Saturday, November 23, 2013

Best Physical Therapy Training Leads to the Best PT Careers

Due to the rapidly growing needs in the medical and healthcare industries - especially in the different rehabilitative fields - physical therapists are in high demand.

With an aging population that continues to experience longer life expectancy, as well as continued advancements in these types of therapies, licensed professionals with training not only have a great job outlook right now, but are said to have one of the most personally satisfying, rewarding positions of all professions.

Becoming a physical therapist does take a lot of hard work and involve a substantial college career first, but for those who have what it takes, including the deep desire to help people, it is a career of choice.

Getting the Right Physical Therapy Training

Physical therapy education and training varies from country to country, although in all cases a physical therapist will obtain a postgraduate degree and receive doctoral credentials.

Depending on the intensity of the programs and their specific curriculums, these degree programs can be anywhere from 4 to 8 years in their entirety, and dependent on each country's laws regarding physical therapists.

To become a licensed physical therapist in the US, students must get a postgraduate degree in physical therapy, usually awarded today as Doctor in Physical Therapy (DP).

This involves 4 years of undergraduate school with an emphasis on those courses that will aid acceptance into the very competitive programs, and then between 3 and 4 years of graduate school, including required externship.

Graduated PTAs are required to be licensed in order to practice, so they must pass a board run, state-issued licensing examination before they can legally seek employment.

Enrollment to most PT programs is usually very limited, with most programs receiving many more applicants than will be accepted.

Acceptance into the best programs is highly selective and usually involves many different qualifications including academic scores, already having completed certain general educational courses in English, math and the sciences, having taken some specific prerequisite courses to prepare students for their education in physical therapy, numerous hours of volunteer work and clinical observation and many others.

Most PT programs recommend that students begin working on their qualifications as early as taking the more advanced English, math and science courses in high school, which can qualify them for early admission into some PT programs that offer it.

Specialty Education for Physical Therapists

Continuing with their education, it is possible for physical therapists to take further training by completing one of many available residencies, which will provide a much more intense period of education and training while working as a physical therapist, a sort of full time, doctoral working student.

Residencies are usually available in a number of different settings including cardiovascular and pulmonary specialties, neurology, orthopedics, geriatrics, pediatrics, sports medicine, women's health and wound care. They can involve anything such as research, community service, teaching and more, and usually take anywhere from 9 to 36 months to complete.

Completing a residency in a physical therapy specialty enables the PT to apply for board certification with the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties (BPS).

To even further continue their physical therapy training, any PT who has completed a residency and is then board certified may then complete a specialty fellowship. Currently, there are specialties offered in hand therapy, neonatal, orthopedic, movement science and sports and athletics.

Fellowships are usually completed in 6 to 36 months and, upon reaching this most advanced level of education and training, a PT is able to seek employment as a specialist in one of the above-mentioned areas.

Salary Increases with Advanced Physical Therapy Training

Currently, the median income for physical therapists - the rate at which half of all PTAs are paid - is approximately $77,000 annually according to the US Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics. The high-end range for salaries for physical therapists is as much as $110,000 or more, annually.

It is estimated that only 10% of all licensed PTAs, out of a population of close to 70,000 licensed individuals, take home earnings in this higher salary tier, most of which are either board certified specialists or have graduated a residency program enabling them to work in more competitive positions.

As with many healthcare careers, getting the best education and training from physical therapy assistant schools is going to be paramount in finding the best employment opportunities afterward.

For those looking to specialize, their physical therapy training will be even more critical. Continuing education for higher qualifications in physical therapy is a long-term endeavor, but one with many professional and personal benefits for the right person.


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