Schools with Equine Physical Therapy Programs
Students interested in equine physical therapy may pursue a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree, which may include relevant training within the program. A few schools offer certificate, associate or bachelor's programs with specific training in equine physical therapy, though these are rare. State regulations vary for the practice of equine rehabilitation, medical practice and physical therapy.
How to Select an Equine Physical Therapy School
Many states define physical therapy as rehabilitation of a human subject, and licensed physical therapists may be authorized to provide the same services to animals under the supervision of a veterinarian. Students with a specific interest in equine physical therapy may find certificate or degree programs available. Requirements vary considerably, with some programs admitting only licensed veterinarians. Students should verify they meet eligibility requirements prior to enrollment.
Students with no prior postsecondary education may benefit from degree programs with clinical opportunities working directly with horses in a therapeutic or rehabilitative setting. Associate and bachelor's programs may also help to prepare students to advance to graduate-level studies or earn a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) degree. Students interested in becoming a veterinarian are encouraged to enroll in undergraduate programs designed for DVM preparation or schools that offer a DVM program.
State regulations vary in reference to the distinction between physical therapy and veterinary practices, and some states discern animal physical therapy as a separate area of study. Prior to enrolling in a program, students should check regulations and licensure requirements with the state boards of veterinary medical examiners or physical therapy to ensure necessary educational components are met. Non-profit organizations, such as the Animal Physical Therapy Special Interest Group may also offer professional and legal information for those interested in becoming an equine physical therapist.
Students interested in becoming veterinarians with equine physical therapy training may consider DVM programs that offer equine education tracks, schools with large animal clinical facilities or equine sports medicine opportunities. Equine physical therapy laboratories may also be available on the school or college's campus, and could be useful to students for clinical or internship experiences. Programs incorporating the use of MRI, CT, radiography and ultrasound technology could also be available for students interested in the use of such technology.
Equine Physical Therapy Program Overviews
Certificate in Equine Physical Therapy
Certificate programs in equine physical therapy may be available in certain states to veterinarians and physical therapists who wish to gain a specific knowledge of equine physical therapy techniques and practices. Coursework may focus on study of musculoskeletal systems, ligaments, tendons, the nervous system and hooves. Students may also learn to assess medical, therapeutic and surgical treatment methods.
Associate Degree in Equine Physical Therapy
Associate degree programs may be available in equine studies or equine exercise and could be completed in two years. Such programs include coursework in nutrition, medicine, rehabilitation, health care and injury treatment. Clinical experiences may be offered within the program at an affiliated clinic, veterinary office or animal hospital.
Bachelor's Degree in Equine Physical Therapy
A 4-year bachelor's program in equine physical therapy typically prepares students for admission to DVM programs. Coursework may include legal aspects of animal physical therapy, disease and injury prevention, techniques in rehabilitation, nutrition and medical assessment. Clinical experiences and internships may be required for graduation.
Doctor of Veterinary Medicine
Doctoral programs in veterinary medicine often provide sufficient training to practice equine physical therapy without any additional qualifications. Coursework commonly includes studies in nutrition, physiology, anatomy, diagnosis, treatment and radiology. A thesis may be required for graduation, as well as comprehensive research projects and clinical experiences.
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