What Does A Doctorate In Physical Therapy Entail?
If you’ve always been interested in caring for people, becoming a physical therapist may be the perfect job for you. Each day you’d get to work with clients and help them recover from injuries, surgery, or simply help them develop more strength throughout their body. If this sounds like something you’d like to do, maybe it’s time to get a Doctorate in Physical Therapy. But how in the world does one get to that point of working in orthopedic physical therapy?
How To Work In The Field Of Orthopedic Physical Therapy
If you’ve been considering getting a doctorate and becoming a physical therapist but don’t know where to start, have no fear. We’ve got some simple steps you can follow to better understand the process and what it takes to work in a physical therapy clinic.
In America, it is a requirement to get a doctorate in physical therapy before you’re allowed to practice. But before doing that, you’ll need to obtain your bachelor’s degree, which can take a minimum of 4 years to complete. Once you’ve earned that, you can start the process of applying to physical therapy doctorate programs.
In order to apply for a master’s program, some schools may require you to take the GRE (Graduate Records Examination). Keep in mind that you’ll need to get certain scores depending on the school you apply to in order to be accepted. It’s important to set aside time to study and refresh your knowledge to score well on this exam. If you’re worried about passing, there are programs available to help people study for the big exam and learn the best test-taking tactics.
Once you’ve taken the GRE and gathered all the extra information consisting of college transcripts and acceptance letters, you can begin the process of applying to a grad school. Getting everything organized and ready to submit can be intimidating. Luckily, the Physical Therapist Centralized Application Service has a really helpful check-list you can go through to ensure that you have everything you need to apply.
If you’re not sure where to begin applying, here are some of the top schools in the nation for physical therapy to consider:
- University of Delaware
- University of Pittsburgh
- University of Southern California
Keep in mind that getting a doctorate in physical therapy will take up to 3 years of schooling. Adding that onto your bachelor’s program, you’re looking at about 7 years of schooling in order to become a physical therapist.
Following your doctorate program in physical therapy, you’ll need to complete your residency hours. This entails both coursework as well as clinical experiences. This is a wonderful time to get to know your colleagues better, rub shoulders, and learn from the more experienced people in the field to discover a specialty you’d like to focus on.
Physical therapy is like a large umbrella with a wide variety of specialties underneath it to choose from. If you enjoy working with children, you could enter into a program that focuses on the needs of caring for kids. Another option is specializing in orthopedic physical therapy or sports medicine. The options are endless!
Whatever you choose, make sure that you enjoy it. If you’re not sure what you want to focus on, ask around. There’s no better way to get a better understanding of what you might enjoy than listening to other people’s experiences. Ask them what they like and dislike about their work and evaluate whether or not you might enjoy that too. A great place to get more information is a physical therapy clinic.
Get a License
You’re almost there! You’ve almost completed everything you need to become a physical therapist. In order to perform physical therapy, you have to have a license. Not a driver’s license, a physical therapy license.
Each state requires a license in order to practice physical therapy and they must be renewed regularly. To get a license, you must take and pass the National Physical Therapy Examination. Once you pass that, you’ll be able to apply for jobs and legally practice physical therapy.
If you want to specialize even further in your physical therapy practice, you can earn a certification that declares you as an expert in a certain field. Earning a certification isn’t required, but can make you a better candidate for certain jobs.
In order to get a certification in physical therapy, you have to be licensed as well as having a minimum of 2,000 hours of clinical practice in the specialty area you wish to be certified in. Keep in mind that a quarter of those hours must’ve been completed within the past 3 years. Gaining a certification also requires you to take an exam. If you’re willing to go the extra mile, you could be offered better job opportunities based off of your specialty. Not to mention, it looks great on a resume.