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what are the requirements for becoming a physical therapist

I am very passionate and interested towards health. I like to do physical activities and also live a healthy lifestyle. I love sports and to create art. I also enjoy teaching and helping others. #health #arts

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Colleen’s Answer

Hi Shannon! I am almost 43 and my mom has been a certified PT for my entire life and she LOVES it! If you have a passion for helping and healing people, then the first box is checked! I have benefited from her skills so many times over all my life's injuries! I don't know exactly about her training, but know there is A LOT of human body science behind it and she is required to take a state test each year to keep her certification.

One benefit I've seen of being a PT is the strength you get from the hard work in lifting patients! My mom is 70 now and stronger than me!

I think my mom would say the best part of being a PT is working with and getting to know her patients, then getting to witness their healing. The least favorite part for her, and where she struggled later in her career was all the computer work, charts, deadlines, etc in order for the patients to be covered by insurance. You are fortunate, unlike her, to grow up in a world of technology, computers, etc that this should come much easier to you than her.

Hope my advice spoke to you and I wish you the BEST OF LUCK in deciding if Physical Therapy is the right path for you!

Hi Shannon! The requirements and prerequisites vary for each program. Once you have decided on a program, you will need to take a look at their admissions page. Does this help? Please let me know! Morgan Ahola

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Stephanie Stephen’s Answer

This is what I found on what it takes to become a Physical Therapist.

Physical therapists work with patients to help them retrain injured or debilitated muscles by moving, stretching and strengthening various parts of the body. To become a physical therapist, a person must obtain a professional degree, usually a doctorate in physical therapy. College programs in physical therapy are typically a combination of coursework and clinical rotations. Additionally, states require individuals to be licensed to legally work as physical therapists.

Required Education Undergraduate degree in a related field, plus a Doctor of Physical Therapy
Licensing Mandatory; students must pass the National Physical Therapy Examination
Median Salary (2018) $87,930*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Now as I understand this sounds like a lot of work to put in to gain the education to work as a Physical therapist. However, you can also do this work if you hold a license as what is called a Restorative Nurse Or a Restorative Nursing Assistant also known as an RNA. Which can be done as a Registered Nursing Assistant/Certified Nursing Assistant. And a lot of Restorative nursing is also done in the home health setting by RNA/CNA staff members and Restorative Nurses and Phsyical therapist who work in the home health industry.

Which is work that can be done by RNA's/CNA's as it requires them to work with patients to help them retrain injured or debilitated muscles by moving, stretching and strengthening various parts of the body through range of motion exercisers. And is often done in Nursing homes with Post Surgical patients, who are placed in Nursing homes as part of their Medicare requirements as Post Surgical patients so they may return to normal life at home. I know this as I did Restorative Nursing work for a Hospital in Texas as part of their home health staff as an RNA as well as for a Nursing Home in Texas as an RNA who was hired to do Restorative work as an RNA. So you can do the same work as a licensed Restorative Nurse without having to have the Doctoral degree that is often required. It just depends on if you want to have the title of PT or RN/PT.

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Ariana’s Answer

Hello (:

To become a physical therapist, you will want to research different schools to see what the requirements are. You can search for a list of programs on CAPTE. However, I will list the general requirements:

1. Prerequisite courses (usually biology, chemistry, physics, psychology, nutrition, statistics, etc.). Exact courses vary by school.
2. GRE (basically the SAT for grad school)
3. Observation hours -- A lot of times schools will have a certain number of hours required. I've seen this range from 20-300+ hours. Sometimes they allow this to be paid work, such as working as an aide in a PT clinic. The schools may have required hours in different settings such as inpatient vs. outpatient. I recommend reaching out to local clinics via email or phone to ask if you can come observe. To get hours in a hospital you usually have to contact either the HR department or volunteer coordinator. I recommend shadowing in a lot of different settings.
4. GPA > 3.0 -- Usually you need your GPA to be over 3.0 for all of your courses AND your GPA for your prereq classes to also be over 3.0.
5. Extracurricular Activities -- Not a requirement usually, but it's always good to show that you're a well-rounded applicant who did more than just study in college. I personally did not have a stellar GPA or GRE score, but I did have a ton of extracurriculars that I was passionate about. A few of them I did throughout all 4 years of college. Taking on leadership positions in your clubs and organizations is also great for your resume. Try to not force yourself to do activities you don't enjoy just to look better on your application; instead, explore different activities until you find something you love!
6. Interviews -- Some schools require an in-person interview where you will be asked typical questions such as "Why are you interested in becoming a PT?" You may also be asked about situations you observed while shadowing PT's.
7. PTCAS application and essay. Remember the Common App for college? PTCAS is essentially that but for PT school. There's also a common essay prompt. As with the Common App, not every school will use this system, so be sure to look on the programs' websites to see how they do applications.
8. Letters of Recommendation -- You may need one from a licensed PT so make sure to make connections while you're out there observing.
9. Research experience -- Again, this isn't a requirement usually, but it does help to get experience in a research lab. Ideally you will find something related to PT such as kinesiology. Look up professors at your school to see what their research interests are. Then send emails to the ones you'd be interested in working with. A lot of times professors will appreciate having undergraduate assistants to just observe and assist with data collection.

That's all I can think of for now! Good luck!