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What Is The Difference Between A DPT & MPT?

DPT stands for Doctor of Physical Therapy and MPT stands for Masters of Physical Therapy. These two acronyms are used in the field of physical therapy to determine the levels of physical therapy certification. It grants more authority for a practitioner to perform several functions that are often reserved for physicians.

Having the title ‘Doctor’ or ‘Master’ allows patients and peers to recognize and appreciate the time and energy it took a person to complete this kind of program.

This article discusses the differences between a DPT and MPT so that you can understand what each of them means and the qualifications needed to achieve these titles.

What Do MPT and DPT Mean?

Middle age woman with knee injury lying on physiotherapy

A Master of Physical Therapy (MPT) is the second-highest academic degrees pursued by physical therapists in the United States. The MPT program takes 2 years to complete along with 15 weeks of clinical experience to be eligible for the PT license examination. A Doctorate of Physical Therapy (DPT) is a transitional degree that is pursued by individuals who already hold a professional MPT degree. It takes 3 years to hold a DPT degree, which offers better preparation to students when entering the workforce. Another major difference between the two degrees is that MPT programs focus primarily on the realms of medicine explored in physical therapy while DPT programs cover a wider perspective of the same.

A typical DPT program includes but is not limited to evaluation and analysis of physical health systems, imaging, pharmacology, healthcare management, pathology, and preventive medicine. In brief terms, individuals who have pursued a DPT program are likely to be more prepared to deal with complex issues in physical therapy than an individual with an MPT degree. After completing a DPT program, you can continue practicing physical therapy in a Residency (medicine) before proceeding with fellowships. The duration for training in credentialed residencies can take 9 to 36 months while credentialed fellowships take 6 to 36 months.

Is It Possible To Continue Practicing Without A DPT Certification?

You can continue practicing as a physical therapist if you already have an MPT or a different level of certification such as a Bachelor of physical therapy. However, students who have not graduated are required to have a DPT certification to pursue a profession in the field. According to the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), those who have a Bachelor’s of physical therapy (BPT) or Master’s of physical therapy are encouraged to pursue a DPT program. Not only does this grant you a higher level of authority but may also become mandatory for practicing physical therapists in the future.

Although you may already have an idea of what is included in a post-professional DPT program, it is also possible that you have not learned and applied all content associated with what has been added to professional PT programs in the past 5 to 10 years. Pursuing a DPT program sets you a notch higher than people who already have an MPT degree, as you are more knowledgeable about other concepts that were not included before.

How Do I Qualify For A DPT Program?

Becoming a physical therapist is a healthcare profession that is in high demand in the United States. This rate may continue to increase in the coming years as predicted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, the certifications to become a licensed physical therapist is more intensive than it used to be. With this trend, different institutions may put a lot of emphasis on who qualifies to pursue these programs.

It is important to set yourself apart from other applicants if you want to get into a DPT program. Besides good grades, you need to have a well-rounded application that depicts you as a competent healthcare provider to-be. It is also crucial to highlight your clinical experience and include stellar references to help with your chances. As long as you have everything readily available, you can never hurt your chances of getting into a DPT program and achieving your dream of becoming a professional physical therapist.

Once you have completed a DPT program, patients and health care professionals will recognize you as a physical therapist with direct access to the diagnosis, intervention, and prevention of functional limitations, impairments, and disabilities related to movement, function, and overall health of an individual. Even if you already have an MPT, it is still a good idea to pursue a DPT program as it gives you more experience by keeping you updated with current practices in physical therapy.