Getting a Physical Therapy Certification

Physical therapy is a great health career for those interested in the more physical aspects of patient care, rehabilitation, and helping people get through the injuries and illnesses that can happen in life.

It is a highly demanding profession, but also said to be one of the most valuable and well-regarded where personal satisfaction is concerned, having been named one of the happiest and best jobs overall by US News & World Report magazine in their annual list of #100 Best Jobs.

There is also the option to continue their education and get their physical therapy certification, opening up the possibility for specializing, and even more job opportunities making it easy to see how careers in physical therapy can be a great path for those individuals who are interested in these specialized rehabilitation areas.

Advanced Careers with Physical Therapy Certification

Becoming a board certified physical therapist is the second-highest qualification that you can gain, one which enables them to specialize in a number of different areas of their profession.

It can be a long road to do so, but it is one filled with many different educational opportunities and learning environments. Prior to becoming board certified however, licensed physical therapists must first fulfill a residency in physical therapy.

After becoming board certified, you may then continue in their specialty even further by taking a Fellowship, which is the highest level of education and specialty available to licensed professionals.

Physical Therapy Residency – After completion of all postgraduate schooling and passing their national licensing examination, those holding the degree of Doctor of Physical Therapy (or MPT, or MSPT), then apply for residency in an available program which will provide them with a higher level of “real life” education while actually working as a physical therapist.

Other Requirements

Residencies usually last between 9 and 36 months and involve 1500 hours of service in a variety of settings in order to complete the requirements. PT residencies more specialized, currently available in the following areas: Cardiovascular and Pulmonary, Clinical Electrophysiology, Geriatrics, Neurology, Orthopedics, Pediatrics, Sports, Women’s Health, and Wound Care.

Physical Therapy Fellowships – Fellowships provide yet even more experience and education toward a specialty or sub-specialty area. In order to qualify to apply to a fellowship, PTs must have one or more of the following qualifications: they must have graduated a residency program, they must be board-certified, and they must show exceptional clinical skills in an area of specialty to be considered.

If accepted to a fellowship, You will accrue another 6 to 36 months and 1000 hours of more highly specialized learning in one of the following areas: Hand Therapy, Movement Science, Neonatal, Orthopedic Manual Physical Therapy, and Sports – Division 1 Athletics. Many go on to teach, consult, or help to outline future residency and fellowship programs, as well as see patients in their specialty areas.

Becoming Certified in a Physical Therapy Specialty

Board approval in through specialty physical therapy certification is overseen and awarded in the US by the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties (ABPTS), which also maintains a set of standards that residency and fellowship programs must uphold.

They also dictate the necessary qualifications that you must have in order to become board certified and receive a certification in any of the above-named specialty areas, and provide numerous means for licensed professionals to increase their education and advance their professional development.

Board certification in these areas involves fulfilling all clinical experience and educational requirements, then taking and passing an examination given by the ABPTS.

Certification is applicable for 10 years, after which those certified must re-test in their specialty, as well as fulfill a number of other qualifications. Failure to obtain re-certification by the date of expiry of the current certification will cause the PT to have their certification removed.

It is possible to – and recommended – for those holding physical therapy certification in any specialty begin their recertification process up to three years before their expiry date.

Although the profession is one that holds great importance the world over, and has seen dramatic growth over recent past years with estimation of continued growth, qualifications and certification practices vary greatly from country to country.

US requirements tend to be stricter than most for PTs there is a shift happening in the world of physical therapy as other countries are beginning to increase their educational and professional requirements, possibly due to increased demand, as well as knowledge of newer and better therapies.

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