I am a Doctor of Physical Therapy…

mike-twohy-my-physical-therapist-says-this-is-the-worst-possible-position-you-can-li-new-yorker-cartoonBefore we get started, take a second to watch this clip on “cutting edge physical therapy techniques” during a Dr. Oz Show (Dr Oz Cutting Edge Physical Therapy).   Kind of surprised they didn’t have the electrode shock device that builds 6-pack abs while sitting on the couch, or the vibrating belt machine that giggles away your fat. My initial reaction, eye roll.  My secondary reaction, concern.  Third, frustration.  Fourth, responsibility.  Let me explain this rollercoaster of emotion in a bit more detail…

The “eye roll” – Ultrasound, Tiger Balm and a Bumpy Ball are cutting edge therapy techniques?  Kind of like representing an accountant with a multiplication table, an abacus and a quill pen.

The “concern” – Do people really think this is what physical therapy provides?  Or more concerning, is this the treatment people ARE receiving? If you are, I’ll be the first to say you need to find a new PT.

The “frustration” – Without getting into my true feelings about Dr. Oz, I’ll attempt to be succinct.  Dr. Oz has enough difficulty properly portraying physician practice and inferring physical therapy is passive modality-based treatment is erroneous, inaccurate and negligent.  Although I wish I could just take Raspberry Ketones, put on Tiger Balm and lay on my Bumpy Ball for a healthy, fit, pain-free life.

The “responsibility” – Physical Therapy has been historically poor at educating the general public on our expertise and scope of practice and all frustration aside, I need to focus on what I can do as a professional and what we can do as a profession to improve this.  Ultimately, we can not be overly frustrated with these poor stereotypes if we do nothing to reverse them.

So, let’s start with the basics.  Here are a few things I “am” as a Physical Therapist.

I am a Doctor – (4 year Bachelors degree) + (3 year Doctoral degree) = Doctor of Physical Therapy.  Here’s a crazy thought, from kindergarten to doctoral graduation I have spent 22 years of my 29 year life in school, ~76%.

I am a musculoskeletal expert – A comprehensive study of healthcare providers found that physical therapist knowledge of the musculoskeletal system is second only to specialized orthopedic physicians.  Just a thought next time you are divvy-ing up Trivial Pursuit teams or “phoning a friend” on Who Wants To Be a Millionaire.

I am a movement specialist – Along with extensive knowledge of the musculoskeletal system , I specialize in the kinesiology of our body as a dynamic and biomechanically moving system functioning in synergy to perform everything from daily activities to elite athletic competition.   Think Erector Set vs Legos.

I am direct access – In the state of Washington, you do not need a physician referral to see a physical therapist!  And in all states, physical therapists with their doctorates are educated in differential diagnosis and can properly diagnose and direct you to the appropriate healthcare provider if it falls outside our scope of practice.

I am cost-effective - Numerous studies show physical therapy is more effective and less expensive than medical care or surgery with results lasting longer.  Studies also show care is less expensive when going to a physical therapist FIRST versus being referred from your physician.

I am still learning – Continuing education is constant focus and forms the foundation of my evidence-enhanced practice.  Once a nerd, always a nerd.

I am cutting edge – I utilize manual therapy, triggerpoint dry needling, SFMA, and partner with FMS-certified trainers.  There is no therapeutic ultrasound machine, tiger balm or bumpy ball in our clinic.

Identity crisis averted.  For some of you this is common knowledge, but sadly for most of the general public these ‘basics’ are new to them.  Here is my challenge to you.  If you are a physical therapist, repost this or write your own informational post on Facebook, Twitter, website or blog.  Social media is huge, embrace it.  If you are someone who has had physical therapy and this isn’t new, then forward it to someone you have heard complaining of aches and pain who may not know.  If this is new to YOU, then next time you have musculoskeletal pain (back pain, knee pain, shoulder pain, neck pain, etc)…see a manual physical therapist FIRST!

Paul Killoren PT, DPT

If you have taken this challenge, leave a comment and let me know.  I could use the encouragement!  Follow me (@DPTwithNeedles) and my colleague (@AWoodsDPT) on Twitter to share more of your comments!  You can also find us @DoctorsofPT and on Facebook…

About these ads

430 comments

  1. I would re -post, but I am not a DPT. I’m a PT with a Bachelor’s and 18 years of experience. I love my profession and have learned more in my 18 years of practice than I did in my 2 years of PT school. You don’t have to limit your learning from continuing ed….learn from anyone….PT, OT, PTA, CNA…..you can learn a lot from those who have been around the block a few times….

    1. I don’t doubt you experince but your profession has moved on and you haven’t. Conversion degrees are out there yet you choose not to grow with your field. Just the choice alone would scare me as a patient.

      1. There is no benefit in retraining an experienced therapist just to stick the “right” letters at the end of their name. Continuing education would be far more beneficial than reinventing the wheel.

    2. As am I B.S. who certainly will not repeat PT school so I can be a “Doctorate” clinician. Few points here. And the next few lines are for the almighty doctorate.
      First, the curriculum is the same–BS, MS or DPT–and I’ve looked at them from Doctorate programs on east and west coasts. PT school is PT school. The requirements were the same in mine–mine was just junior and senior year.
      Second, you’re not a doctor with a doctorate. You’re a physical therapist.
      Third–the doctorate in PT isn’t legitimate. You don’t go through orals like a graduate student. You don’t write a thesis over a year or two and then defend in front of a panel. And no, the end of course research paper we all did doesn’t count as a legitimate thesis. You don’t teach undergraduate courses while you are in graduate school. You do not go to PT school then go to “advanced PT school” in a doctorate program. You went to PT school after an unrelated degree. In short you do nothing a legitimate graduate student does. But like usual physical therapists wish to believe themselves as prima donna primary clinicians when the reality is they are ancillary.
      But hey–that’s great you guys are created the doctorate isn’t it. Have fun with you’re six figure student loans that do not increase your salary one iota. Or your level of competence.

    1. I agree. I was about to post something along these lines. Yes, I’m sure being a PT takes a lot of hard work and sweat; however, representing yourself as a doctor is misleading and doing so is a malpractice suit waiting to happen. I am no more a doctor with my Juris Doctorate than you are with your Doctor of Physical Therapy. Yes, you are a healthcare practitioner, but a “doctor” (in our culture and language) is a title specially reserved for those who have gone through that extensive training. Sure, a three year doctoral degree is impressive, but I don’t doubt M.D.s receive even more training during their four years of medical school, three years of residency, and continued education requirements.

      1. A doctor is a person who has earned the highest academic degree awarded by a college or university in a specified discipline. That is a fact. You are confusing Doctor and Physician. There are probably more individuals with doctoral degrees (excluding MD’s) than actual MD’s. I’m sure they didn’t go over this at University of Phoenix JD program.

      2. You should read DPM’s comment. Pharmacists have a doctorate, as do many other health care professions. People need to start realizing that physicians are not the only doctors in our society

    2. Hey secret Agent,

      “DOCTOR” represents a level of education. “Physician” is the word you’re looking for to describe a medical doctor. MD- medical doctor, DPT- doctor of physical therapy, DO-doctor of osteopathy. Get over yourself

    3. Yes technically they are ‘doctors’ within their field of practice. They all have their own scope of practice that is specific to their respective professions that is acknowledged by insurance payors and patients/clients. Maybe you need some further clarification on the word ‘Doctor’ as it refers to a person’s title. See link http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doctor_(title). The real question is, why do so many MD’s and DO’s think they have sole proprietorship of the title ‘doctor’?

      1. “The real question is, why do so many MD’s and DO’s think they have sole proprietorship of the title ‘doctor’?”

        Don’t forget the Ph.Ds.

        This might be hard to comprehend, but we in academia like to fight over really petty and trivial things like titles. Because when you’re getting your PhD in, say, Neuroscience, and you need to spend 4 years in bachelors, 5-8 years for your PhD, and then another 1-5 years as a Post-Doc before you can begin your career…it is very easy to be a little upset when there are programs (like my alma mater), that condense the process into 3 years bachelors, 3 years doctoral. Six years of school is the equivalent of Masters in most fields.

        Yes, Doctor refers to an honored academic title, but that cuts both ways: if the honored academics don’t want to call DPTs ‘doctors’ because they feel they haven’t earned it, that seems like a fairly legitimate objection (via your wiki).

        3 years of graduate school is just not equivocal to 4-8, plus the addition of another few years from post-doctoral education. I can understand why med professionals, and PhDs (at least in the sciences, god save the humanities), turn their nose up. In many other fields, we’d call that a masters.

        Also, when “Doctors of Physical Therapy” say things like “evidence based research,” as if MDs and PhDs (sciences, of course), just make shit up, it gives us a good reason to feel superior ;)

      2. Why does everyone take statements so personally? We PTs are not saying we use evidence based practice and others do not. We are simply saying that we too use it and what we do is research based and not just voodoo that we think works.

      3. To Elronc Hubbard: I certainly was not inferring the degrees are equivocal since it’s pretty obvious there are different professions who receive Doctorates for their respective field of practice. Also, I wasn’t forgetting PH.D’s. Just because I didn’t mention their holy names in my post, doesn’t mean I forgot they existed. Lastly, what is your idea of ‘honored academics’? I’m sure in your mind that’s a very exclusive club for the PH.D or MD elite who would like to keep full ownership of the title ‘Doctor’. Surely, the governing bodies both federal and state recognize Doctors of Physical Therapy and many other professions and issue licenses with such titles printed on them. Additionally, insurance payors have also recognized such titles and require DPT’s to graduate from accredited universities before they can qualify for insurance credentialing. I guess in your mind the ‘honored academics’ include a different group of academics than what reality does. Please enlighten us on what your definition is when you say ‘honored academics’. Since your version probably includes yourself, I guess I better ask if Physical Therapists can hold Doctorate degrees? Oh wait, they already can and do.

  2. I’ve wanted to reply to so many posts on here but instead I’ll just rant like every one else haha!
    1) I am a Doctor of Physical Therapy, I’ve earned that title. I am not a Doctor of anything else but a Doctor I am. Do I always address myself to my patients as Doctor, no, but some need that reassurance and I say “My name is Doctor such and such, I will be your Physical Therapist today”. Physicians (of any specialty) do not own the title of Doctor, you just think (wish) you did. People with PhD’s are also Doctors. Many of you angry Physicians had them in your pre-med school. You probably called them Doctor such and such then, so why so mad now?
    2) It is not confusing to patients. When I ask my patients about their medical history and they say they have a history of chest pain I don’t ask “Are you being followed or have you been seen by a Doctor” I ask if they are being or have seen a Cardiologist/Neurologist/Rheumatologist/whatever. Patients know the difference and if they don’t they need to be educated, but they know. In a hospital it might be different but usually the person that is with you for up to an hour at a time isn’t a physician or a nurse. It’s either an OT or a PT, maybe RT. (Side note) OT’s do not own the upper extremities. You are adapting/modifiying peoples activities so they can accomplish tasks on a day to day basis. I don’t believe you do joint mobs, neurodynamics, scapular assessments which are all needed to treat the upper extremities. You are very needed because I am not going to show someone how to shower or go to the bathroom but if they don’t have the range of motion/strength/movement pattern required to reach the head to wash or wipe, my money is on PT. You can have the hands though, that’s all you guys in my book haha (especially if you’re a CHT, certified hand therapist)
    3) Let’s be real, Medical school and the path to become any physician is much longer and more grueling than any PT school. They know way more than we PT’s will ever know (for some things) and they should. I would never say that I can be a physician and would ever want to be. The biggest thing that you physicians have overlooked is TIME SPENT with patients is a big factor as to why we as PT’s actually do have a leg up on you in the area of non imagery assisted musculoskeletal diagnosing (and even then, the relevance of imaging is still confounded). I’ve followed Surgeons and PM&R physicians (they can see up to 60 patients a day!!!) that do a quick “screen” and come up with a “diagnosis”. “Shoulder pain” or “back pain” is not a diagnoses (technically they are, based on ICD-9/10 but you understand). They are symptoms. It is not fair though to blame the physicians for referring somebody who is complaining of shoulder pain for…shoulder pain. Even with plain film radiographs or MRI’s findings of a minor cuff tear, the PT is more likely to find that their shoulder pain may actually be a referral pattern or radicular symptom from the cervical spine; made possible because of the amount of time we spend with each person. Physicans usually don’t get to have that much time with their patients, give them a brake. Physicians, you guys are not gods, you are people who went to school for a looooooooong time. You are a better physician than I will ever be but I am a better physical therapist than you are, I’m sure of it. You do what you do well, if I can’t treat it, it’s out of my world…but as PT I know that. Don’t tell me what I do and do not know, it is insulting and makes you look ignorant. DIAGNOSING is only step one (which you may or may not do as good or better than a PT) but if you are not going to cut them open or give them a life time of pills then your job is pretty much done. Yes, PT’s diagnose, it’s called a PT diagnosis. Get over it. You don’t really care any way once they’re out of your office and you don’t see them again for 6 weeks while they are with me.
    3) PT’s are not movement experts…but we should be. Yes, Strength and Conditioning specialists are probably better than most average PT’s to retrain such movements as a Power Clean, Golf Swing, Tennis serve and dare I say it…running!? Now on the other hand though PT’s are/can be movement specialists (I don’t usually say experts) but on a larger spectrum of patients. How many of you CSCS people out there would know how to retrain an individual 2 weeks post Right MCA stroke to be able to eat with both hands again or even just walk or get out of bed? I’m a CSCS and I’m pretty sure I didn’t learn that anywhere during plyometrics class or periodization principles. So in that manner, we are movement specialist or even experts, but on more than just the athletic population.
    4) DPT vs MPT vs PT: It denotes your level of education COMING OUT OF SCHOOL. It by no means determines your level of skill or for that matter, knowledge base. MPT’s and BPT’s tend to discredit the differences but there are significant advances that have been made since the start of PT, mainly evidence and research. It’s called EBP, evidence based research (I think about it as evidence guided), and it is the biggest difference between a DPT program and one that is not (although there are no longer any non-DPT programs I believe). Research is how we know that some modalities, such as ultrasound, (or even tiger balm), is not the most effective form of treatment but it has it’s. The Three pillars of EBP are Research (to know that what we do is actually valid), Experience (accumulated over time), and Patient Involvement (not a passive treatment situation). New grad DPT’s have the 1st one on most “old school” PT’s and non-DPT’s usually are stocked heavy on the 2nd one and probably the third. The difference that with time and experience, the DPT with have all three but if the non-DPT does not accept evidence and research as a essential component, then eventually, you will be left behind (think bringing a knife to a gun fight).
    5) MOST IMPORTANT: This article addresses a need to educate the public, and by the comments, our fellow health care professionals. People are threatened by what they don’t know and for the most part, people don’t really know what PT’s do. I appreciated this article and the ACTUAL intention of it…TO EDUCATE. I’m proud of my profession and educating the public is needed so that these discussions of “why I can call myself a doctor” will be much less important than “How can I help you/or your patients get better”. My profession being lifted up doesn’t lessen yours. If you want to know more about PT, please educate yourself or stop bashing what you know nothing about.

    Just my thoughts.
    Signed,
    a DOCTOR of PHYSICAL THERAPY or PT, DPT, CSCS, OCS, SCS, FAAOMPT, (No, these are not made up and I didn’t buy them online. I also know what a lot of school feels like)

    1. I’m an ‘old school’ PT with 37 years of experience and agree with the DPT with all the alphabets after his/her name. I don’t have quite that many. Change is a threat to many, unfortunately. I had the opportunity to work in military medicine. The PTs I worked with were better at using MSK imaging and making MSK diagnoses than many NPs, PAs and PCMs mainly because we have the time to discuss mechanism of injury and understand what injuries can result from various mechanisms. It shouldn’t be viewed as a competition. We’re specialists. And we’re all working for the patient. Nobody owns parts of the human body or parts of healthcare practice.
      As an aside, the credentials/letters indicate successful training. Unfortunately, they don’t necessarily indicate level of skill of clinical competence. I’ve attended courses with therapists boasting CMT who had horrible handling skills. Credentials are a starting point but constant self-assessment is pretty darn valuable.
      PT, DPT, FAAOMPT

      1. I can only hope your first job is in a hospital setting and you truly learn the meaning of a “team” commitment to achieve a patient’s goals. Because if this is your “role model” and you are going to work in outpatient…..well then God help your patients…

    2. You know your profession and I know mine. I am an OT CHT and am specialized at everything from the shoulder down. CHT’s are tested and certified over the entire upper quadrant just in case you were unclear as to what that title meant. And, yes I earned that title. Do not assume that you have more knowledge about the shoulder than an OT, find out. If you do, share and if you don’t learn. Some of us have spend years specializing in particular areas of the body. And it is totally within my practice act to do “joint mobs, neurodynamics, scapular assessments which are all needed to treat the upper extremities.” A PT, how did you put it, “doesn’t own” these treatments anymore and an OT owns the arm. I can do all that and still get my hands dirty and do shower and toilet training. I will do what ever it takes to improved the quality of life for my patient. By all means be proud of your accomplishments but if your accomplishments are so great then you should not have to make yourself look more important my trying to show the limitations in others. Continue to do a great job with your patients and that will do far more than this above rant at promoting your profession. And just on a side note, I hope I don’t have to work with you till you have a few more years in the field to gain some humility and respect for the other healthcare providers that are just as important as you think you are.

      1. Lisa It is fools like this that make the PT profession bad. Humility is correct , if you get people better efficiently and teach them how to help themselves you won’t need to brag.

      2. Lisa, in regards to “owning” the upper extremities, I was merely stating that in hospital settings there is usually a delineation that OT’s work on the arms and PT’s work on the legs separation. At least this is how it’s been in my experience. Maybe this is the hospitals policy, who knows but it just doesn’t make any sense to me. I’m sure you’re a great OT and as a CHT (which is a very difficult certification) you probably know more than the general OT or PT about the upper extremities. I’m just saying that I’ve had OT’s come to PT for treatment but have not heard any experiences the other way around, besides for hands, that’s all. I have a lot of respect for other health care professionals but as most of the posts on here were OTHER health care professionals insulting or down grading MY profession, I wrote in response to that much like you did when you felt like I was “trying to show the limitations in others”. Whether you believe me or not, I respect OT’s very much (and MD’s, DO’s, DC’s, etc) so I apologize if it did not come off that way (not like it really matters at this point). I have not seen any OT’s perform joint mobilizations while in the clinic but if you do then you do. I stand corrected. I appreciate your comment on my rant above.

      3. Please don’t mistake the author’s attempt to inform as being arrogant. Many health professionals and patient’s truly do not know what a Physical Therapist does or is allowed to do within their scope of practice at both the federal and respective state level. Also patients like to know how much schooling those who are treating them have gone through. It makes them more confident in the care they receive. I felt the author was simply trying to be educational, not boastful or arrogant.

      4. Thank you Lisa. This original author’s limited knowledge on health care professionals in general truly scares me. And the fact that in this day and age, he/she is able to post ridiculous information like this and mislead the public is beyond frustrating. Each day it seems there is more and more required documentation and less direct patient care….and now we have to spend more precious time explaining idiotic “blogs” like these to patients to better educate them…

    3. I’m an OTR & a DPT. FYI: OTs most certainly are trained to do joint mobs & scapular assessments and treatment. We treat movement & muscular skeletal impairments in conjunction w/ ADL training in order to help our clients gain functional independence. Instead of being territorial, or trying to boast how skilled you are, I think its most beneficial to work collaboratively with all health care disciples, for the greater good of you patients.

    4. I’m a OT (hand therapist, though not a CHT) and to even state that we do not do joint mobs or assess the scapula is flat out funny. We treat the entire UE, and if I had to bet, I would almost guarantee I know more about the shoulder than you do because that is my specialty and focus. You sound very ignorant to suggest all OT’s do is teach someone how to shower. Pretty sure I did not spend three years of grad school (yes, we do go through the same length of education as PT’s) to “teach someone how to shower”. As someone who works with PT’s on a regular basis I would say you give them a bad name. The arrogance of many of your statements and assumptions astounds me.

      1. Amen,
        Agreed.

        This guy is most definitely not promoting our profession. He is stroking his own narcissistic ego.

    5. I don’t have a DPT. Whew, I said it. I do have an MOT, as well as a BSOT. Also I have 45 years of experience. Now that is not the issue. In your above and labeled “rant”, you mischaracterized and “labeled” Occupational Therapists in a dismissive and erroneous manner, and you should be ashamed of yourself.

      “OT’s do not own the upper extremities. You are adapting/modifiying peoples activities so they can accomplish tasks on a day to day basis. I don’t believe you do joint mobs, neurodynamics, scapular assessments which are all needed to treat the upper extremities. You are very needed because I am not going to show someone how to shower or go to the bathroom but if they don’t have the range of motion/strength/movement pattern required to reach the head to wash or wipe, my money is on PT. You can have the hands though, that’s all you guys in my book haha (especially if you’re a CHT, certified hand therapist).”

      (by the way…you misspelled modifying. OT’s teach people to use spellcheck too. That is an adaptive skill.)

      But I digress and just got a bit petty….like you. You need to catch up with the modern Occupational Therapist. They are well educated (minimum Masters level entry….just like PT was until this year, and have multiple Occupational Therapy Doctoral programs across this broad land….and world) and yes we do joint mobilization, neurodynamics, and scapular assessments as well as spinal assessments, swallowing assessments, developmental assessments and….disability assessments and Functional Capacity assessments and just about any other assessment that you seem to hold in the “Physical Therapy Scope of Practice.” In addition we are fully concerned and active in using and establishing “evidence based practice”. Who established the norms for grip and pinch and hand function…..and who developed the protocols for measuring functional outcomes? Again, I am being petty….sorry.

      Occupational Therapists provide rehabilitation that incudes the strengthening, range of motion, balance and all of those thing you attribute to ONLY Physical Therapy…..however we take it step further and are using all those components and all the wonderful increases in range of motion, increases in strength, and increases in balance that you PT folks teach and supervise, and integrate them into functional movement for all sorts of things. (By the way….my “niece” would take umbrage with you regarding Functional skills education….but I digress again). Let me see….how about independent living, returning to work, using adaptive equipment to be independent, driving a car without feet or hands, or arms or legs. We even help people do other daily living tasks that others do not address….like sex when the need is there and others are not knowledgeable or concerned. If there is a need, we, as body of professionals, are concerned about the entire spectrum of life skills and how to perform them. One of the “tag lines” for OT is that “we are adaptive”. I like that!!!!!

      Now, I am not saying that we…as a profession….are any better than anyone else. We are part of a TEAM of professional, irrespective of their level of education, that perform a service to and for our patients. None of us can work independently in ALL aspects of disability “the lack of ability to perform a desired task or movement”. Some of the best therapists I know are COTAs and PTAs, and CNAs and nursing aides.

      Yes….each and every one of us can treat and resolve many problems. But as the Saying goes “It takes a village to raise a child”. It takes a TEAM to rehabilitate folks. Sometimes that team is expansive including Psychologists, Nurses, Social Workers, Recreational Therapists, Speech Therapists (the first profession of therapists to require a Masters degree by the way), Vocational Counselors, Rehabilitation Counselors, Physician Assistants, Nurse Practioners and please do not forget the physicians (sometimes known colloquially as the Doctors). At other times, each and every one of the above professionals can handle some problems/injuries independently. That is why there are so many of us. Dedicated professionals who spend our lives helping others through difficult times, individually or as a team.

      I am having trouble enumerating all of my credentials so I will just use a few: MOT, OTR/L, FAOTA, oh and CES and CFCE.

  3. I have an Ex Phys degree and wanted to go to PT school but did not realize how competitive it was. Why is that? Don’t get me wrong I know it isn’t easy but I’ve seen kids get turned down with 3.5 – 3.6 gpa. Also, I am doing nursing now but is it worth to go back to PT school in a few years?

  4. I am an ardent supporter of PT and the therapists I have worked with thru a back injury and a broken hip. As a result of their help I am living alone with independence when they first told me I might never drive again after the hip I was pretty upset __six weeks later I was driving myself to outpatient treatment. I would prefer a PT to a MD anytime

  5. So… What are the “cutting edge” therapies then? It appears as though this article missed addressing the point of the opening argument. It would have been refreshing to be educated by a doctor on what cutting edge modalities are truly out there and being utliized on patients to help them regain motion, strength and independence. Instead, the author went on a rant about their title and education because their white coat feelings were somehow hurt by Dr. Oz, a cardiothoracic surgeon with (4 years bachelor degree) + (4 years medical school) + (5 years general surgery residency) + (3 years of cardiothoracic surgery fellowship). Also, a little arrogant to claim superior knowledge than all but subspecialized orthopods. I think he (Dr. Oz) knows how the body moves, works, and how the musculoskeletal system operates too… I’m pretty sure they cover that in medical school.

    1. If you read the literature (yes, go to pubmed and do the research) it shows the PT knowledge of the musculoskeletal system is only seconday to an orthopedic surgeon. This is not fact, but this is also not made up information. Based off of the exams given to various populations of health professionals (including MDs) this is what the results have shown. MDs obviously know the musculoskeletal system very well; however, most of the literature shows PTs can be as good/better in diagnosing certain injuries because it is our specialty. Dr. Oz may have those credentials, but he calls in other experts because even he realizes some professionals are more specialized than he is in certain areas.

    2. To CoatlandTitleEnvy: The author paraphrases an article showing PTs second only to Orthopods in MS knowledge. Then the author’s last point cited his credentials and mentioned ‘cutting edge’ PT techniques. Did you actually read this article? If so, your reading comprehension needs some work. He tells you his version of ‘cutting edge’ not that the article was written to specifically answer that question anyways. For all of you still needing some understanding about the title Doctor, it’s a Doctorate of Physical therapy, not Medical Doctor or Doctorate of Osteopathic medicine but Doctor nonetheless within its scope. MDs and DO’s like to think they are the sole owners of that title but it’s simply not true. Plus it’s just a title anyways that denotes your level of education and scope of practice for payors and patients. It’s our job as health professionals to educate patients on our respective roles which is what the author was simply trying to do. Funny how so many MDs get offended and simply don’t understand something as simple as an education title.

    3. This article shows that physios and ortopods have a much higher rate of predicting diagnostic imaging than MD’s. Physios 75%, orthopods 81%, MD’s were at 35%. This is a good example to highlight the level of expertise in regards to the musculo-skeletal system.

      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15773564

      “Patients don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

    4. My professors at PT school taught the med students their couple day education on the musculoskeletal system because they are EXPERTS in their field. Unless an MD goes into orthopedics, he/she probably does not know more than me on diagnosing AND treating musculoskeletal disorders (reference the article everyone keeps talking about).

      “Cutting edge” modalities (i.e. ultrasound, electrical stimulation, laser, etc) are just one of many tools in a PT’s toolbox. We must efficiently evaluate a patient to determine what joint mobilizations, soft tissue mobilizations, neural mobilizations, traction, therapeutic exercise, etc are most effective to increase painfree ROM and increase strength/control to prevent re-injury.

  6. Thanks! From one DPT to another. Especially as an ACT, ACSM CPT and McKenzie Spine specialist (cert MDT) this was more than a little irritating!

  7. About the article in general. No profession should rely on TV shows to accurately portray their profession even if it is the great and powerful OZ. So yes, be concerned and educate. Believe me, OT’s have just has hard of a time getting people to understand what our profession really does as PT’s. Keep doing a great job and keep learning, I, and hopefully my profession, will do the same.

  8. Reblogged this on Travelling Trolls and commented:
    The video linked in this post is embarrassing. Thanks to this writer for taking a moment to comment on why PT is so much more than a tiger balm patch! Not that I don’t love a little TB on sore muscles, but that is not what we have dedicated so much time and energy to studying. Frankly, it bothers me a lot that the PT on Dr. OZ would allow our profession to be represented as such. Not to mention there is no formula to fixing all the different back pain out there. Please take a moment to read and learn just a smidge more about a very misunderstood profession. I hope that my class and those to follow realize the importance of educating the public on what a PT is and does.

  9. You make our profession sound like stuck up a-holes, I don’t care what initials you have the cream will always rise to the top. Signed PT,MHS,DPT, Cert MDT I suggest you get the last one because research shows it is better then your FAAOMPT

    1. Mark, our profession is like a sports team to me. I cheer for it and know the ins and outs, the who’s and how’s, and pays attention to what goes on within this team, team PT let’s call it. You bash my team, I defend it. That’s all I was doing. You’re right, the cream does rise to the top but it can also go bad if it’s left out too long and not churned into butter! I posted my credentials to emphasize to the OTHER health professions reading all these posts that Physical Therapists are not glorified personal trainers. I could easily look at your Cert MDT and say that all you really do are extension exercises but that would be wrong wouldn’t it? What if I said that your Cert MDT (that you so proudly stated was BETTER than my abdcdefg) didn’t really mean anything and that you shouldn’t be telling people that you are a specialist in that treatment approach? Wouldn’t you defend it?! So before you start calling someone a stuck up A-hole, maybe understand that we as a profession need to be able to stand our ground when we are questioned as to the efficacy of what we do and the level of our education. I repeat again, we’re not MD’s but we do know a little something about something and it’s not just spikey balls and salon pas, and whether I want to call myself a Doctor of Physical Therapy is my EARNED right, it says so on my diploma. You don’t have to advocate for our profession, that’s your right not to but don’t call me arrogant because I speak out when I feel like we are being misrepresented in the eyes of our fellow HC providers. So thanks for the suggestion on the Cert-MDT but after 5 years of undergrad (to include PT school pre-reqs) 3 years of PT school, a year orthopedic residency, a year sports residency, a year fellowship with several years of clinical work, research, and instructing dispersed in between ,sometimes during, each one of those…I’ll pass on any more long term credentialing courses (I need my sleep). But since you didn’t post it, where is your FAAOMPT designation? Shouldn’t you have that status available to you? Unless…you took the 16 day con-ed course in which case, I’m pretty sure your research would show that Cert MDT Fellowship (2-3 year credentialing) is not the same as Cert MDT (16 day con-ed course with the first 2 parts being online). Either way, go Team PT!

      1. Doctors don’t have time to defend their practice.
        You aren’t unappreciated, make a very good living reinforcing
        And teaching people how to modify their behaviors in a dynamic that results in least amount of pain (or none) in daily living.
        Thank you for your training but I also thought your compensation and ability to learn should be at the fore front of your thought before you rant about how “under appreciated PT’s are”
        That’s like a lawyer complaining about reading journals and judicial rulings.

        If you’re not passionate about it, get out, there’s a line of graduates behind you. (76% school, me too buddy.)

      2. “but after 5 years of undergrad (to include PT school pre-reqs) 3 years of PT school, a year orthopedic residency, a year sports residency, a year fellowship with several years of clinical work, research, and instructing dispersed in between”. Honestly, talk more about yourself. You really give all therapist’s a bad name. Guess what. 1.) 4 years undergrad, 2.) 3 years grad school for OT 3.) 2 year fellowship in hands/UE track 4.) 3 published articles, I still get to introduce myself to my patient’s by saying, “Hi, I’m Susan, and I’ll be the therapist you are working with today”. I bet mommy and daddy are so proud of their “doctor” son. Haha, thanks for the entertainment.

  10. Wow. In our culture, when a person request a doctor, they are referring to MD or DO.
    If there is an emergency on the plane, the flight attendant is going to say, “Is there a doctor on board?”. Rest assure, he/she is referring to a MD/DO doctor. A physician..
    The only true doctors are MD/DO or DDS/DMD. OMFS are now dual degree DDS/DMD with a MD as well.

    Now a days everyone wants to be called doctor.. Do mislead the public.
    Cheers

    1. MDs and DOs are physicians. They never used to be called doctors until they wanted to be like the other experts called “doctors”. If you went to college, I’m sure you called your professors Dr. JoeSchmo teacher of basket weaving (p.s that professor wasn’t an MD). We are failing as a society if we dumb ourselves down to not confuse the public. The public should be educated so they are not confused.

  11. Overall this is a nice article, and I agree with the Dr. Oz being a joke, however there is a problem (or 3) with the “comprehensive” study showing us as MS experts.

    I first reasd this study when I was in PT school and continue to be puzzled why my classmates then and my colleagues now love this study. This is not a good study. It suffers confirmation bias, omission bias, and researcher bias. Why would we tout our MS knowledge against the likes of ob-gyn’s, but purposely omit our closest competitions (physiatrists)? To confirm how smart we are? The researchers knew that we would “lose” to orthopods and “beat” the other Dr’s that have way less MS schooling than us. The only good nugget here is that we trounced family practice docs, seeing as though most people will go to their PCP’s when they have a pain complaint, but when the researchers include psych’s and ob’s while omitting PM&R then we can’t point to this study as “comprehensive” when the truth is that it was a study to make us feel better as a profession and proves nothing.

  12. Im a PT and I use ultrasound occasionally as part of my treatment plan for tendonitis problems. Does that mean my patients should choose another PT because Im “outdated”? Let me let you in on a little secret – some of the “cutting edge” stuff you are doing right now will be —- you guessed it — outdated at some point. Some of the old treatments work just fine – thats why they have been around so long. Just wait for this “dry needling” craze to fade away in 10 years.

  13. First, Michael, follow your dream. If you think you have the passion needed to care for sick and injured individuals…do it! Nursing is as rewarding as PT, OT, MD, etc… For me it was worth the wait as it took me two attempts to get into PT school. Passionate providers are the best teammates!

    Second, I am a Doctor of Physical Therapy. However, my patients know me by my first name only. While I am proud of my accomplishment to achieve my Doctorate, that does not elevate my patient care skills above that of the BPT with 18 years of clinical experience. We are all on the same team. OTs rock my world with the skills we can share to restore a severe hemiplegic patient’s functional mobility, reach, etc. There’s no reason to doubt or downplay the value of each of our professions or puff out our chests as if we were better than anyone else. A title is just a title and we all could use a little humility to help remind us of the root cause for our decision to pursue the title….to care for those who need us with the best of our ability.

    Third, I noticed today that I called my dog’s veterinarian DOCTOR —- and as I was driving home , I passed a sign for the Chiropractic clinic run by DOCTOR —–. As I looked at the curriculum taught at the local University, I see that DOCTOR —- is still teaching Entomology 101: a bugs life. Now I think I will call my friend who is the Chief Food Safety inspector for a large fast food chain and is referred to as DOCTOR —- by those who he works with and I may just have to remind him that he is not a physician (weak attempt at sarcasm). Strangely enough, I never once thought that any of these people were physicians. I guess it is because I, much like our patients can / do, recognize the field they represent and that they are doctors of that field.

    As for the author of this article/rant. Way to raise your banner and show pride. Keep up your passion but remember to appreciate not depreciate your counterparts in each field from CNAs and HHA to OTs and DOs….continue to learn from them because without them we are but a pencil without a sharpener.

    God Bless

  14. I am bothered that as medical professionals we are debating and degrading “Our team” of health care professionals on a public forum that was meant to education patients. In regards to the conversation about therapists and muscle skeletal experts I found this research article measuring their knowledge. Hope it is helpful.

    http://www.putmebacktogether.com/Home/PhysicalTherapyArticles/PhysicalTherapyArticle/itemId/98/Whos-the-Musculoskeletal-Expert-A-Physician-or-A.aspx

  15. Stop bashing eachother. Seriously everyone on here sayign DPT’s aren’t doctors, or OT’s aren’t as good as PT’s just make me scared as a patient. I want my orthopedic doctor, my cardiologist, my PCP, and my therapists TO WORK TOGETHER. Your concern as a healthcare provider should be helping your patient get back to their prior level of function, if thats sports, or toileting, or simply sitting up without being winded. Everyone plays a cruical role in the process, sure without therapy some patients would never walk again, but therapists don’t forget that sometimes physician intervention is required. noone can do it without help from someone else at some point. All the poster wanted was to educate people on HIS profession. If you are an md PhD whatever write your own damn post and I will be sure to read it and see if I learn anything about your profession. These comments scare me as a PTA who is also in school for my doctorate because I don’t want to be apart of a society where people cant grow the heck up. I promise you I know more about musculoskeletal disorders than any cardiologist I’ve ever met. who cares if they are a “doctor” and I’m not. I promise they know more about cardiology than I do. Look at YOUR degree. That is what you are an “expert” in. I don’t know any doctor that is an expert in EVERY field. So everyone do your own damn job and stop bashing everyone else.

    -PTA, SDPT.

  16. I reposted this. I believe in what you say. However I am a MSPT and do not have a DPT. I wish your post was a little more inclusive of the rest of us. I’ll repost it though, BC your point is important. However now all my patients are going to ask me if I’m a doc. I have over 13 years experience, many manual cont Ed classes, and practice manual techniques and movement daily. We don’t get the recognition we deserve. Our lobby sucks! Ins reimbursement keeps getting lower. I love what I do! Someone needs to speak up! Check us out at http://WWW.physiosportscenterwest.com Facebook@physiosportscenterwest. Twitter@pscwnyc. Pinterest@pscwnyc

  17. Doctor, as a title, originates from the Latin word of the same spelling and meaning.[1] The word is originally anagentive noun of the Latin verb docēre [dɔˈkeːrɛ] ‘to teach’. It has been used as an honored academic title for over a millennium in Europe, where it dates back to the rise of the first universities. This use spread to theAmericas, former European colonies, and is now prevalent in most of the world. Contracted “Dr” or “Dr.”, it is used as a designation for a person who has obtained a doctorate-level degree. Doctorates may be research doctorates or professional doctorates. When addressing several people, each of whom holds a doctoral title, one may use the plural contraction “Drs” (or “Drs.” inAmerican English) – or in some languages (for example, German) “Dres.” may be used – for example, instead of Dr Miller and Dr Rubinstein: Drs Miller and Rubinstein. When referring to relatives with the same surname the form “The Doctors Smith” can be used. The abbreviation Drs. can also mean doctorandus, a Dutch academic title.

    Origins

  18. It can be explained easiest like this.
    Medical doctors go to school for many years and study many body systems some breifly some moderately and some with a great deal of focus. The then chooses an area of expertise and head in that direction.
    A physical therapist first chooses there area of focus (physical therapy) and then spends many of years learning about it. Then they start practicing it and continue to learn about it with continuing education.

  19. Can’ t we all just band together against the real affender of the doctor title. Chiropractors
    Esspecially seeing as the old ones have two or four year degrees from special chiropractor schools. The toss the doctor term around like they are all doctors wrapped up in one package. They will tell you there better than medical docs and their always tring to preform therapy services wrongly ofcouse. And this all started with Oz and he is an MD playing chiropractor on the tellie.

  20. I understand that in today’s everyday usage, the term “Doctor” refers to a physician; however, as people have previously mentioned, the term Doctor is also used in reference to an academic achievement and degree level. Physical Therapists are now required to complete a doctoral degree in order to be able to practice. Everyone in the medical field works hard for their degree and devotes a lot of time to making sure the patients get the best care possible. We all end up working together in hospitals, yes referrals to other professions with patients. So why is it necessary to have a full blown debate over the use of Doctor? While physicians do spend a lot of time with their schooling and residency, that is the decision that was made in order to pursue that major. Physicians are not the only people that are in this situation either. Physicians have certainly earned their degree, but just because more time was spent in a school or fulfilling requirements does not discredit the effort and time that other people had to dedicate to their professions. The official degree that physical therapists receive upon graduation is a Doctorate of Physical Therapy. So while, physical therapists are not “Doctors” in reference to the common medical slang, they are doctors by their own right and schooling. Since we are all working for the care of the patient, wouldn’t focusing on better ways to provide care and communication between our fields be time better spent instead of bickering over something as trivial as a title that we were ALL awarded upon graduation? Our pride or desire for a specific title shouldn’t be our first reaction to the article, but the points themselves about the kind of care provided should be.

    1. STOP TRYING TO MAKE YOURSELF FEEL SO IMPORTANT! If you really wanted to be an MD, you would have. You chose to be a therapist, and hopefully for a good reason, to help people! PT’s, OT’s, PA, CNP’s, SLP’s are NOT doctors! It’s pretty black and white and what people like you and this blog are doing are just confusing the general public (who doesn’t have a medical degree by the way)!

  21. Even more disturbing is that I am an Occupational Therapist with just as much education as you, however, we are not valued or understood by the general public. At least people have a “vague” idea of what a Physical Therapist is! I wouldn’t complain so much DOCTOR Killoren. What a joke…

  22. What is troubling is that people who replied to this post got stuck on Paul Killoren’s first point (if you are asking yourself who this person is… then you really got stuck on the first point). He noted that he is a doctor and how many years he had got educated to do this. All of a sudden all the comments are now about this one point. For me personally I think the biggest points that he makes are the next few. “I am a musculoskeletal expert”, “I am a movement specialist”, “I am still learning.” These are the points that really speak to me as a physical therapist.

    If you are getting caught up in the word doctor, who calls who that, and you have to educate people on if you are or aren’t considered a doctor then I think you are heading down the wrong path. Instead I would be educating people on what I can do for them by using those points I just mentioned. I dont care to much for his “who wants to be a millionaire” comment but he is right in the sense that MD’s will send patients to be because they realize that I have a better understanding of the musculoskeletal system. Most of our education deals with this system and how it is affected by the rest of the body. That’s not to say that other professions have not had this education but it is the ground work for what we treat.

    Personally for me I think the 3rd point really is where our profession should be moving toward. “I am a movement specialist.” That is really what physical therapy is suppose to be about. Orthopedic physicians may know more about the musculoskeletal system then I do but when it comes to movement of the entire body our profession should be at the top of the list. Lets take a therapist in the video, although she was promoting ultrasound, heat patches, and a fancy ball for your back; she was promoting movement. Tissue pliability, less resistance, traction, stabilization. These words she says so casually are heard by people but are not picked up because there is no follow though on the purpose of the treatment. What is she doing? She is promoting movement in the body but this is were we really need to educate people that this is what is happening and what is needed for healing.

    Lastly, this person is right in saying that “I am still learning.” I should hope this holds true for everyone that deals with patients. The world of health care is always changing and we need to change with it. There are always going to be new treatments or techniques out there that research bring forth. Our job is to understand this information, not just for our own growth but for our patients as well. A patient in this day and age is going to come in and ask about this new medication or treatment that they saw on the television. If this pertains to your field of expertise then you should know about or at least be able to say “I dont know, but I can find out for you.” Then go and take a look at what they are talking about. I think when it comes down to it education is so powerful in the sense that if you can change the way a person thinks or their perception of their problem then you can help them get back to where they need to be. The bottom line is to be able to do this you need to continue learning and gain experience.

    If this comment caused you to agree, disagree, or have an emotional out burst, then it worked. The main reason for this post was to facilitate thought and hopefully this comment did as well.

    1. Oh, I unapologetically take issue with his claim to be an expert from the word go. I guess he didn’t like what I had to say, because he has not posted any of my replies.

    2. What is troubling is the author’s need to “boast” about his/her relevance in healthcare compared to everyone else in healthcare that represents the “team” effort. He/she makes a bad name for PT’s everywhere because more often than not (granted, in my own personal experience) the PT’s (specifically DPT’s) present with the thinking that they can do EVERYTHING on their own. Rather than relying on OT/SLP’s for cognitive/functional mobility assessment (which does include ambulation believe it or not) they feel like they can do it all. I honestly believe this stems from their education. And before you judge me, I am an MS, OTR/L/BSPT….I could honestly care less about your credentials. I’ve seen CNA’s have more impact on a patient’s overall outcome than their MD. What matter is that our main goals are the patient’s goals. And that is the most important part the author fails to address!

    3. Whoa!. You did not address him as Dr. Killoren? What has society come to!. This whole entire blog is a joke. Everyone wants to feel “special” and the fact that now we have DPT’s and OTD’s going around referring to themselves as “doctor’s” to the general public is a serious problem. If you cannot see that AK, you haven’t been in practice long enough!

      1. This is absurdity, I hope you realize that. A ‘doctor’ literally someone who has achieved a doctorate degree. That’s what it means. The ‘general public’ knows the difference. As someone said prior, my vet is a doctor. My undergrad english professor was a doctor in her field. My sister has a doctorate in law. She is referred to as doctor so-and-so.

        I have an DO, and I couldn’t care less if people who aren’t MD/DO/DMD/DDS call themselves DOCTOR if they have a doctorate. I couldn’t care less if people call me by my name or Dr. So-and-so. I don’t care how long you’ve been in practice, this is absolute ignorance. If you’ve got a DOCTORATE you can call yourself doctor. He never claimed to be a physician.

        It’s people like you that are the serious problem. People like their titles- and if they’ve earned them who the heck cares if they use them (in a professional or non professional setting). Honestly, get over yourself. You sound like someone who has nothing else to complain about or is sore that your particular field didn’t grant you a doctorate.

  23. Just reading all of the comments – mostly good.. and decided to give my own input (if anyone cares).

    I’m a PT student about to graduate (after 1 more clinical internship) with my DPT. I think the whole “Doctor” thing is a preference. If you want to call yourself Dr… go for it. I do agree Dr. is commonly synonymous with the word physician to the general public – but we do have a professional and extensive education, and I do think we deserve to be able to distinguish ourselves as a Dr if we want to (of physical therapy)… so I’m really on the fence and don’t have a preference either way.

    My main gripe though is… I do think the 3rd year of PT school “to make it a doctorate” is …. not very good. The 3rd year is really unneeded and is just a way for schools to make money in my opinion – which is unfortunate. At my school, we have three 3 internship periods .. and I would say the 3rd one is wholly unnecessary. Most people have a good grasp on where they want to work – and if they are on the fence… I think 2 internship periods is more than enough (as each period can have 2 rotations from 6-8 weeks typically). So thats potentially 4 different rotation spots, with each being 6-8 weeks long. So… why do we need a THIRD internship period? It’s really a joke. Not to mention we, as students, are PAYING to work somewhere FULL TIME for absolutely no reimbursement or reward. These internships are supposed to be for learning, but in reality from both of my experiences (and from talking with the other 50 students in my class) – they are a way to have free labor most of the time. I’ve been to a clinic with only one PT (the owner), and he will have 5 students working there full-time…. so thats 5 students 40 hours/week – seeing a full patient load and making tons of money for him. How is that right? It’s an issue on the business end in a way… and the whole internship model is kind of a disservice in general to us students. The whole internship thing needs to be restructured or remodeled some way. It’s not right and it’s a huge problem imo.

    Not to mention a lot of classes, especially in the 3rd and final year, are kind of joke classes that are solely offered to meet accreditation standards.

    One of my other biggest gripes with PT school is that we are supposed to be experts in movement, exercises, etc – yet, my school at least, doesn’t even have a therapeutic exercise class – and exercises are rushed and glossed over – so essentially… our experience with learning exercises is up to us (from our anatomy knowledge… which is ok I suppose) – and our clinical internships (which again… depending where you go…. you may go somewhere where all of the exercises are “a joke” and the same for every patient)… so you really aren’t learning anything in that regard.

    A lot of people on here are very passionate about learning and being great – and I applaud that because I would like to be like that too. However, are schools and education are not doing as good of a job as they should – and the clinical rotation are a big issue imo (the experiences my classmates and I have had have not been that reinforcing).

  24. Hi, I am currently doing my undergrad in “Kinesiology” but I don’t know if I want to go into DPT just yet. I could do PTA just to try out the field, it takes less commitment and money. However if I do ever decide to transfer to DPT from PTA then that would be a pain in my butt and might be even impossible. I also do not want to take additional physics and chemistry classes with my already rigorous Kinesiology courses. Also PT school is a butt load of money. What should I do I can’t decide what to do? I don’t know what else to do with my Kinesiology degree if I don’t go DPT route.

  25. What is the impression of DPT posting to the general public:

    “accepted to medical school”, “in medical school”, “going to medical school to be a doctor”, “Dr classes”, “offered doctor job” ?

  26. Whats up this is kind of of off topic but I was wanting to know if blogs use WYSIWYG
    editors or if you have to manually code with HTML. I’m starting a blog soon but
    have no coding experience so I wanted to get advice from someone
    with experience. Any help would be enormously appreciated!

  27. Lol. Dr? I work with a lot of “Dr’s” who put 1# weights on patient’s ankles and think they’re strengthening them. And 95% of the “Dr’s” I’ve worked with couldn’t design a strengthening program if their lives depended on it.

    It seems PT’s spend more time justifying their awesomeness than they do doing anything else. Entirely overeducated with far less practical expertise. But, hey, now they’re “Dr’s”.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s