Planning a Career in Physical Therapy
Physical Therapy is an allied health profession dedicated to the rehabilitation of handicapped individuals. These professionals plan, organize, and administer treatment in order to restore functional mobility for patients suffering from a disabling injury or disease.
As members of the health care team, physical therapists use numerous therapeutic measures to help patients regain the maximum amount of function possible within the limits of their disability.
Elements of the Profession
Exercise, heat, cold, water, electricity, ultrasound, and massage are used to improve circulation, strengthen muscles, encourage the return of motion, and generally, to train and retrain the patient to perform the activities associated with daily living.
Additionally, emphasis is placed on preparing patients psychologically for treatment. Since the seriously disabled are often emotionally distraught, ways must be found to eliminate the barriers, gain the confidence of the patients, and establish a good rapport before the treatment can begin.
Much of the satisfaction of the job comes from the strong ties the therapist establishes in sharing the small physical triumphs as the patient progresses.
Physical therapists must often perform as administrators, researchers, consultants, and educators. Thus, they must have good organizational and communication skills as well as sound professional knowledge. The preprofessional courses that develop these skills also provide the strong learning platform for professional school success.
Students have numerous opportunities to interact with our outstanding teachers and other strong preprofessional students are provided by the challenging liberal arts curriculum at Georgia College.
The first step toward becoming a physical therapist involves specific preprofessional courses that are incorporated into an undergraduate degree from an accredited college or university. The importance of program planning for these preprofessional years cannot be overemphasized.
Admission requirements for professional schools vary and the assistance of a well-informed preprofessional adviser is valuable in making course selections and in applying to professional schools. The competition for positions in professional schools is extremely rigorous and students who are planning careers in physical therapy should apply to several schools. From the first quarter of college until completion of the preprofessional curriculum, students must strive to achieve the best possible grades. Grade point averages well above 3.0 are necessary for competitive professional school applicants.
While completing the preprofessional requirements and the undergraduate degree, a student must apply to a physical therapy program for the professional phase of their training.
Admission to all physical therapy programs is based on the following criteria:
- college grade point average
- SAT/ACT scores
- GRE scores
- personal interview
- work or supervised volunteer experience in the field of physical therapy
- knowledge of the field.
Upon admission to the professional program and completion of the program's requirements, the degree that is earned is a Master of Science in Physical Therapy.
Professional training for this field requires an undergraduate degree that includes specific preprofessional requirements. There is no prescribed undergraduate degree. The degree should be in an area where the student would like to work should he or she not be successful in gaining admission to a physical therapy program. The student who is preparing for one of these programs should be knowledgeable about the requirements and work closely with the preprofessional adviser and professional school admissions counselors to be certain that all requirements are met.