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Major in Pre-Physical Therapy
Article by Rachelle Wiggins
“Whatever work God has allotted to you for this day, year, or decade, do it for His glory with the zeal and diligence that is granted to us through the Holy Spirit.” ~Christos Makridis
Physical therapy (PT) is a health and wellness profession dedicated to restoring fitness and health, specifically by reducing pain and improving muscle strength, stamina, range of motion and mobility. PT patients may be injured athletes, stroke victims, or those suffering from neurological trauma, chronic disability or illness. PTs work in hospitals, rehab centers, private therapy offices, residential centers, and in-home settings. Often collaberating as teammates with physicians, occupational therapists and other healthcare professionals, PTs are concerned with the science of movement and are trained to employ a wide range of exercises, stretches and hands-on therapies including the use of exercise tools and machines which are scientifically designed to improve physical functioning. The projected growth rate for this life-enhancing profession is on the rise. On average, other fields increase by about 7% per year, but physical therapy is growing at a projected 28% over the next decade, making it one of the country’s fastest growing professions! In addition, it has been rated as one of the “Top 20 Best Jobs” based on market growth, associated stress level, work-life balance and salary.
So, beyond a compassionate heart and the passion to help people, what are some of the other essential skills and traits necessary for excelling as a pre-physical therapy major? For starters, it is important to have a strong sense of determination. Not only is the program fairly demanding, but the job itself can be challenging and requires a level of ongoing education in order to stay up-to-date with rapidly changing therapies and treatments. Mental and physical stamina is critical. Also, when working with diverse populations, strong interpersonal and communication skills are a must! In PT it is imperative to listen well so as to properly assess the needs of patients and respond with optimum care. There is a lot of explaining, coaching, motivating and evaluation required and a client’s progress must constantly be reassessed. Because of this, it is important to be a patient, flexible problem-solver. A physical therapist must hold a fine balance between optimist and realism. Managing the ever-changing work load and treatment goals of multiple patients requires diligent organizational skills as well.
After obtaining a bachelor’s degree in pre-physical therapy, the majority of students will continue on in their education to obtain a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) which is typically a three-year program. Some colleges offer accelerated or dual degree programs to help students meet their undergraduate and graduate degree goals within six years. Regardless of your degree particulars, you should be prepared for long lab hours, 50+ hours of PT volunteer or work-related experience (required by most schools) and some sort of PT internship. Once your core requirements are met, including plenty of science courses like biology, chemistry and physics, your major in pre-physical therapy will include classes such as:
Obviously the most natural fit for a degree as specialized as physical therapy is in the immediate field of PT. However, PT majors find themselves in other related careers as well. Some examples are:
If you empathize with the hurting and thrive in a caregiving role, then maybe God’s next step for you is a major in pre-physical therapy! “Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.” Proverbs 16:3