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.
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 semester of college until completion of the preprofessional curriculum, students must strive to achieve the best possible grades. Over one hundred physical therapy programs in the United States, including Georgia Regents, Emory, Mercer, North Georgia, and Armstrong Atlantic use a common application service (PTCAS) that provides detailed information about individual program requirements.
Professional training for this field will require the completion of an undergraduate degree, while there are specific preprofessional requirements, there is often 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 a Georgia College preprofessional adviser as well as the admissions counselors at prospective physical therapy schools to be certain that all requirements are met.
Students interested in a Career in Physical Therapy are urged to contact the College of Health Sciences.