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Becoming a Physical Therapist in Tennessee – TN

Healthcare is an ever-growing area of employment and the field of physical therapy is no exception.  Trends in 2009 have shown a steady rise in the number of physical therapists employed, according to Indeed.com.  The state of Tennessee currently employs approximately 3400 physical therapists, which accounts for 1.5% of the healthcare workers in the state. 


How to Become a Physical Therapist in Tennessee

The first step is education; an undergraduate degree in a science related field is a requirement. An undergraduate degree in a healthcare related field is required, along with a graduate physical therapy program.

Upon graduation, students are required to sit for a national examination.  The National Physical Therapy Examination is offered at testing centers nationwide and is administered through the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy.  It is a computer based multiple choice exam that is designed to test the knowledge of entry level candidates and to act as a measuring tool for competence in the field.    Upon completing the application to take the exam and paying the exam fee ($350), you will be sent information regarding scheduling your appointment at the testing center.  You may sit for the exam in any state, regardless of where you plan to practice as a physical therapist. 

Tennessee requires licensure for its physical therapists.  The Board of Physical Therapy, which is under the direction of the Tennessee Department of Health, oversees this process and sets the rules and regulations for maintaining as well as renewing a license.  The licensure application must be notarized and accompanied by the following information: passport size photo, application fee ($85 minimum), letter of recommendation, scores from the national exam, an exam history if your graduation date is greater than thirty days from your application date, official university transcripts (sent separately from the university), and proof of licensure previously in another state (if applicable).  Additionally a background check will be performed and further documents are required if you are a foreign or international student.   The application as well as more detailed information can be found at the Tennessee Department of Health’s website.

Step by Step on Becoming a Physical Therapist in Tennessee

  1.  Select an undergraduate institution that offers a pre-physical therapy program
  2. Select a graduate program for physical therapy
  3. Select a doctorate program 
  4. Apply for the National Physical Therapy Exam and provide the necessary supporting information and fees
  5. Successful completion of the above exam then leads to the licensure process
  6. Apply for licensure as a physical therapist in Tennessee and provide the necessary supporting information and fees
  7. Maintain licensure by complying with the established standards of care and continuing education requirements

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