APTA Responds to BusinessWeek About PT Education

September 29, 2009

Dear Editor:

I am writing to clarify information you printed, concerning educational requirements for physical therapists in "Looking for a New Career? Try Physical Therapy" by Rebecca Reisner.

Ms. Reisner states that, "...full-fledged physical therapists need a bachelor's degree and a doctoral degree." In truth, physical therapists are required to receive either a masters or a clinical doctorate from an accredited physical therapist program before taking the national licensure examination that allows them to practice. While it is not required most of today's physical therapists are indeed graduating with a doctor of physical therapy (DPT) degree.

Ms. Reisner also says that students start "with a bachelor of science degree...next comes volunteer work, about 200 to 300 hours' worth, in physical therapy clinics, and then a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree, which takes three years." This is not true.

The length of the Master's degree (MPT, MSPT, MS) program is between six and nine semesters, which typically includes a 15-week clinical affiliation. The clinical affiliation is mandatory and designed to broaden students' experience and skills through exposure to various clinical practice settings.

Students are typically in the doctor of physical therapy (DPT) program for three years and the clinical education experience extends beyond the average of 15 weeks; some are one year in length.

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