Do you know what a physical therapist actually does?

If you want to be a physical therapist, you'll need to earn a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree. But, what exactly do physical therapists do?

What is a Doctor of Physical Therapy?

Physical Therapists are movement experts who work with clients and patients to improve their quality of life through exercise, hands-on care and patient education.  The American Physical Therapy Association describes the role of a physical therapist like this: “They help people rehabilitate from devastating injuries, manage chronic conditions, avoid surgery and prescription drugs, and create healthy habits.” Additionally, physical therapists treat people across the life span from newborn infants to people nearing the end of their life. As previously mentioned, they help people with injuries, disabilities, and other health conditions.


Physical therapy at Concordia University Ann Arbor

Program Director Dr. Bob Frampton states that Concordia University’s physical therapy is an innovative program. “Students have the opportunity to learn curricular content from the leaders in physical therapy and then put what has been learned into practice with dedicated faculty who engage students in immersive activities,” Frampton states. He continues, “The content is delivered online in our learning management system. Students enter the classrooms prepared to engage with the faculty.”

This means students spend valuable class time applying their knowledge with faculty experts, which is a much more authentic learning experiences than a traditional classroom set-up.

Concordia University’s program emphasizes professionalism as well, making the transition from student to practitioner seamless. Professionalism is important. But, the genuine way that Concordia faculty and students care for their patients and for each other is remarkable.


The best parts about being a physical therapist

Every physical therapist loves different aspects of the job. Concordia University Wisconsin’s physical therapy program director, Dr. Bob Barnhart, is all about the problem-solving. “I like the critical thinking aspect of being a physical therapist. Working with a patient, their family, and other health care team members to develop a successful treatment plan. I also like the people I have been able to work with, both fellow health professionals as well as patients and clients.”

Blogger Tim Fraticelli, DPT, wrote about why he loves being a physical therapist. In this post, he talks about how helping a variety of diverse patients keeps the work exciting, and also connects him to his “why,” as in why he’s doing this job in the first place. Fraticelli loves being a physical therapist because every day he gets to help someone. He notes that the work of a physical therapist is active. So, adding that aspect to his desire to help people for a living brings him a lot of satisfaction when it comes to his work.


Feeling Inspired?

If you’re interested in learning more about becoming a physical therapist, visit us here.

— Vanessa Lane is the Content Marketing Lead at Concordia University and can be reached at When she's not at work, she can be found playing with her kids or watching NBA basketball with her husband.

If this story has inspired you, why not explore how you can help further Concordia's mission through giving.