Frequently Asked Questions

Welcome to the FAQ page for pre-physical therapy and other allied health professions such as occupational therapy and physician assistant. If your question isn't answered here, please contact an advisor who can answer your question.

What major should I pursue if I am planning on applying to an allied health professional program?

Students can enter many of the allied health professions (PT, OT, PA, Nursing) from most any major. Some majors are more practical since they contain many or all of the prerequisites within the major. To gain entry in an allied health program, the basic requirements are the undergraduate degree, completion of a specific set of prerequisites for entry into the program and volunteer experience working with professionals in the field. Examples of majors that cover some or all of the prerequisites include: Bio-Anthropology, Biology, Community Health, and Kinesiology/Pre-Physical Therapy, and Kinesiology/Pre-Health Care Professions.

What is the difference between a physical therapist, physical therapy assistant, occupational therapist, and a physician assistant?
What do they do?
Where do they practice?
Educational requirements.
Physical Therapy

(source: APTA)

Evaluate and treat people with health problems resulting from injury and disease. Assess joint motion, muscle strength and endurance, function of heart and lungs, and performance of activites required in daily living. Hospitals, private offices, community health centers, industrial health centers, sports facilities, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes, home health agencies, schools, colleges and universities. D.P.T. from accredited education program (3 years).
Occupational Therapy

(source: AOTA)

Assist individuals to regain function and independence in every day activities including areas of physical dysfunction, sensory integration, pain management, developmental disabilites, and worksite adaptations. Traditional health care settings, skilled nursing facilities, schools, holistic health, ergonomics, disability accomadations, geriatrics. Masters degree (2 years).
Physical Therapy Assistant

(source: Bureau of Labor Statistics)

Physical therapist assistants assist physical therapists in providing care to patients. Under the direction and supervision of physical therapists, they provide exercise, instruction; therapeutic methods like electrical stimulation, mechanical traction, and ultrasound; massage; and gait and balance training. Physical therapist assistants record the patient's responses to treatment and report the outcome of each treatment to the physical therapist. About 72 percent of jobs are in offices of other health practitioners and in hospitals. Others are in nursing care facilities, home healthcare services, and outpatient care centers. In most States, physical therapist assistants are required by law to hold an associate degree, from an accredited postsecondary physical therapy assistant program, which usually last 2 years.


Page Updated 11.13.2017