Graduate certificate programs that concentrate on physical therapy can be designed for persons with varying work experience in the area. These programs may focus on orthopedic or musculoskeletal areas as well as particular patient groups, such as women or older adults. When it comes to graduate certificate programs dealing with physical therapy, they may have a few courses in common, and these will be detailed in the next section of this article.
Common Courses in Graduate Certificate Programs in Physical Therapy
Graduate certificate programs in physical therapy can have between 12 to 18 credit hours of course materials that students may be able to complete in as little as a year. For some programs, students can be enrolled part time or take a few courses online.
Courses on the Spine
Courses that focus on the spine may introduce students to the anatomy of the spine. Additional topics that might be covered include assessments, imaging, and treatment strategies for spinal issues. In some courses, students may have laboratory practice sessions in addition to lectures.
Courses on the Extremities
Courses of this nature can deal with the upper or lower extremities of the human body. Students may learn about the anatomy of extremities as well as the biomechanics of the shoulder, hip, knee and other joints. Other course topics can include medical screening and common conditions that can affect the body's extremities.
These courses can introduce students to the muscle tissues and nerves that constitute the neuromuscular system. In some programs, students may learn specifically about neuromuscular applications for older adults who have suffered a stroke. A few of the topics that may be discussed are motor control, motor learning and clinical practice research.
Courses that focus on evidence-based practice are generally designed to teach students how to make their clinical decisions based on the evidence they've been presented with. Students learn how to find and appraise healthcare literature that can be used in developing interventions as well as diagnoses and prognoses. The use of literature to reduce health care costs could also be discussed.
Pelvic Floor Courses
When it comes to this topic, courses may focus specifically on pelvic floor dysfunction or be incorporated into the general discussion of physical therapy techniques for female patients. Students may learn how to carry out pelvic examinations. They may also learn about the treatment options for pelvic floor issues, the use of specialized tests and types of non-internal evaluations.
General Admission Requirements for Graduate Certificate Programs in Physical Therapy
Prospective students who are interested in being admitted to graduate certificate programs in physical therapy must have an entry-level graduate degree in physical therapy (such as a Doctor of Physical Therapy) from an accredited college or university. Some programs may require a minimum GPA of 3.0 and recommend that applicants have at least two years of experience as a physical therapist. Most programs also require that applicants have a valid state license as a physical therapist or at least be eligible for one. When applying for admission, prospective students may also need to submit school transcripts, a current resume, letters of recommendation and a personal essay.
Physical therapists with varying levels of experience may be able to access 12- to 17-credit-hour graduate certificate programs in physical therapy. These programs can be available on a part-time basis or in a blended format that includes topics related to the spine, extremities and evidence-based practice.