Pre-health: Physical Therapy

School ofSciences

Pre-health: Physical Therapy

I.  An overview of the profession

Physical therapy (also known as physiotherapy) involves using physical methods (e.g., manipulation, traction, exercise, massage, hot/cold therapy, etc.) to assess, diagnose and treat injury, disability or disease.
Physical therapy professionals work closely with patients of all ages, to help them recover from and/or manage a wide variety of physical challenges.
Physical therapists (PTs) provide services that help restore function, improve mobility, relieve pain, and prevent or limit permanent physical disabilities of patients with injuries or disease. PTs work closely with patients and clients to restore, maintain, and promote their overall fitness and wellness for healthier and more active lifestyles. Patients may include accident victims and individuals with disabling conditions such as low back pain, fractures, head injuries, arthritis, heart disease, and cerebral palsy.
PTs take the patient’s/client’s history and conduct a systems review, and perform tests and measures such as strength, range of motion, balance and coordination, posture, muscle performance, respiration, and motor function, to identify potential and existing problems. Based on the examination and the physical therapist’s evaluative judgment, PTs determine a patient diagnosis, prognosis, and plan of care that describes evidence-based treatment strategies and the anticipated functional outcomes. Finally, as a part of the plan of care, PTs determine the patient's ability to be independent and reintegrate into the community or workplace after injury or illness.
To learn more about this career, watch the You Can Be Me video on the American Physical Therapy Association website.
For more information on pursuing a career in this field, see the American Physical Therapy Association website.
Working Conditions
Physical Therapists (PTs) practice in a variety of settings including hospitals, outpatient clinics, private offices, home health agencies, schools, sports and fitness facilities, work settings, and skilled nursing facilities. Most full-time PTs work a 40-hour week, which may include some evenings and weekends.
This position can be physically demanding, because PTs often have to stoop, kneel, crouch, lift, and stand for long periods. In addition, physical therapists move heavy equipment and lift patients or help them turn, stand, or walk.

II.  Prerequisites

The following is a listing of the prerequisites for a DPT Degree, as listed for the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, which is similar to most other DPT programs:

What They Want  # Hours     What We Call It 
 General Biology*    BIOL 111 Lec & Lab
   BIOL 112 Lec & Lab
 General Chemistry*    CHEM 113 Lec & Lab
   CHEM 114 Lec & Lab
 General Physics*     PHYS 201 Lec & Lab
   PHYS 202 Lec & Lab
 English Composition    ENG 111
   ENG 112 
 Human Anatomy &
   BIOL 217 Lec & Lab
   BIOL 218 Lec & Lab 
 (Any one of those listed)
  • MATH 117
  • MATH 131
  • MATH 105
 Computer Sciences(2)    MIS 153
 Statistics    Must include descriptive, t-test, Chi-square,
 Psychology(4)    PSYC 105 & PSYC 218
Sciences(5) (Four courses with any
of the indicated prefixes)
  •  PSYC(hology)
  • SOC(iology)
  • POLS (Political Science)
  • Foreign language, fine or performing arts, communication arts
 Electives 30      Free to choose

*Must include laboratory experiences

(1):  Students must complete coursework that fulfills physics prerequisite.

(2):  If coursework has not been taken, must demonstrate computer literacy in computer technology.

(3):  Course should cover nonparametric and parametric statistics, including analysis of covariance and multivariate analysis of variance. Use of statistical techniques with data sets, interpretation of statistical results and computer interaction in data analysis strongly recommended. Biomedical statistics, education statistics, business statistics, psychology statistics as well as statistics courses in the math department are acceptable.

(4):  Must include General Psychology I and II or General Psychology I and Human Growth and Development.

(5): Recommended courses to complete humanities/social science courses are: (child, adolescent or abnormal) psychology, personality development, psychology of adjustment, sociology, anthropology, economics, counseling, human relations, political science, humanities, art history, philosophy or logic, English literature, history, foreign language, fine arts, religion

III.  Acceptance/Admissions Statistics for the University of Tennessee Health Science Doctorate in Physical Therapy Program

  • Graduation Rates: Our department has achieved graduation rates of 98.3%, 93.6% and 98.2% for the last three graduating classes (2012, 2013, 2014).
  • Licensure examination pass rates: UTHSC DPT graduates have achieved a 96.5%, 96.6% and 98.2% pass rate on the National Physical Therapist Examination for the last three years (2012, 2013, 2014). 
  • Employment rate: 100% of graduates, for the classes of 2012, 2013, and 2014, were employed as PTs within six months of passing the licensure exam.

IV.  The Graduate Record Exam (GRE)

Test Content and Structure
The GRE® revised General Test features question types that closely reflect the kind of thinking you’ll do — and the skills you need to succeed — in today's demanding graduate and business school programs. The test-taker friendly design lets you skip questions within a section, go back and change answers and have the flexibility to choose which questions within a section you want to answer first. Get a look at the structure of the computer-delivered or paper-delivered GRE revised General Test.
The GRE revised General Test measures your verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, critical thinking and analytical writing skills — skills that have been developed over a long period of time and are not related to a specific field of study but are important for all. Here's a look at content covered in the three test sections — Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning and Analytical Writing.
Verbal Reasoning
The Verbal Reasoning section measures your ability to:
• analyze and draw conclusions from discourse; reason from incomplete data; identify author's assumptions and/or perspective; understand multiple levels of meaning, such as literal, figurative and author's intent
• select important points; distinguish major from minor or relevant points; summarize text; understand the structure of a text
• understand the meanings of words, sentences and entire texts; understand relationships among words and among concepts
The Verbal Reasoning section measures your ability to understand what you read and how you apply your reasoning skills.
Get a quick view of the Verbal Reasoning Question types.
Take a closer look at the Verbal Reasoning section, including sample questions with rationales, tips and more.
Quantitative Reasoning
The Quantitative Reasoning section measures your ability to:
• understand quantitative information
• interpret and analyze quantitative information
• solve problems using mathematical models
• apply basic mathematical skills and elementary mathematical concepts of arithmetic, algebra, geometry and data interpretation
• includes real-life scenarios
The Quantitative Reasoning section includes an on-screen calculator. If you are taking the paper-delivered test, a calculator will be provided at the test center.
Get a quick view of the Quantitative Reasoning Question types.
Take a closer look at the Quantitative Reasoning section, including sample questions with rationales, tips and more.
Analytical Writing
The Analytical Writing section measures your ability to:
• articulate complex ideas clearly and effectively
• support ideas with relevant reasons and examples
• examine claims and accompanying evidence
• sustain a well-focused, coherent discussion
• control the elements of standard written English
The Analytical Writing section requires you to provide focused responses based on the tasks presented, so you can accurately demonstrate your skill in directly responding to a task.
Get a quick view of the Analytical Writing Question types.
Take a closer look at the Analytical Writing section, including sample questions with rationales, tips and more.
Modified Versions of Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning Questions
The test you take may include questions that are modified versions of published questions or of questions you have already seen on the test. Some modifications are substantial; others are less apparent.
Even if a question appears to be similar to a question you have already seen, it may in fact be different and have a different answer. Pay careful attention to the wording of each question.

V.  Contact information regarding careers in Physical Therapy

American Physical Therapy Association  --

Contact information at CBU:
Dr. Stan Eisen, Director of Pre-Professional Health Programs
phone:  901-321-3447