when they are in your year. If you choose this track, you should begin to take natural science courses that are required for physical therapy (Biology, Chemistry, Physics). Most students attend a community college to complete their first one of two years of college in duel enrollment programs, and this could save you a lot of money and time, while allowing you to progress to a post-graduate physical therapy program sooner.

In high school, align your coursework with the prerequisites of your desired university, and when you are enrolled in college, align your coursework with the prerequisites of your desired post-graduate physical therapy program.

Good luck with everything!

Paula-Ann recommends the following next steps:

Speak to counselor about duel enrollment options in local community colleges.
Speak to counselor about options to sign up for AP science and math courses.
Speak to counselor about colleges in the area with a highly-ranked science program, and about steps you should take to apply.
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Laura’s Answer

Hey! Take as many college credit courses In high school and get as many A’s as possible.
Thank you comment icon Hi Laura, do you have any class suggestions? Which AP classes should the student take? Gurpreet Lally, Admin