Who they are: Physical therapists are health care professionals who evaluate/treat people with health problems that impair bodily movement. Physical therapy is a healing art that recognizes the nature of the human spirit that mobilizes the body and the importance of handling people with tolerance, compassion, dignity, and wisdom.
What they do: Physical therapists are trained to be generalists with skill in evaluation/treatment of patients, resources management, supervision, education, consultation, screening, and referral – serving patients with a variety of clinical conditions. The profession is dedicated to promoting/maintaining maximum physical function in healthy individuals and to restoring the highest possible level of physical function in individuals impaired by disease or injury.
Where they work: They can work in a variety of settings: hospitals, rehabilitation centers, long-term care facilities, acute care facilities, private practice, school systems, industry, sports medicine, and home health.
Outlook: Factors such as aging population and improved management of chronic conditions have created a greater need for physical therapists. Both national and local projections indicate a continued growth in physical therapy jobs through at least the year 2014.
To become a physical therapist, students complete a Doctorate of Physical Therapy (DPT). At the University of Minnesota, earning a DPT takes three years of schooling, composed of both classroom and clinical learning. To apply to physical therapy school, students use the Physical Therapist Centralized Application Service, or PTCAS. A list of accredited DPT programs that use PTCAS can be found here.
Once DPT students have graduated their program, they must take the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) to become licensed. Once licensed in their state of practice, a PT must complete continuing education to renew their license.