Are Physical Therapists Doctors? Facts You Need To Know

Most times, people mistake a physical therapist for a medical doctor. They ask, “Are physical therapists not doctors?” It shouldn’t be so. Hence, we will seek to clarify the difference to help you make better choices. This time, you will know whether you need a therapist or a doctor.

According to Sochi, physical therapy has been the greatest treatment for physical pain. Indeed, it has worked more wonders than painkillers. Additionally, it has improved human daily function and also mobility.

The first response most people have when they feel pain is to go see a Medical Doctor. Funnily enough, most of them don’t even consider a chiropractor, probably because they’re ignorant of that office. Well, we will help you differentiate between them.

The table below clearly represents all you’ll learn in the course of this article.

What is Physical Therapy?

Physical therapy deals with any disability or injury that produces limitations on a person’s abilities to move and perform functional activities in their daily lives.

This therapy anchors on the individual’s history and physical examination to arrive at a diagnosis. Hence, the diagnosis helps them create a management plan.

Additionally, they can incorporate the results of laboratory and imaging studies like X-rays, CT-scan, or MRI findings.

The management of physical therapy commonly involves certain activities. The activities include prescription of or assistance with chosen exercises, manual therapy, and manipulation.

The whole idea of physical therapy is to help individuals prevent mobility loss before it occurs. They do this by developing fitness and wellness-oriented programs for healthier and more active lifestyles.

Physical therapy is a professional career that has many branches. They include; musculoskeletal, orthopedics, cardiopulmonary, neurology, endocrinology, wound dressing, and electromyography.

Are physical therapists doctors? Let’s find out more.

What Do Physical Therapists Do?

Physical therapists develop programs that address the physical fitness of their patients. These programs, which most times involve exercises, aim to bring the person to the point of physical strength and balance.

They perform some of their functions through the use of mechanical devices. Some of these include; traction, education, and electrophysical modalities, which include heat, cold, electricity, sound waves, radiation, assistive devices, prostheses, orthoses, and other interventions.

Indeed, individuals in sports will be eternally grateful to physical therapists for the role they play.

Where Do Physical Therapists Work?

Physical therapists practice in many settings, such as private-owned physical therapy clinics, outpatient clinics or offices, health and wellness clinics, rehabilitation hospitals facilities, etc., The list is endless

Additionally, Physical therapists also practice in non-patient care roles such as health policy, health insurance, health care administration, and health care executives.

Physical therapists are involved in the medical-legal field serving as experts, performing peer review, and independent medical examinations.

As you can see, physical therapists play a strong role in the general health sector. So when someone asks, “are physical therapists doctors?”, you can give them a good answer.

How can I become a Physical Therapist?

Becoming a physical therapist might not be as difficult as becoming a Doctor. So the question “Are physical therapists Doctors?” has a little bit of validity due to their similarity.

However, the following steps reveal how anyone can become a physical therapist. These steps include;

Before you can enroll in a doctoral degree program for physical therapy, you must meet certain prerequisites. One of them usually involves completing a bachelor’s degree program with a heavy dose of the following courses:

  • Anatomy
  • Physiology
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Physics

We advise you to counsel with the doctoral degree program you plan to enroll in for specific prerequisite requirements.

Step 2: Complete a Doctor of Physical Therapy Degree Program

In order to work as a physical therapist, you have to complete a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree program. As of 2014, 228 physical therapy programs were accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE), most of which lasted three years.

Of course, it is usually necessary to apply for DPT programs through the Physical Therapist Centralized Application Service (PTCAS). As a student in DPT programs, you must complete a clinical internship in an area such as acute or orthopedic care with supervised experience.

Hence, these DPT programs involve coursework in the following subjects:

  • Applied Physical Therapy
  • Functional Anatomy
  • Complex Conditions
  • Life Span Development
  • Pharmacotherapy

Step 3: Meet Your State Licensing Requirements

All states require PTs to become licensed. Licensing requirements are set by individual states, but include passing the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE), which is administered by the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy (FSBPT).

The NPTE is a computerized, multiple-choice exam. Applicants can take up the exam three times in a twelve-month period. The Practice Exam and Assessment Tool (PEAT), also developed by the FSBPT, gives applicants practice time, taking the test using an exam that resembles the NPTE.

Other licensing requirements may include a law exam and a criminal background check. Most renewal programs require the completion of continuing education credits. Make sure to check with your state board for specific licensing requirements.

Step 4: Complete a Residency (Optional)

After earning a DPT degree, you can as well apply to a clinical residency program for additional training and experience in specialty areas of care. The programs typically last one year. You can then specialize further by completing a fellowship in an advanced clinical area.

Step 5: Obtain Board Certification (Optional)

After working in the field, physical therapists may apply to become board-certified specialists in any clinical specialty area.

In order to become board-certified, physical therapists must complete at least 2,000 hours of clinical work or an APTA-accredited residency program in the specialty area, and pass an exam.

Must Read: Physical therapy scholarships – World Scholarship Forum

What is Medicine?

Medicine is the science and practice of establishing the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disease. Medicine involves a variety of healthcare practices created to restore and maintain health through the treatment and prevention of illness.

Currently, contemporary medicine applies biomedical sciences, biomedical research, genetics, and medical technology to diagnose, treat, and prevent injury and disease. Hence, this is done through pharmaceuticals, surgery, and therapies.

Medicine has existed over a long period, during which it was an art (an area of skill and knowledge) frequently having connections to the religious and philosophical beliefs of local culture.

Today, since the introduction of modern science, most medicine has become a combination of art and science (both basic and applied, under the umbrella of medical science).

What Do Medical Doctors Do?

Every Medical Doctor is primarily concerned with the restoration of their patient’s health to an optimum working condition.

Doctors are able to execute these responsibilities by running diagnostic tests, creating treatment plans, prescribing medication, and providing advice to patients.

Every Medical Doctor is trained for years before they are given a license to practice. Even during the time of the “COVID-19” pandemic, Doctors and other health workers have proved indispensable.

Where do Medical Doctors work?

Medical Doctors work in hospitals, clinics, surgical centers, community health centers, or private or group physicians’ offices.

Most times, they practice in their personal spaces – although you can’t totally trust those doctors. So, if you want to pay them a visit, the Hospital is your best bet.

The demand for more Doctors is on the rise due to an aging population and serious advancements in science and technology. So, if you choose to become a medical doctor, there’s a process you should follow.

How can I become a Medical Doctor?

Becoming a Medical Doctor is no big deal. In fact, you will see the slight differences and why physical therapists are not doctors.

The steps involved in becoming a Medical Doctor include the following;

Step 1: Get a Bachelor’s Degree

Most medical school applicants complete a bachelor’s degree program before they apply to medical school.

As a student, you can choose a variety of majors for undergraduate study. However, students should be sure that their course load includes a significant amount of scientific studies.

Students are also expected to complete undergraduate work in the social sciences, English, and mathematics.

Step 2: Graduate From Medical School

Medical school takes at least four years to complete. Sometimes, it takes more. In the first two years, students get to take foundational coursework in the practice of medicine, bodily systems, and diseases.

During the last two years of medical school, students pass through various hospital specialty departments where they build experience in patient care under faculty supervision.

Finally, as a student, you must also pass a series of examinations in your final year, which may include the Medical Licensing Examination.

Step 3: Complete a Residency

As a graduate, you can choose a residency program based on your career interests. These programs usually last from three to eight years and cover general medical principles and specific medical specialties.

As a resident, you perform a number of extensive duties, such as conducting physical exams, taking patient histories, attending conferences, and interpreting lab information.

Step 4: Obtain Licensure

Before fully practicing medicine, all doctors must obtain a license. To qualify for licensure, you must earn a degree from an accredited medical school.

You are also required to complete a residency program and pass the Medical Licensing Examination – this is dependent on your country’s own.

Step 5: Earn Certification in a Speciality Area

Earning a specialty certification is not totally necessary, but it may increase employment opportunities. Doctors who wish to keep their certification must continue their education before testing for certification renewal.

In summary, if you want to be a medical doctor, you must first get a bachelor’s degree, taking as many science classes as possible. Then you must complete medical school, get a medical license, and maybe obtain certification in a specialty area.

Must Read: 27 Scholarship for Medical Students from Developing …

Physical Therapists vs. Doctors?

As much as Physical therapists are not Doctors, they have a lot of similar practices. Well, it’s expected because both of them are health practitioners.

Physical therapists encourage and create physical and mental exercises for their patients. These exercises help restore their physical and mental health.

On the other hand, Doctors diagnose the patients and offer them chemical treatment – usually drugs. Funnily enough, Doctors still refer patients to physical therapists.

Indeed, we can agree that both of them are very important and play vital roles. Imagine what athletes and sportsmen would go through without a physical therapist. Then imagine what the world would be like without a medical doctor. Horrendous!.


Are Physical Therapists also called Doctors?

Most times, people refer to physical therapists as Doctors, but they’re not Doctors.

What is DPT?

DPT is a clinical doctorate degree. It is the degree required for you to complete the program and practice as a physical therapist.

How long does the physical therapy program take?

A doctor of Physical therapy program usually takes three to four years to complete.

Are Physical Therapists also Doctors?

Physical therapists are called Doctors because they perform certain medical functions such as administration, diagnosis etc.

Is DPT a school for Doctors?

No, a DPT is a doctorate of physical therapy.

Is Physical Therapy school difficult to get into?

No. Physical therapy school is not difficult to get into.


Indeed, you can see that the value these two professionals present are indispensable. Hence, you can’t displace one for another.

However, if you’re still asking, “Are physical therapists Doctors?”, your confusion must have been cleared up.

So, if you want to choose a path between these two professions, your choice must be guided by your pursuit and your desire to be beneficial to people.


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