What is Physical Therapy?
Physical Therapists (PTs) are licensed health care professionals who diagnose and oversee the management of patients of all ages in order to improve their physical and functional abilities. They help individuals maintain optimal health and fitness, and prevent the onset or progression of impairments, functional limitations, and disabilities related to disease, disorders, and other conditions.
Physical therapists practice in a wide variety of settings:
- Private practices
- Acute care hospitals
- Hospital inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation centers
- Skilled nursing facilities
- Sub-acute facilities
- Patients' homes
- Schools, universities, and research settings
- Emergency rooms
- Fitness and sports training centers
- Office and industrial workplaces
In order to practice as a "Physical Therapist," one must graduate from an accredited physical therapy program, pass the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE), and be licensed in his/her given state(s).
Physical therapists often pursue professional development opportunities, including post-professional degrees (e.g., PhD, DSc, MPH). They can complete clinical residencies in many specialties, including Orthopaedic, Neurologic, Pediatric, Sports, Geriatric, Cardiovascular and Pulmonary, Clinical Electrophysiologic and Women's Health.
American Physical Therapy Association (APTA)
UW-Madison Physical Therapy Program
The UW-Madison Physical Therapy Program was founded in 1926 and, in 1929, became one of the first three physical therapy curricula in the United States to receive accreditation from the American Physical Therapy Association.
The PT Program is now a 3 year (includes summers) free-standing program in the Department of Orthopedics and Rehabilitation in the School of Medicine and Public Health, and offers an entry-level professional Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree.
The Doctor of Physical Therapy Program capitalizes on its world class location:
The DPT Program works with numerous clinics in Madison for off-site labs and to bring clinicians and patients into the Program's facilities. In addition to clinics, students travel to schools, fitness clubs, the Waisman Center for children with disabilities, and Central Wisconsin Center, a residential facility for people with developmental disabilities. Informal shadowing experiences take place with faculty at UW Hospital and Clinics, the Veteran's Administration Hospital, University Health Services, and the UW Athletic Training Room.
is a major research institution with exemplary library resources and campus support services. Faculty members collaborate with other departments, and other schools such as the College of Engineering
, and students can study under the direction of research mentors; participate in interdisciplinary research projects; and attend research seminars and clinical conferences.
School of Medicine and Public Health
The DPT Program's location in the School of Medicine and Public Health enables cooperative teaching arrangements and interdisciplinary programming with students from numerous health care professional programs. SMPH also gives students access to facilities such as Ebling Library, the Critical Care Simulation classroom, and the Clinical Teaching Assessment Center for standardized patients.
The clinical faculty with whom we work are top-notch!
Faculty members are cohesive, collaborative, and student-focused. Faculty
are professionally involved locally, nationally, and internationally, and
facilitate student involvement at professional conferences, Student Conclaves,
and State Legislative Days.
We have many areas of expertise. Faculty members hold Clinical Specialist certifications in Geriatrics, Pediatrics, Neurology, Orthopedics, and Sports. Other areas of expertise are biomechanics, business administration, clinical medicine, education, ethics, manual therapy, muscle physiology, occupational medicine, oncology, public health, Tai Chi, vestibular rehabilitation, and women's health.
We are involved in the campus community. Various faculty members have joint appointments in Biomedical and Industrial Systems Engineering, work with UW Athletics and Student Health Services, and direct the UW/Meriter Hospital Orthopedic Physical Therapy Residency Program.
The UW-Madison DPT Program consistently attracts high-quality students who score 100% on the National Physical Therapy Examination. Our students are described by employers as professional, well-rounded, empathetic, patient advocates, professionally involved, able to accept feedback, lifelong learners and critical thinkers.
Our students participate in many outreach and fundraising activities, ranging from Program-specific endeavors to interdisciplinary efforts with medical students and students from other disciplines.
One of the UW-Madison Doctor of Physical Therapy Program's greatest strengths is its extensive and loyal alumni base.