Physical therapists (PT) - provide care to people of all ages who have functional problems resulting from back and neck injuries (sprains, strains, fractures, arthritis, amputations), neurological disorders (such as stroke or cerebral palsy), injuries related to work and sports, and other conditions.
PTs are trained to use a variety of different techniques—sometimes called modalities—to care for their patients. These techniques include applying heat and cold, using assistive devices (such as crutches, wheelchairs, and walkers) and equipment (such as adhesive electrodes which apply electric stimulation to treat injuries and pain.)
What does a PT do? - The work of a physical therapist varies by type of patient. For example, a patient experiencing loss of mobility due to stroke needs different care from that given to an athlete recovering from an injury. Some physical therapists specialize in one type of care, such as orthopedics or geriatrics, while some may work at preventing loss of mobility by developing fitness and wellness programs to encourage healthier and more active lifestyles.
Job components can include:
Review patients’ medical history and any referrals or notes from doctors or surgeons.
Diagnose patients’ dysfunctional movements by observing them stand or walk and by listening to their concerns, among other methods.
Set up a plan of care for patients, outlining the patient’s goals and the expected outcome of the plan.
Use exercises, stretching maneuvers, hands-on therapy, and equipment to ease patients’ pain.
Evaluate a patient’s progress, modifying a plan of care and trying new treatments as needed.
- Educate patients and their families about what to expect from and how best to cope with the recovery process.
GRE Score - The GRE (Graduate Record Examination) is a multiple-choice, computer-based, standardized exam that is required for admission to TX PT schools. This exam consists of 3 sections: Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, and Analytical Writing. Achieving a 150 in the verbal and quantitative sections and a 3.5 in writing would be considered a solid score.
Most students take this exam in the spring or early summer of the year in which they apply. The exam can be taken on weekday mornings or afternoons and your score is given to you at the conclusion. You can take the exam more than once, yet you must wait 30 days in between testing.
Grade Point Ratio: PT programs will look at your Science/Math, overall, last 60 hours, and prerequisite GPR. A 3.5 in all areas is considered competitive.
Science and Math - This GPR varies per program and is not usually as big a component as the other GPRs considered.
Last 60 hours - Your last 60 graded hours. This is an indication that the programs are looking at your grade trends (which need to be upward). It is a great opportunity to prove yourself academically especially if you had a rough academic start to your college career.
Prerequisite GPR - The classes listed below are what most Texas programs require:
BIOL (111 and 112)
CHEM (119, 120, or 101/111, 102/112)
PHYS (201, 202) (junior college credit is acceptable)
Anatomy and Physiology (Biol or Bims route)
PSYC 107 & 307* *Psyc 2314 is a common substitute for Psyc 307
STAT 301, 302, or 303
Specific Field Experience: Texas PT schools require a certain amount of hours, it varies from 40-100 hours; however, having just these required hours will not make you competitive. Competitive hours would be 250+. It is a good idea to start on these hours as a freshman or as soon as you can. PT programs also like to see that you have been in a variety of settings. Try to get experience in a hospital, a privately owned clinic, and/or a clinic or rehab center. These hours can be from working, volunteering, or shadowing.
Letters from evaluators: Every school differs in this regard. Some will want only evaluations filled out, some will want only letters, some will want both! The central application you fill out when applying will let you know what is required by each Texas program. Be prepared to ask a professor and two physical therapists. Stay in touch with all the PTs you spend time with you may need them to officially verify the time you spent with them when it is time to apply.
General Medical Experience: Non-PT related medical experience will count, not as PT hours but it's something you can put on your application. It can include volunteering, working, or shadowing in hospitals, clinics and medical mission trips, anything not PT related.
Community Service: A non-medical related type of community service is recommended, (soup kitchen, Habitat). PT programs want to know that you care about your community and have leadership skills.
What is the PTCAS? - In an effort to simplify the application process for prospective physical therapist (PT) students and to facilitate the admissions process for professional PT educational programs, the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) launched Physical Therapist Centralized Application Service (PTCAS).
PTCAS allows PT applicants to use a single web-based application and 1 set of materials to apply to multiple PT programs. PTCAS is a service of the American Physical Therapy Association.
Applicants who apply through PTCAS submit a completed web-based application comprised of biographical data, institutions attended, academic course history, physical therapy observation hours, list of reference providers, work experiences, extracurricular activities, honors, professional licenses, and a personal essay. It is the applicant's responsibility to read and follow all PTCAS and program-specific instructions.
Application Timeline - The application process will start at the end of the spring/summer semester prior to your senior year of college. Most Texas programs use the Physical Therapy Central Application Service (PTCAS), which opens in July. Your application should be submitted as close to the opening date as possible, early applications receive more attention and some programs have priority deadlines or early decision (PTCAS) deadlines.
Prior to Applying:
Take prerequisite courses and meet with your PT advisor.
Begin researching physical therapy programs.
Get involved in extracurricular activities to acquire the skills and experience to stand out as an applicant, e.g., join a student org, volunteer, work or research activities.
Prepare for and take the GRE.
Attend various health professional school workshops, graduate school fairs, etc.
Gather Letters of Recommendations
The Application Cycle:
- You should have or be waiting for the release of your GRE test score. It is a good idea to take an earlier test dates and help avoid delays.
Confirm deadline dates for individual PT programs.
Begin to fill out and submit applications for PT programs. If applicable, contact PTCAS, or individual schools directly for specific questions that are not found in their instruction manuals.
Have letters of recommendation sent to individual schools or PTCAS.
PTCAS verifies primary application & begins releasing application to schools within four weeks of receipt.
Continue to work, volunteer, etc.
Attend the Health Professions Interview Workshop with the PSA office.
PT programs begin to interview candidates.
When interviews are completed, schools inform applicants of admission status. Admissions decision processes and timelines vary between PT programs.