Physical Therapy: Education?

Question by Curious George: Physical therapy: education?
I am thinking about going into physical therapy and have a few questions about college and such:
-I was reading about a freshman entry course that some colleges have? What is the main reason it would benefit me? Hurt me?
-I either want to be a sports physical therapist or a pediatric physical therapist, at what point do specialize?
-I would like to go somewhere in DC but I can only find George Washington as a good physical therapy school. Is this right?
-What is the difference between a sports physical therapist and an athletic trainer?
I currently have a 98 average overall in high school. At what point should I start volunteering or trying to get an internship?
Thank you so much

Best answer:

Answer by jannsody
A physical therapist needs to obtain a doctorate (DPT). A PT student must first get a bachelor’s (four-year) degree and have taken all of the specific and necessary prerequisite courses. The undergraduate major can theoretically be in “any” course of study, however, the “admissions” department of a PT school may weigh more heavily on those who’d majored in one of the sciences (e.g., biology, chemistry, physics, kinesiology/”study of human movement” or physiology). Those who major in one of the sciences and who have a high GPA/grade point average (in both pre-req courses and overall GPA) may show the “admissions” department that the student may be able to handle the rigorous nature of the PT curriculum.

The prospective PT student must also have excellent letters of recommendation, usually has to have gotten a competitive score for the “graduate record exam”/GRE (or similar type of test), and most likely volunteer and/or accrue observation hours of a licensed PT.

Before taking pre-req courses for PT (or any major), please job shadow/observe in the various departments that administer PT (with prior approval), including a *physical rehabilitation hospital* that treats patients with (TBI), spinal cord injury/paralysis, stroke (“brain attack”) which is a type of brain injury, multiple sclerosis (MS), other neurological disorders, hip/shoulder/knee replacement, amputated limbs or such – *pediatric hospital* – *nursing home/long-term care facility* or such.

Pertaining to athletic trainers, someone had told me that a PT recommended attending PT school rather than for athletic training itself. Perhaps it gives more options to the individual as there may not be too many jobs for athletic trainers.

It’s my understanding that the PT student doesn’t usually specialize until after finishing school. The person may take “continuing education” courses and/or workshops and seek additional certification. There are some PT schools that offer a “residency” program, but I believe that it’s usually only possible after having completed PT school and clinical fieldwork (and a PT “residency” may not be the norm/standard).

As for accredited PT schools in DC, the other school is apparently Howard University.

Please be aware that admissions to PT school is supposed to be VERY competitive, so one may consider applying to a few different PT schools.

Please know that not all science or math (or other) classes may transfer to other schools or programs. For example, “human anatomy” usually does NOT transfer to other schools, especially for nursing, allied health or medical students. Instead, most schools prefer that the student have taken “general” anatomy & physiology, so it’s best to check with the individual school(s) beforehand.

Some PT schools recommend certain courses but don’t require them. For example, medical terminology, exercise science, and kinesiology may not be pre-req classes but strongly recommended. Pertaining to “medical terminology”, that can help with reading patients’ charts and basic overall knowledge.

The PT student must get a passing score for the clinical fieldwork placements while under the supervision of a licensed PT and having an actual patient caseload.

Before starting clinical fieldwork, the PT student may need to have gotten a BLS (basic life support) certification for “healthcare providers” through the “American heart association” (AHA).

For more general info re: the PT field and accredited schools:

Answer by Mary
As the other poster said, the best source of info is

If I had to do it over. I would go to my local cc and take all of my pre reqs and earn a AS in liberal arts science. Then I would go to my local state school and earn a bs in business or psy. The key is getting a high gpa and gre. You also need shadow hours under a PT. This is where you will get your letter of recommendations.

Once in PT school, you will take about 2 years of didactic and lab class to learn about PT and then you will spend 1 year at least 4 clinics under the supervision of a PT. usually one acute, ortho, neuro/rehab and an optional (peds, sports, ortho, etc)

Once you graduate you will be eligible to take the national exam

I am a PT

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