Careers in Physical Therapy

By the year 2020, the American Physical Therapy Association projects that all new physical therapists will need to have a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree (DPT) in order to practice. A physical therapist's duties include the examination and evaluation of patients/clients, the development and implementation of intervention programs, and patient education and supervision of other health care practitioners. This means that the responsibility of physical therapist practitioners for medical screening is increasing. Physical therapists must be able to recognize patients whose condition is not what physical therapists are trained to treat and refer the patients to a physician or other health care practitioner.

Who are Physical Therapists?

Physical therapists are movement specialists. A physical therapist provides care for patients with movement impairments resulting in physical disability or pain so that physical and functional abilities can be restored.

Physical therapists also work with clients who want to improve their physical performance and fitness level. A physical therapist's duties include the examination and evaluation of patients/clients, the development and implementation of intervention programs, patient education and supervision of other health care practitioners. In addition to patient care, physical therapists may also serve as administrators, teachers, researchers, and consultants.

Some examples are patients with:

  • Acute medical conditions
  • Orthopedic disorders
  • Sports injuries
  • Pediatric disorders
  • Geriatric disorders
  • Cardiopulmonary disorders
  • Work-related injuries
  • Neurologic disorders developmental delay
  • Disorders that cause pain

Where will I work?

Physical therapists work can work in a variety of settings, including:

  • Hospitals
  • Outpatient clinics
  • Private practices
  • School settings
  • Community-based programs
  • Day care settings
  • Home health
  • Industrial settings
  • Military services

Physical therapists can also become researchers, teach as a clinical instructor or in an academic setting, provide information on prevention and wellness, and act as consultants.

For information on salaries on a national, state or regional level click here.

Quick Facts

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PT Alumni

Lindsay Winninger

Lindsay Winninger ('08) was named physical therapist for the US Women's Alpine Ski Team in May 2012. Winninger said, "I started providing periodic coverage for the US Ski team during the 2011-2012 season and I became full time with the team in May 2012. I oversee a group of 17 girls (world cup level through our development team) throughout the year and then I travel and provide physical therapy and medical services to our women's alpine world cup speed team. The world cup tour runs from late November until mid-March, and mostly occurs in Europe. In the summer and fall I travel to training camps with the girls and provide clinic coverage at the training facility, The Center Of Excellence, in Park City, Utah. Working and traveling with the team has been a great experience and I'm looking forward to the girls dominating at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia," said Winninger. The World Cup athletes Winninger works with includes Stacey Cook, Julia Mancuso, Alice McKennis, Laurenne Ross, Mikaela Shiffrin, Leanne Smith, Resi Stiegler, and Lindsey Vonn.

Eric Hooper Nuclear Medicine Technology Alumni

Aaron Borgmann

Aaron Borgmann ('06), works with the Kansas City Chiefs. Borgmann said, "I accepted a position working with the Kansas City Chiefs after working with the Philadelphia Eagles for seven seasons. Since moving to KC, my job duties have expanded to handling not only everyday rehab and treatment aspects of players, but also the record keeping, appointment scheduling, and medication distribution for both players and coaches. I also coordinate the entirety of our extensive physicals which include eight separate medical sections for 90 players at a time. Currently we are focused heavily on the draft and all the medical information that goes along with that."

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