Written by Pamela Robichaud, DPT and Koa Fit Super Star
Wait, you’re a doctor? I am! What does that mean? It means that I have a doctorate degree and have attained years of formal education. It means I can be the first point of entry in to the medical system. Allow me to explain.
Having my Doctorate of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree means that I completed a three-year graduate program in addition to my four-year Bachelors Degree. The doctorate degree incorporates many aspects of physical therapy and healthcare education; the most important one of which allows physical therapists to be the first point of entry in to the medical system. This means that we, as professionals with a professional association and governing body, have had sufficient education to evaluate and diagnosis a medical condition. Most importantly it means that we possess the knowledge to assess a condition and deem it within our scope of practice or not. Therefore, if someone presents to us for an evaluation and we are not able to make sense of their signs and symptoms or if certain red flags appear during the assessment, we are capable of referring that person to the next practitioner in the healthcare chain. Personally I find this one of the most comforting aspects of my chosen profession. Despite what we say, physical therapists cannot fix everyone and it’s important that we refer to colleagues outside of the profession to help when something is presenting outside of our scope of practice
Furthermore, in many states, including Colorado, physical therapists have Direct Access, which means that a physician’s referral is not required to see a physical therapist. However it should be noted that many insurance companies still require a referral for services to be reimbursed. This is a battle the physical therapy community and governing bodies will continue to fight.
In summary patients/clients can feel comfortable and safe knowing when a DPT is evaluating them they are receiving a complete multi-system examination.