APTA Responds to BestSyndication.com on PT Educational Requirements

August 25, 2009

Dear Editor:

Thank you for highlighting the physical therapist as a rewarding career choice in the Aug. 12, 2009, article by Diana Dawn P. Paller, "How to become a Certified Physical Therapist." However, I believe your readers may need clarification regarding the educational requirements necessary to become a physical therapist.

Physical therapists are required to receive a graduate degree - either a master's degree (MPT/MSPT) or a clinical doctorate - from an accredited professional physical therapist program before taking the national licensure examination that, when passed, allows them to practice.

The clinical doctorate currently is not a requirement, although the majority of physical therapists are now graduating with a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree.

Once licensed, physical therapists apply their knowledge and expertise to provide care for people in a variety of settings, including hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, home health agencies, schools, sports, and fitness facilities, work settings, and nursing homes, among others. State licensure is required in each state in which a physical therapist practices.

Physical therapists examine individuals and develop plans of care, using treatment techniques that promote the ability to move, reduce pain, restore function, and prevent disability, in many cases avoiding costly surgery and the use of medication and its side effects. They also work with individuals to prevent the loss of mobility before it occurs by developing fitness- and wellness-oriented programs for healthier and more active lifestyles.

The American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties (ABPTS) has certified more than 9,000 individuals who have demonstrated advanced clinical knowledge and skills in physical therapy specialty areas. Currently, the ABPTS offers board-certification in eight specialty areas: Cardiovascular and Pulmonary, Clinical Electrophysiologic, Geriatric, Neurologic, Orthopaedic, Pediatric, Sports, and Women's Health physical therapy.

To learn more about the rewarding and challenging physical therapy profession, please visit www.moveforwardpt.com.

Yours sincerely,

Emilio J. Rouco
Director, Public Relations and Marketing
American Physical Therapy Association