When someone has a serious accident or significant disorder a surgeon may or may not be required, but doctor of physical therapy programs make certain that there are trained professionals prepared to follow up with that patient for the weeks, months, or even years that might be required to fully recover. Long after the surgeon has cleaned his instruments and closed the operating theater a physical therapist is still working with the patient to ensure that the person who came in with serious physical issues has resolved all those issues before being sent back out into the world. After the immediate problem of saving a patient's life has been resolved by one person the rewarding act of helping that patient rebuild their life is taken on by a physical therapist.
In reviewing doctor of physical therapy programs they must consider which path role best suits them to ensure that they are selecting the appropriate track. The biggest difference in paths is whether they wish to become a full physical therapist or a PTA (Physical Therapist Assistant) or if they wish to pursue a full fledged physical therapy role. In either case accredited doctor of physical therapy programs are essential for anyone who wants to be licensed to practice physical therapy. Both choices have there place and depending on the preferences of the student either one can lead to a future rich in experience and knowledge.
To become a physical therapist assistant may require just a two year degree, but it can be just as rewarding a career to have as any doctor could hope to enjoy. A solid foundation in musculoskeletal, neuromuscular, and biomechanical topics is just the start of the fascinating curriculum one will follow in preparation for their exciting career. Learning the magic of how the human body operates is only the first step. In the months that follow the student will also learn how to get the body functioning again when some disease or injury interferes with it. Then after a few quick months a student is able to begin practice as a PTA.
Just like any other doctor to become a physical therapist requires a doctorate degree. Early in the program there will be many parallels between a two year and a four year degree. In addition to the four year degree there are on average two to three years of post graduate work in addition that are needed in order to obtain certification as a physical therapist. Just like other medical professions an internship will follow the completion of academic study. As anyone can imagine the internship process is intense. Daily interactions with fully experienced doctors of physical therapy provide an educational experience that can not be replaced by anything short of internship. No amount of theoretical practice and book based study could ever compare with the opportunities offered in working with actual patients while being mentored by experienced physical therapists.