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New York Health Careers

Physical Therapists

What Do Physical Therapists Do?

Physical therapists (PTs) are licensed health care professionals who help people with injuries or illnesses improve their movement and manage their pain. PTs are often an important part of rehabilitation and treatment for patients with chronic conditions or injuries that limit their ability to move well or comfortably or do functional activities as well as they would like in their daily lives. PTs help patients recover from physical injuries, diseases, or disabilities and aim to relieve patients’ pain, improve their body movement, restore function, and limit impairment. PTs will assess a patient, then plan and implement treatment to improve strength, coordination, flexibility, range  of motion, and endurance. Treatment may include stretching and strengthening exercises; applying heat, cold, water, or electricity to reduce pain and inflammation; and therapeutic massage.

PTs frequently work with accident victims and individuals with a variety of conditions, such as back problems, sports injuries, arthritis, heart disease, fractures, head injuries, multiple sclerosis and cerebral palsy.

In addition, PTs work with individuals to prevent the loss of mobility before it occurs by developing fitness and wellness-oriented programs for healthier and more active lifestyles.

While most physical therapists treat a wide array of patients and conditions, some specialize in areas such as pediatrics, geriatrics, brain injury, or sports medicine. For more information, go to: http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/physical-therapists.htm.

Where Do Physical Therapists Work?

PTs work in hospitals, outpatient clinics and private offices that have specially equipped facilities. PTs also work in rehabilitation facilities, nursing homes, home health agencies and schools. A small percentage of PTs are self-employed.
A PT’s job can be physically demanding, because PTs may have to stoop, kneel, crouch, lift and stand for long periods of time. In addition, PTs may move heavy equipment and lift patients or help them turn, stand or walk.

What Do Physical Therapists Earn?

In 2017, the median annual salary for PTs in New York was $82,250; somewhat lower than the national median annual salary for PTs of $85,400. Most PTs work full time.

Supply and Demand

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that jobs for PTs will increase by 29.3% in New York between 2014 and 2024, and increase by 34% nationwide during the same time period. Job prospects may be favorable in rural areas as many PTs tend to cluster in highly populated urban and suburban areas.

The increasing older adult population in the U.S. will drive growth in the demand for physical therapy services because this age group is staying active in sports and exercise later in life than previous generations did. In addition to various sports- and exercise-related injuries, the active baby boom generation is just entering the prime age for arthritis, heart attacks, and strokes, increasing the demand for physical therapy services and rehabilitation care. Medical and technological developments will permit a greater percentage of trauma and accident victims and newborns with birth defects to survive, creating additional demand for rehabilitative care by PTs. Sports-related injuries for people of all ages are also more frequently referred to and improved by physical therapy.

For more information on projections of PTs by New York State labor regions, click here.

Educational Program Requirements

PTs are required to have a postgraduate professional degree. Physical therapy programs usually award a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree, although a small number award a Master of Physical Therapy (MPT) degree. Doctoral programs typically last three years; MPT programs require two or three years of study. Most physical therapy degree programs require a bachelor’s degree for admission, and many require specific prerequisites, such as anatomy, physiology, biology, and chemistry.

Coursework includes biology, anatomy, exercise physiology, biomechanics, pathology, and basic medical sciences. Studies will also focus on the evaluation and treatment of the heart, lungs, muscles, bones, and the nervous system. PT programs will also require behavioral science courses, such as evidence-based practice and clinical reasoning. Some of the clinically-based courses include medical screening, examination tests and measures, diagnostic process, therapeutic interventions, outcomes assessment, and practice management. In addition to classroom and laboratory instruction, students receive supervised clinical experience. Some PT’s complete a residency and obtain board certification, both of which are optional.

New York Licensure Requirements

In order to be licensed as a physical therapist in New York, an applicant must complete an accredited education program in physical therapy and pass the National Physical Therapy Examination administered by the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy.

For more information on state licensing requirements, go to: http://www.op.nysed.gov/prof/pt/.

Financial Support

The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) offers scholarships and other information for students in physical therapy education programs. Please visit their Web site at http://www.apta.org/ and see information about scholarships at http://www.apta.org/CurrentStudents/ScholarshipsAwards/

Education Programs in New York

Daemen College
4380 Main Street
Amherst, NY 14226
(800) 462-7652
D’Youville College
320 Porter Avenue
Buffalo, NY 14201
(800) 777-3921
Nazareth College
4245 East Avenue
Rochester, NY 14618
(585) 389-2900 or (585) 389-2525
University at Buffalo
State University of New York

School of Rehabilitation Science
501 Kimball Tower
3425 Main Street
Buffalo, NY 14214-3079
(716) 829-6742
Ithaca College
953 Danby Road
Ithaca, NY 14850
(607) 274-3237
Upstate Medical University
College of Health Professions

788 Irving Aveue
Syracuse, NY 13210
(315) 464-4570
Utica College
1600 Burrstone Road
Utica, NY 13502
(315) 792-3006
The Sage Colleges
School of Health Sciences
65 1st Street
Troy, NY 12180
(518) 244-2000
Dominican College
470 Western Highway
Orangeburg, NY 10962
(845) 359-7800 or (866) 4DC-INFO
Touro College
Manhattan Campus
27 W. 23 Street
New York, NY 10010
(631) 665-1600Bay Shore Campus
1700 Union Blvd.
Bay Shore, NY 11706
(631) 665-1600
New York Institute of Technology
School of Health Professions
Northern Blvd.
P.O. Box 8000
Old Westbury, NY 11568
(516) 686-1000
Stony Brook University
State University of New York

110 Nicolls Rd.
Stony Brook, NY 11794-8201
(631) 444-8356 or (631) 444-8259Southampton Campus
239 Montauk Highway
Southampton, NY 11968
(631) 444-8356 or (631) 444-8259
Columbia University
Neurological Institute
710 West 168th Street
New York, NY 10032
(212) 305-0470
College of Staten Island
The City University of New York

2800 Victory Blvd.
Staten Island, NY 10314
(718) 982-3153 or (718) 982-2000
Hunter College
425 E. 25th Street
New York, NY 10010
(212) 772-4000
Long Island University
Brooklyn Campus

School of Health Professions
1 University Plaza
Brooklyn, NY 11201
(718) 488-1063
Mercy College
School of Health and Natural Sciences
555 Broadway
Dobbs Ferry, NY 10522
(914) 674-7600
New York Medical College
40 Sunshine Cottage Road
Valhalla, NY 10595
(914) 594-4000
New York University
Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development

380 Second Ave., 4th Floor
New York, NY 10010
(212) 998-9413
SUNY Downstate Medical Center
450 Clarkson Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11203
(718) 270-7720
Clarkson University
8 Clarkson Avenue
Potsdam, NY 13699-5880
(315) 268-3786

Additional Web Links

For more information on physical therapists go to:

American Physical Therapy Association: http://www.apta.org

New York Physical Therapy Association: http://www.nypta.org

Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy: http://www.fsbpt.org

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