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To become a physical therapist, you typically need to complete several steps, including education, clinical training, and licensure. Here's a general outline of the steps to become a physical therapist:

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1. **Earn a bachelor's degree**: Most physical therapy programs require applicants to have a bachelor's degree. While there is no specific major required, most physical therapy programs prefer applicants to have a strong background in science and healthcare-related coursework. Common undergraduate majors include biology, kinesiology, exercise science, or pre-physical therapy.

2. **Complete prerequisite coursework**: Before applying to physical therapy programs, you will need to complete prerequisite coursework in areas such as anatomy, physiology, biology, chemistry, physics, and psychology. The specific prerequisite coursework requirements vary by program, so be sure to check the requirements of the programs you are interested in applying to.

3. **Gain observation or volunteer experience**: Many physical therapy programs require applicants to have observation or volunteer experience in a physical therapy setting. This experience provides valuable insight into the profession and demonstrates your commitment to pursuing a career in physical therapy.

4. **Attend a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program**: Complete an accredited Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program. DPT programs typically take about three years to complete and include classroom instruction, laboratory work, and clinical rotations in various physical therapy settings.

5. **Complete clinical rotations**: During DPT program, you will complete clinical rotations in various physical therapy settings, such as hospitals, outpatient clinics, rehabilitation centers, and skilled nursing facilities. These clinical rotations provide hands-on experience working with patients under the supervision of licensed physical therapists.

6. **Pass the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE)**: After completing a DPT program, you must pass the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) to become licensed to practice as a physical therapist. The NPTE is a comprehensive exam that assesses your knowledge and skills in physical therapy.

7. **Obtain state licensure**: In addition to passing the NPTE exam, you must obtain licensure from the state in which you plan to practice as a physical therapist. Licensing requirements vary by state but typically include passing the NPTE exam, completing an application, and paying a fee.

8. **Maintain licensure and continuing education**: To maintain your licensure as a physical therapist, you must complete continuing education requirements and renew your license periodically. Continuing education ensures that physical therapists stay current with advancements in the field and maintain their competency to practice.

It's essential to research physical therapy programs and their admission requirements carefully, as they can vary significantly from one program to another. Additionally, be prepared for a rigorous and challenging educational journey as you work towards becoming a physical therapist.
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