Becoming a Physical Therapist
The first thing that you need to make sure you have when it comes to making an effort towards a career in physical therapy is dedication. Between the schooling, the certification and all of the other requirements that you need to meet on a daily basis once you have become a physical therapist, this is no task for the weak willed or uncommitted.
Once you are certain that you want to become a physical therapist, you must first get your undergraduate degree. The undergraduate degrees in the sciences are usually the most favored when it comes to graduate degree programs but, at the very least, you must make sure that your course load includes a great deal of science courses. Also, while an undergraduate you must intern or volunteer at local hospitals or healthcare facilities in the physical therapy area to show that you want to pursue this as a career.
After your undergraduate experience, one must chose an accredited graduate school and complete a doctorate or a master’s in physical therapy. The Commission on Accreditation of Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE) granted accreditation to only 212 schools to allow people to become physical therapists in 2008 according to the bureau of labor statistics. 200 of them were doctorates programs with a mere 12 being master’s programs. The schooling process is difficult and grants you a great deal of hands on experience which will put you in a position to succeed once you graduate.
I’ve graduated. Now what?
The other requirement, once you have graduated from an accredited school, is to get your license. Licensure is granted on a state by state basis but there are some base level requirements that are nationwide. The most significant requirement, aside from the accredited degree, is passing the National Physical Therapy Examination. This exam is required by every state but states also have the power to require more testing and continuing education. All states regulate the licensing process on an individual basis so the requirements may vary.
In becoming a physical therapist, it is a good idea to go to school in the same place that you go on to practice as this will allow you to create connections in the area that will put you in a position to succeed once you have gotten your license. Also, while you are in school, your school will most likely be better equipped to teach you about the exact state requirements for the state where you are looking to gain licensure.
You now have a few options when it comes to the practicality of working as a physical therapist. You can gain employment through a major hospital or another healthcare facility which will provide you with a lot of the stability that many are seeking coming out of school. You also have the option of being more of an entrepreneur and starting your own private practice. The best physical therapists are those that really care about what they are doing regardless of where they are practicing. Becoming a physical therapist is not an easy process, but the benefits for both the patients and the professional are boundless.