What Courses Are Needed to Become a Physical Therapist?

Any person wishing to pursue a career as a physical therapist must know the educational requirements for doing so. The last step before achieving this goal is completing a licensure exam. However, the candidate must do multiple things before they can sit for the exam. It all starts with their undergraduate courses.

Undergraduate Courses

Many courses will help a person move forward with their goal of being a physical therapist. Biology, anatomy, and physiology are three classes that will be of benefit, as they discuss the mechanics of the human body. Other classes a student might wish to take include kinesiology and exercise science. However, general education classes cannot be overlooked when choosing among the available options.

The student must also take classes such as English, math, and the humanities as part of getting trained as a physical therapist. It is best to discuss with a counselor at the selected school the best course selection. They often steer students to classes that are science and health-focused, but they will also ensure the student gets the general education credits they need to secure their diploma.

Grade point average is important when the time comes to apply to Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) programs, particularly those that are highly competitive. A student might also wish to volunteer or serve as an intern in a healthcare setting. Doing so may help them secure a position in the chosen DPT program.

Graduate Coursework

Once a student has been accepted to a DPT program, their courses will focus on many different healthcare areas. They may take classes in musculoskeletal diagnostics, therapeutic exercise, manual therapy methods, and pharmacology, among others. Other classes a physical therapy student may be asked to take include orthopedic evaluation, neuroscience, and modalities. Case analysis is another helpful class many programs now require students to take.

In addition to these classes, students take part in labs and simulations before joining clinical rotations. These hands-on activities allow them to get experience with patients under the watchful eyes of licensed practitioners. Many programs dedicate 20 percent of learning time to these hands-on activities.

In addition, the student will take classes not directly related to physical therapy. They will learn how to communicate with patients effectively, how to document medical care, ethical practices, and more. This ensures the student is equipped to take on all the duties of a physical therapist when their schooling is complete.

An Alternative to Conventional Schooling

Students might also choose to take part in a three-plus-three program. With this program, the student completes both their undergraduate work and DPT program in six years. Certain requirements must be met to complete the program, but many students find it is the fastest way to begin their career in the field.

The Licensure Exam

A student is not finished once they complete the DPT program. They must then sit for their state’s licensure exam. This exam includes both the NPTE and an exam specific to the state. When these exams have been passed, the student then obtains their physical therapy license.

Continuing Education

As with all healthcare workers, physical therapists take part in continuing education classes. In addition, a student may wish to take part in a residency program or fellowship. Doing so can help to advance their career.

Becoming a physical therapist isn’t easy. However, students find it to be worthwhile in the long run. If this is a field that interests you, reach out to one or more accredited programs today for more information. This information may be what you need to determine whether this career is right for you.

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