OC Sports & Rehab

What Type of Doctors Work at a Physical Therapy Clinic?

When patients come into our Foothill Ranch Physical Therapy clinic, they often ask about each staff member’s title and educational background. These are excellent questions, and patients have a right to know about the staff members working on them. They’re curious to know about the differences between different positions, and it’s important for clinics to be transparent about this information.

Typically, a clinic will have one or more Doctors of Physical Therapy (DPTs). These are the staff members who can evaluate your injury, diagnose your condition, and create a plan of care for you. Depending on the size of the clinic and the volume of patients seen each day, there may be more or less DPTs on staff. DPTs are extremely well-versed in anatomy and physiology, specifically, the musculoskeletal and nervous systems, educated in performing special orthopedic tests and, nowadays, are trained to read and interpret your diagnostic images, such as MRIs and x-rays. DPTs possess a 4-year bachelor’s degree, as well as their clinical doctorate in physical therapy, and have passed the national licensure exam. While those with Masters or Bachelor’s in physical therapy are still able to practice as long as they’re still licensed, DPTs are now the gold standard in today’s world.

What Are the Different Type of Support Staff at Physical Therapy Clinics?

Many clinics also employ Physical Therapist Assistants (PTAs). These PTAs are also licensed staff members, having graduated from a 2-year associate’s program, typically at a community or career college. They do not require a 4-year bachelor’s, however many do possess one. For the most part, PTAs are just as well-versed in anatomy and physiology, therapeutic modalities, and therapeutic exercises. They can perform all of the same manual therapy a DPT can. They can address your concerns, measure your progress, and alter the plan of care if need be. They aren’t typically trained in how to read your diagnostic images, but they can often interpret the written results. They are well-rounded and educated staff that shouldn’t be discounted or ignored.

Finally, there are aides/technicians/and interns found in most clinics. These staff members are often non-licensed staff, and typically only help with duties such as cleaning, set-up and removal of modalities. They fold laundry, clean tables and equipment, and help keep the clinic run as efficiently as possible. Some clinics also have aides help out with clerical duties such as answering phones, scheduling patients, and collecting co-pays. They can take patients through an exercise program and assist them throughout the visit. These staff members often work a little bit with each patient who walks through the door, and they often desire to have a future career in physical therapy. While they aren’t able to do much, they’re typically willing and eager to be as helpful as they can be, while doing a lot of the less glamorous tasks that keep the clinic running smoothly.

Let’s not forget about the front desk and back office staff. These are the employees who will schedule your appointments, collect your payments, verify your insurance, answer the phones, handle billing questions, and serve as a liaison between you and your doctor’s office to coordinate referrals and authorizations. They are the first face you see when you walk in and the last one you see when you leave for the day. They are the voice you hear whenever you call the office, and serve as the gatekeeper that keeps everything in order. They are absolutely vital to a physical therapy clinic’s relationship with patients, the public, and the doctor’s offices.

In short, it takes a village to keep this ship sailing smoothly. Without everyone doing their individual parts to the best of their ability, most clinics would not be successful. There are too many moving parts for one person to handle. So, appreciate and acknowledge the staff members around you. We love to be there for our patients and want to provide you with the best care possible. We work together as a cohesive team to do just that. Ask us about our backgrounds. Ask questions about your treatment plan. You have a right to do so, and we want to help you every step of the way. As always, please read our website for more information about the services we offer. For more information about our wonderful physical therapy staff members, be sure to check out the staff tab on our website as well. Give us a call to schedule your appointment today and any of our physical therapy locations. We hope to see you very soon!