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I would really appreciate getting some advice on how to get into medical school, My dream is to become a physical therapist doctor.

I am currently a 3rd year in college and have no idea what steps to take. #doctor #physician #physical-therapy

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Subject: Career question for you


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Doc’s Answer

Angelica in order to become a physical therapist, physical therapists enter the occupation by completing a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program NOT medical school.

If you are wondering how much schooling to be a physical therapist, the answer is around 7-years. A bachelor's degree typically takes 4-years and a doctor of physical therapy (DPT) 3-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. First, make sure that you are getting your degree from an accredited university or program. Try to find something that has been certified by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). Be certain that the program is for physical therapists and not for a similar position like physical therapy assistants. Consider the program's prerequisites and be sure that you already have them when you go to apply. Students in physical therapy programs typically study topics like human anatomy, biomechanics, musculoskeletal system, pathology, and neurological dysfunction management. You may also want to participate in some clinical internships and take some hands-on clinical courses, which provide training in patient care, screening, assessment, treatment, and intervention.

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 18% from 2019-2029, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). This is much faster than average job growth, which is due in large part to an aging population's need for rehabilitative services to manage illness or injury and recuperate from surgery. The average Physical Therapist salary in the United States is $89,000 as of November 25, 2020, but the range typically falls between $82,000 and $96,500. 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.

Hope this was helpful Angelica

Doc recommends the following next steps:

Some aspiring physical therapists may find that they benefit from a clinical residency or fellowship either during or after their university education. This can help students get a more focused idea of how to work as a physical therapist and gain a better understanding of potential specializations in the field.
Thank you comment icon Thank You Dexter. What we get by achieving our goals is not as important as what we become by achieving our goals. Doc Frick
Thank you comment icon Thank You Angelica. The real opportunity for success lies within YOU and not in the career, good Luck. Doc Frick
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Rachel’s Answer

Hi Angelica, thank you for your question. I previously posted this to another student and will post it here, as well as with some changes. Before I begin, I just really want to emphasize that a physical therapist and medical doctor are two different careers and require completely different paths, with the latter being more difficult.

These two options provide for a great career. However, both require very different requirements in order to practice in each field.

Quick Facts:
(1) A bachelors degree from an accredited university is a requirement for both programs.
(2) Further education is a requirement for both programs.
(3) Medical doctor pays substantially more (starting $150-200k+) than physical therapist (starting $80-$90k), and, for that reason, is extremely competitive to get into.
(4) Medical doctor requires an MD, while Physical Therapy requires a DPT. Both of these degrees are substantially different and are viewed differently by the public. Further, MD requires more years of schooling/residency. An in-depth research should be done.

A Physical Therapist Requires:

(1) Earn a bachelors degree
- During your undergraduate program, try and obtain a basic understanding of the following subjects:
*Cardiovascular and pulmonary sciences
*Endocrine sciences
*Metabolic sciences
*Musculoskeletal sciences

(2) Gain hands-on experience with physical therapy
-NOTE: Physical therapy shadowing is one of the main requirements for admission into most high-quality Doctorate of Physical Therapy programs. However, some schools do not require shadowing.
- Refer to:

(2) you must earn a doctor of physical therapy (DPT) degree from a Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education-accredited physical therapist education program and
- NOTE: The length of professional DPT programs is typically three years.
- Refer to this Checklist for admission requirements:

(3) pass a state licensure exam.

(4) optional --> Attend a physical therapy residency or fellowship to specialize in a specific area of physical therapy.

- Helpful Information: Where do PTs work?
*Outpatient clinics or offices
*Inpatient rehabilitation facilities
*Skilled nursing, extended care or subacute facilities
*Education or research centers
*Industrial, workplace or other occupational environments
*Fitness centers and sports training facilities

Medical Doctor (MD) Requirements:

(1) Earn a bachelors degree (FUN FACT: many students pick a pre-med major such as: biology, organic chemistry, physics, and general chemistry . However, my sister was an English major and is now attending an MD program at one of the University of California state schools. So it is not a requirement).

(2) Take the MCAT (standardized test)
- NOTE: A high GPA and a high MCAT score are necessary to apply to medical school. It is one of the most competitive processes. Many post-undergraduate students take up to 2-3 cycles to finally get accepted. Do not feel discouraged if you don't get in on your first try!

(3) Attend a four-year medical school

(4) Take boards exam

(5) Attend a Residency program:
-NOTE: Following medical school, a residency program is a requirement to practice medicine. The residency program will shape what type of doctor you will become. Some residency programs are notoriously difficult to get into (i.e. dermatology)

(6) License/ Certificate: can be obtained in a chosen medical field.

I hope this was helpful for you!
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Yasemin’s Answer

Hi Angelica! The previous answer is great! You don't actually go to medical school for physical therapist but you do take similar classes as premed. I would also recommend to shadow a physical therapist and get some experience seeing them in action! This may also help for when you are trying to write about why you would like to be a physical therapist.

I hope this helps!
Best of luck!
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Madiha’s Answer

Hi, it takes around 7-8 years
bachelor's degree typically takes 4 years and a doctor of physical therapy (DPT) 3-years to complete almost.
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Robin’s Answer

All of the above responses are excellent. I would add just one thing: set up a meeting with your current academic advisor who can help with course selection to help fulfill educational requirements for pre-requisite undergraduate coursework and/or courses that will help you be successful on graduate entrance exams e.g. GRE.