As the healthcare industry on a whole has increased in recent years, and continues to do so today, there are more employment opportunities than ever before.One of the only industries that has seen this continued growth despite uncertain economic times, there is no better time than now to make any dreams of becoming a physical therapist a reality.Students preparing to leave high school and considering which colleges to apply to should consider the many physical therapy schools out there if they are interested in a medical career that does not involve actual medicine and surgery itself, but are after a more hands-on position, such as that of a physical therapist or rehabilitation specialist.Educational Requirements for Physical TherapistsBecoming a physical therapist involves extensive training, as well as completion of a postgraduate degree.In order for someone to earn their DPT (doctorate in physical therapy), students must first complete a bachelor’s degree with emphasis on becoming a physical therapist, and then be accepted to – and graduate – a specialized postgraduate program for physical therapists.A few schools still award an MPT (Master of Physical Therapy) or MSPT (Master of Science in Physical Therapy) degree, but those degrees are currently being phased out in many countries including the US, Canada and the UK, so that all physical therapists will then earn the same degree, the DPT.Postgraduate physical therapy programs usually last three years and include professional externships and clinical rotations in order for students to gain actual, on the job experience in the field before they are finished their schooling.In total, students who have completed all necessary courses that have been geared toward becoming a physical therapist (such as taking appropriate sciences during undergraduate study) can expect to spend 7 years gaining their education in most cases. Once having graduated, students may then take licensing examinations anywhere they are required for employment.Choosing the Right Physical Therapy SchoolsThe main concern that any prospective physical therapy students should have when choosing physical therapy schools is that the school is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE) in the US, by the Physiotherapy Education Accreditation Canada (PEAC) in Canada, the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy in the UK or their country’s specific accreditation board in order to assure they are getting the best possible education and training.It has become almost unheard of at this point for any physical therapy schools to not be accredited, but students should be sure before enrolling, since earning their degree, obtaining licensure, and future employment will likely be affected if the school attended is not accredited by one of these organizations.Students with questions about a school’s accreditation are recommended to contact their local accreditation board to inquire about the program, and determine whether it is an acceptable one in order for them to achieve their professional goals of becoming a physical therapist.Other than determining the appropriate accreditation when considering the different physical therapy schools, there are other questions students will want to ask if they are particularly motivated to get their education finished as quickly as possible so that they may commence employment.Some schools will accept certain science and health courses that are taken as undergraduates, crediting them toward their postgraduate degree rather than having the student take the same course again.Also, it is sometimes possible to take externship training while still finishing classroom courses, or there are even some schools that will graduate students before their externship, although they may not sit for their licensing exams before they have completed their on the job training.Admission To SchoolsAnother consideration for high school students who are particularly advanced and already know they are going to pursue a career in physical therapy is applying for early admission to a number of physical therapy schools who offer it.Early admission to these programs guarantees a student admission to their physical therapy school once they have completed undergraduate study, with the added benefit that they can have the extra guidance as to which undergraduate courses to take in order to finish their postgraduate study faster than those students accepted through regular admissions.The good news is that there are hundreds of quality, accredited physical therapy schools available where interested students can enroll and get their degree.Becoming a licensed physical therapist will take hard work and dedication, but the profession enjoys one of the highest rates of job satisfaction of any profession, as well as a very competitive salary, making it all worthwhile.
Today there is an increased demand for physical therapists, one of the fastest growing segments of the medical and healthcare industry.It has been estimated that through the year 2020, general demand for medical professionals will continue to rise about 14% each year, but according to recent data by the US Department of Labor demand for physical therapists will increase as much as 39%.This means that there has never been a better time for attending one of the 211 accredited physical therapy colleges in the US, as well as the many others in Canada, the UK and other countries.With so much opportunity ahead, the physical therapy field is growing in leaps and bounds, providing an exciting professional landscape for students entering this field.Accreditation is Everything with Physical Therapy CollegesThe profession of physical therapy has become a highly competitive one in recent years considering the many, newer therapies being developed and used today, health insurance companies changing outlook on these therapies, and increased demand for licensed PTs to perform them.For this reason, students looking to enter the field should know ahead of time that while there are a vast number of new positions opening up every year, it is still important to attend the best program possible.Employers will be looking for the cream of the crop each year, which will of course graduate from better, accredited physical therapy colleges.The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) and the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE) are the main professional organizations in the US that involve themselves with ensuring the quality of approved physical therapy program offerings.In the UK, it is the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy overseeing educational courses, and in Canada, the Physiotherapy Education Accreditation Canada (PEAC).Physical Therapy Colleges and PT LicensesThrough these organizations, educational programs for the physical therapist are monitored to ensure they continue to deliver the highest quality of education to their students, that which is necessary in order to successfully pass the board-issued licensing examination (in the US) and to have success in the field.Accreditation by these institutes allows students to be confident they will have access to the best education and training possible.Prospective students are cautioned to verify accreditation of their school of choice by checking with the above-mentioned organizations in order to have the best professional opportunity once they have graduated college.Failure to graduate an accredited physical therapy program will cause students to be ineligible to sit for their state licensing examination (in the US), which is required for employment as a PT, and may make them ineligible for certain employment opportunities depending on each country’s employment requirements.Acceptance to Physical Therapy Colleges is Hard Work… but Worth ItGiven how competitive and selective the profession of physical therapy is today, getting accepted to an accredited program is not easy, either, but putting in the necessary effort is well worth it in the long run.Physical therapists earn a respectable median salary of around $76,000 annually, but beyond that, they also tend to have some of the highest personal satisfaction levels with their job, which equates to a great way for people to spend their day.If loving your job and being happy to go to work is a priority, becoming a physical therapist is one of the professions that will give you that, apparently.Since not everyone is going to succeed in their college career in becoming a PT, it is important that prospective students be as prepared as possible for the challenges that lie ahead of them.The application process for most accredited schools can be lengthy, with many requirements such as having a certificate in CPR, passing a background check and having previous clinical observation or volunteer experience at a PT facility.Additionally, most schools require at least one, if not more than one, letters of recommendation from a physical therapy practitioner stating that the student is a good candidate for a PT program.Be PreparedAcademically, the requirements are steep. Many more people apply to physical therapy colleges each year than are accepted, and many times the reason is because of lack of preparation on the student’s part.Most PT schools recommend that students who may already have it in mind that they might consider a career as a physical therapist start early by taking higher level English, math and science classes in high school, and continue the same in their undergraduate schooling.PT programs can usually provide a recommended curriculum for undergraduate students so they can complete as many required classes as possible before actually applying to the program, which will both increase their chance of acceptance and give the student more time to focus on technical courses if accepted.Naturally, the students with the best grades and college preparatory exam scores (SAT, ACT, etc) overall will receive more consideration, too.Those applying to an accredited physical therapy college need to be exemplary students in order for consideration, and even then there will still be a lot of competition. Preparation is the key to earning the best chance at acceptance, and that should start in the senior year of high school.Those who work hard and make the cut, then graduate their PT programs, will be rewarded with a great career helping people, and the financial and personal successes that go along with it.
Find Physical Therapy Programs in the United States and Canada. There is a vast assortment of physical therapy programs from which to choose. For instance, if you have already attained a certain level of education from one of over 200 accredited physical therapy programs in the United States, you will find that that a number of schools and universities provide extended career training in Masters Degree in Physical Therapy, post-graduate Doctor of Physical Therapy Programs, as well as Transitional Doctor of Physical Therapy Programs.Depending on which physical therapy program in which you enroll, there are several specialized areas of study that are currently available. Various colleges and universities provide practical training in orthopedic physical therapy, geriatric physical therapy, neurological physical therapy, occupational physical therapy, cardiovascular/pulmonary rehabilitation, and pediatric physical therapy, among others.If you are more interested in becoming a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or physical therapy aide, there are also numerous physical therapy programs primarily designed for the future PTA in mind. Candidates learn how to work under the supervision of a licensed physical therapist after they have successfully graduated from an accredited Associate degree program.Associates in Physical Therapy programs often take approximately two years to complete and are the educational stepping stone for physical therapy assistants. Upon completion, graduates can go onto attaining their Bachelors, Masters or Doctorates and earn the right to become licensed physical therapists. Depending on the degree course, students can anticipate a curriculum in anatomy, CPR and first aid, physiology, biology, chemistry, and physics; and practical training in therapeutic modalities (including massage techniques, manual and mechanical therapies, etc.). While not all physical therapy schools offer the exact same curriculum, accredited physical therapy programs (by the American Physical Therapy Association APTA) must meet common, and basic educational standards; so while many may differ in specialized training, the academic foundations are very similar.Once training has been successfully completed in one of countless physical therapy programs, graduates can earn from $24k – $88k annually.* (Depending on level of education, experience and training.)If you (or someone you know) are interested in finding physical therapy programs, let professional training within fast-growing industries like massage therapy, cosmetology, acupuncture, oriental medicine, Reiki, and others get you started! Explore career school programs near you.*Salary Source: BLS (US Bureau of Labor Statistics)Physical Therapy Programs: Courses of Study© Copyright 2007The CollegeBound NetworkAll Rights ReservedNOTICE: Article(s) may be republished free of charge to relevant websites, as long as Copyright and Author Resource Box are included; and ALL Hyperlinks REMAIN intact and active.
Physical therapy is the treatment of functional limitations to prevent the onset or to retard the progression of physical impairments following illness or injury. Medicare pays for physical therapy in at least two contexts:I. Through the Part A hospital insurance benefit, Medicare pays for physical therapy as a component of skilled nursing care, in either the acute care setting or in a post-hospital skilled nursing facility. In order to qualify for reimbursement, such therapy must meet the criteria for skilled nursing care under 42 U.S.C. – 1495i. In order to qualify, a patient otherwise appropriate for Medicare must show a qualifying hospital stay of three or more days within the 30 days prior to entering the skilled nursing facility. A physician must order procedures for the patient that are appropriate to be performed only in a Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF), such as rehabilitative therapy, and must certify that the patient’s condition is such that he or she can practically be cared for only in a SNF. In so certifying, the physician must determine that the patient’s condition should improve or achieve stability in response to curative care. The SNF medical staff is required to write a plan of care for each skilled nursing patient based upon the individual’s needs and circumstances. Upon satisfaction of those requirements, Medicare will pay for 100 days of skilled nursing care per-patient per-illness period – though after the first 20 days a co-payment of 20% is required of the patient. Once a patient qualifies, Medicare bears all expenses of the skilled nursing facility, including the patient’s custodial care and room and board (custodial care is not otherwise covered by Medicare). Typically, an SNF receives approximately $650 per day from Medicare for a qualifying skilled nursing patient.II. Additionally, through Part B supplemental insurance, Medicare reimburses for physical therapy under limited circumstances. In order to qualify for reimbursement, outpatient physical therapy services must: (1) be reasonable and medically necessary; (2) be furnished to a Medicare beneficiary under the care of a physician; (3) be furnished under a plan of care periodically recertified by a physician; and (4) be furnished by or under the direct supervision of qualified personnel.Medicare regulations require that physical therapy services be performed either (1) by a State-licensed physical therapist or (2) by or “incident to” the services of a physician or other medical professional licensed to perform such services under State law pursuant to 42 C.F.R. § 410.60. Under the “incident to” rule, a physician may bill for physical therapy services performed by non-physician personnel so long as those services are (a) commonly furnished in a physician’s office and integral to a physician’s covered services; (b) included in a treatment plan designed by the physician and in which the physician is actively involved; and (c) furnished under the physician’s direct supervision.In order to bill directly – rather than through a physician – a physical therapist must be State-licensed. Physical therapy services performed incident to a physician’s services may be performed by personnel without a license – however, such personnel must otherwise meet all qualifications of a licensed physical therapist including graduation from an approved physical therapy education program.Regardless of who performs physical therapy services to be billed to Medicare or Medicaid, such services must be furnished in accordance with a sufficient plan of care established by a physician or by the licensed physical therapist who performs the services. Under 42 C.F.R. § 410.60, the plan must “prescribe the type, amount, frequency, and duration of the physical therapy… to be furnished to the individual, and indicate the diagnosis and anticipated goals.”Abuse of the Therapy Medicare BenefitUnfortunately, fraud in physical therapy is rampant. In 1994, the Office of Inspector General, Department of Health and Human Services published a report finding that 78% of physical therapy billed by physicians did not constitute true physical therapy. In 2006, OIG published another report, stating that a staggering 91% of physician physical therapy bills submitted in the first half of 2002 were deficient in at least one regard. Through intense investigation and research, we have identified and uncovered the following types of physical therapy fraud:(a) billing for therapy services performed by unqualified personnel;
(b) billing for therapy services that were never performed or only partially performed;
(c) billing for therapy services when, in fact, the service performed was unskilled, or amounted to maintenance therapy, or both, and did not constitute physical therapy;
(d) billing for therapy services performed under a deficient plan of care;
(e) billing under individual therapy codes for group therapy services.Under the federal and some state false claims acts, whistleblowers can file suit against fraudulent therapy and skilled nursing companies under seal and may share in as much as 25% (and in some circumstances 30%) of the award. Blowing the whistle on corporate fraud takes courage, however, and the law rewards that courage with certain protections. The False Claims Act provides for a whistleblower’s case to be filed under seal and for the identity of the whistleblower to be protected during the course of the government’s investigation. Further, federal laws protect against retaliation by mandating the reinstatement of wrongfully fired employees at the same seniority level, and an award of double back pay, interest, and attorneys’ fees. More than $22 billion of taxpayer funds have been recovered under the False Claims Act over the past two decades. Despite all of the efforts and success by government and private attorneys policing the Medicare program under the False Claims Act, the only way that such fraud can be fought effectively is for people with knowledge – industry insiders, administrators, nurses, and therapists – to come forward and say that enough is enough.