Is Physical Therapist a Doctor?

a healthcare professional, possibly a physical therapist, who is attending to a patient

Physical therapists are medical specialists that restore functional movement in a person’s body by applying their understanding of anatomy, physiology, kinesiology, and pathology. They interact with patients to identify and treat injuries or disorders that impede normal movements.


With so much emphasis on education these days, it can be difficult to determine if one has the necessary credentials for specific occupations or jobs.


In this blog we will discuss the responsibilities of physical therapists, what do they, where you can find them, and how actually one can be a physical therapist.


What does a Physical Therapist do?

Physical therapists aim to restore function to those who have had an injury or illness that has hampered their bodies’ capacity to execute basic functions. Physical therapists work with patients one-on-one or in groups to help them restore movement, strength, and flexibility.


Physical therapy can help people of all ages and stages of life. Some physical therapists offer psychotherapy in addition to health suggestions and prevention strategies.


Where can You find Physical Therapists?

Physical therapists frequently work in healthcare facilities, hospitals, and private practices. They can also help out in local schools, sports teams, and other public institutions by volunteering their time.


What does a Physical Therapist do?

Physical therapists are often referred by medical specialists. Physical therapists analyze each individual and then create a treatment plan to help them move better, decrease or manage pain, regain function, and avoid disability. They may use a variety of therapeutic approaches, such as exercising, stretching, using various equipment, and other hands-on methods.


Is a Physical Therapist a doctor?

The quick answer is that some are and some are not. This is determined by when your physical therapist began practicing. Doctorates are not required for all Physical Therapists.


Some PTs only have a Bachelor’s degree, while others have a Master’s of Science in Physical Therapy.


In 1996, the first Doctor of Physical Therapy degree was conferred. Prior to that, physical therapists earned a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree before pursuing a Ph.D. Things changed after the introduction of Ph.D. degrees in physical therapy in the mid-1990s.


Doctoral degrees have already surpassed Masters’s degrees in physical therapy education, with 94% of authorized APTA programs transitioning from Masters to Ph.D. programs.


To put that into perspective, there are still a large number of physical therapists who received a degree after the 2000s and can thus use the suffix “Dr.” to distinguish themselves from non-PTs.


However, not everyone who earned a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in the early 1990s is still working. They have decades of experience that qualifies them just as much as a degree program.


How do You Become a Physical Therapist?

A sequence of specified stages must be completed in order to become an accredited physical therapist.


The steps are broken down below.


1. Get a Relevant Bachelor’s Degree

A prospective student must first complete a number of prerequisites, including observation hours, before being admitted to Physical Therapy School. Before commencing their studies in physical therapy, students typically pursue a degree in an area relating to health, fitness, sports, or science.


2. Earn your Doctor of Physical Therapy Degree

Doctor of Physical Therapy degrees last three years and incorporate both classroom instruction and clinical experience. DPT programs, which are convenient for working students, often take four years to finish.


3. Pass the National Physical Therapy Examination.

Now that you’ve completed your degree, it’s time to get your physical therapist license. To earn a license, you must pass the National Physical Therapy Examination.


4. Obtain Your license to Practice Medicine.

Based on your NPTE pass and whether or not you need to take compliance training, your state board will determine what this looks like.


You must first complete the steps outlined above in order to become a certified physical therapist. After finishing, you can pursue becoming a board-certified expert by completing a postgraduate clinical residency.

In summary

Physical therapy is a type of therapy that involves physical manipulation to help people with mobility, strength, and endurance issues.


Physical therapy benefits include a wide range of prospective outcomes, such as managing chronic pain, improving functional capacity, preventing re-injury, and enhancing the quality of life.


Read some articles here on some of the therapy that a physical therapist can do.