Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT)
A Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) or Doctor of Physiotherapy (DPhysio) degree is a post-baccalaureate 3-4 year degree which may be conferred upon successful completion of a professional doctoral program.
A Transitional Doctor of Physical Therapy Degree is also offered for those who already hold a professional Master of Physical Therapy (MPT) degree.
Both degrees currently prepare students to be eligible for the PT license examination in all 50 states. The Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE) will require all programs to offer the DPT degree effective December 31, 2015. After completing a DPT program the doctor of physical therapy may continue training in a residency and then fellowship. Credentialed residencies are between 9 and 36 months while credentialed fellowships are between 6 and 36 months.
In 2000 the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) passed its Vision 2020 statement, which states (in part):
- "By 2020, physical therapy will be provided by physical therapists who are doctors of physical therapy, recognized by consumers and other health care professionals as the practitioners of choice to whom consumers have direct access for the diagnosis of, interventions for, and prevention of impairments, functional limitations, and disabilities related to movement, function, and health."
As this statement highlights, the DPT program is an integral part of the APTA's continued advocacy for legislation granting consumers (i.e. patients and clients) direct access to physical therapists, rather than requiring physician referral.