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What all do I need to do to become a physical therapist?

I've researched this topic quite a bit, but most of what I've found has been confusing. I'm the kind of person who likes a checklist, but the information I've gathered for this is all catty-wompus! (Excuse my old sayings...) #career-choice #physical-therapist #physical-therapy

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Brendon’s Answer

"Catty-Wompus" should absolutely become commonplace again.

Alright, so this is the breakdown of how you become a Physical Therapist in the USA.

<h1>1. Choose (and complete) a Bachelor's degree.</h1>

There is no specific degree that you have to earn but there is a list of pre-requisite courses that you'll be required to complete. The exact prerequisites vary by school but generally it involves the following:
* 2 psychology courses
* 2 physics courses
* 2 chemistry courses
* 2 anatomy and physiology courses
It's really common to see undergraduates earn degrees such as Biology, Chemistry, Nursing, Public Health or Exercise Physiology since most of those courses would be included in any one of those majors. However, you can major in Theatre, Dance, Business Management, or Healthcare Administration if you like and then use your electives for these courses. (Almost every major dance or theater company will have a Physical Therapist that they contract with, so getting a bachelor's in that field wouldn't be horrible.)

<h1>2. Apply for graduate school.</h1>

In addition to your prerequisites you'll need to take the GRE (basically the ACT for grad school), "shadow" physical therapists for 50-150 hours (depending on the school -- if you find work as a physical therapist technician then the hours are easy), write and essay and interview with admissions.

<h1>3. Graduate with a Doctorate in Physical Therapy.</h1>

This is the part that confuses a lot of people: by the year 2020 every physical therapy program in the USA is required to be converted to a three-year doctorate program. You're not required to earn a Master's degree first, so schooling should only be seven years total (4 for your Bachelor's and 3 for your DPT.)

<h1>4. Be an awesome therapist!!!</h1>

UPDATE Here are sources that I think you'll find useful:

http://www.ptcas.org/Directory/ (most but not all schools use PTCAS for applying to grad school, you'll be able to find a list of different schools in each state as well as what each school requires. A summary sheet can be found here: http://www.ptcas.org/uploadedFiles/PTCASorg/Directory/Prerequisites/PTCASCoursePreReqsSummary.pdf)

https://www.sacredheart.edu/academics/collegeofhealthprofessions/academicprograms/physicaltherapy/33physicaltherapyoption/ (this is one of a few programs that have begun offering 3+3 programs in physical therapy. Basically, if you do your undergraduate at the same school where you want to end up studying physical therapy, you can skip a year. This was the first result when I googled "DPT 3+3 programs")

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Lindsey’s Answer

Here's a great Q&A thread about the path to a career in physical therapy here on CareerVillage.org: https://www.careervillage.org/questions/14631/what-type-of-education-do-you-need-to-become-a-physical-therapist?page=1#14931. Tons of terrific advice here about the education you need to become a physical therapist. I hope it helps!