All States require physical therapists to pass a
licensure exam before they can practice, after
graduating from an accredited physical therapist
According to the American Physical Therapy
Association, there are 205 accredited physical
Of the accredited programs, 94 offered masterís
degrees, and 111 offered doctoral degrees. All
physical therapist programs seeking accreditation
are required to offer degrees at the masterís degree
level and above, in accordance with the Commission
on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education.
Physical therapist programs start with basic
science courses such as biology, chemistry, and
physics and then introduce specialized courses,
including biomechanics, neuroanatomy, human growth
and development, manifestations of disease,
examination techniques, and therapeutic procedures.
Besides getting classroom and laboratory
instruction, students receive supervised clinical
experience. Among the courses that are useful when
one applies to a physical therapist educational
program are anatomy, biology, chemistry, social
science, mathematics, and physics. Before granting
admission, many professional education programs
require experience as a volunteer in a physical
therapy department of a hospital or clinic. For high
school students, volunteering with the school
athletic trainer is a good way to gain experience.
Physical therapists should have strong
interpersonal skills in order to be able to educate
patients about their physical therapy treatments.
Physical therapists also should be compassionate and
possess a desire to help patients. Similar traits
are needed to interact with the patientís family.
Physical therapists are expected to continue
their professional development by participating in
continuing education courses and workshops. In fact,
a number of States require continuing education as a
condition of maintaining licensure.