Career Research Project

Rachael Himmelman Physical Therapist

Necessary Job Skills

  • Assess and review all systems of the body as needed to determine the need for physical therapy, and the scope of therapy needed as well as the patient's limitations.
  • Perform tests to characterize and quantify range of motion, sensory integrity (sharp/dull, hot/cold, pressure, vibration, etc), neuromotor skills, and reflexes.
  • Clinical reasoning and decision-making to determine a diagnosis (what's wrong with the patient) and prognosis (will the patient improve, how much, and when)
  • Use goal-setting skills to set a plan of care in action
  • First-Aid, CPR, safety, in case of emergency
  • Use of orthotics, prosthetics, walkers, wheelchairs, and other supportive devices
  • Manual therapy, tissue massage, traction, and manipulation
  • Communication skills for patient/family education, consultations with other health professionals
  • Practice Management skills such as billing & coding for proper reimbursement, documentation of medical records, supervising staff such as physical therapy assistants, and quality improvement
  • Professional skills and values such as accountability, integrity, compassion, responsibility

Education Requirements

The length of professional DPT programs is typically 3 years. Primary content areas in the curriculum may include, but are not limited to, biology/anatomy, cellular histology, physiology, exercise physiology, biomechanics, kinesiology, neuroscience, pharmacology, pathology, behavioral sciences, communication, ethics/values, management sciences, finance, sociology, clinical reasoning, evidence-based practice, cardiovascular and pulmonary, endocrine and metabolic, and musculoskeletal. Eighty percent (80%) of the DPT curriculum comprises classroom (didactic) and lab study and the remaining 20 percent (20%) is dedicated to clinical education. PT students spend on average 27.5 weeks in their final clinical experience.

  • Most physical therapist education programs require applicants to earn a bachelor's degree prior to admission into the professional DPT/MPT program. Other programs offer a 3+3 curricular format in which 3 years of specific pre-professional (undergraduate/pre-PT) courses must be taken before the student can advance into a 3-year professional PT program.
  • A few programs recruit all or a portion of students directly from high school into a guaranteed admissions program. High school students accepted into these programs are can automatically advance into the professional phase of the PT program pending the completion of specific undergraduate courses and any other stated contingencies (eg, minimum GPA).
  • Professional (entry-level) physical therapist education programs currently are offered at 2 degree levels:
    • Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) Degree
    • Master of Physical Therapy (MPT) or Master of Science in Physical Therapy (MSPT) Degree
    All PT education programs have transitioned to the DPT degree, except one. Both degrees currently prepare students to be eligible for the PT license examination in all 50 states. To maintain or be granted accreditation, programs will be required to award the DPT degree by 2015 and will have until 2017 to come into compliance with this decision. To practice as a physical therapist in the US, you must earn a PT degree from a CAPTE-accredited physical therapist education program and pass a state licensure exam.

Western Illinois University

Western Illinois University's residential campus is located in Macomb, Illinois. Our non-residential, metropolitan campus is located in the Quad cities, Moline,IL. From offering a bachelor's degree in forensic chemistry to housing one of the largest law enforcement programs of its kind in the nation to providing the first Bachelor of Fine Arts in Musical Theature program at an Illinois public institution. Tuition and fees are assessed per-credit-hour and billed at the beginning of each semester.There are different tuition plans for when you plan on applying. From move-in to graduation, the residence halls at Western provide students a place to create their own college experience by getting involved on campus.

  • 90% of WIU students come from Illinois
  • Full-time faculty teach 93.5% of classes
  • The student to faculty ratio is 15:1

Words to Live By:

"You cant start the next chapter of your life if you keep re-reading the last one."

I'm a person who holds on to everything and doesn't let go very easily. So my best friend showed me this quote to help me move on. The best is yet to come. These words have taught me how to push through when things get hard and when to let go of something when it no longer makes you happy. Letting go of something is knowing when you don't serve  purpose to helping you grow. I will always remember and live this quote.  

My Role Model

My role model is my big sister, Bailie. My sister is my role model because she has had many rough experiences in her life that she has to overcome and she stays strong. She doesn't let it effect her mood and she stays happy through all of it. She gives me very helpful advice when I ask for it and even when I don't. She is the person I go to when I need somebody. I could not live without my sister, she is my everything.

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