Physical Therapy & Personal Training?

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S.D.N. Vet
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Mar 23, 2003
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This topic may or may not have been covered on this forum, but is it possible for an individual to be both a physical therapist (DPT) and a personal trainer (NSCA, NASM, ASCM, etc.)?

I am currently looking at changing careers to become a DPT, but would also like to deal with post-therapy services such as general fitness.

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Sure, why not? Good certifications to have, for sure, relevant topics to PT. Some of my classmates already have one of them, either from outside schooling or by extension from their exercise physiology majors.
Yes you can be a PT and trainer at the same time, why not?? I'm currently a trainer and finishing my DPT next year. I plan to keep most of my long time clients and work as a PT. I'll probably open my own rehabilitation/personal training clinic. Also, I had a co-worker who was a licensed PT but worked mostly as a trainer. Just remember that you are responsible to the highest degree/license that you possess. So your standard of care has to be that of a DPT even when you are personal training.
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Thanks for responding guys!

DPTinFL, you mentioned that you are currently a trainer. May I ask what made you want to pursue your DPT degree, instead of a graduate degree in a field such as Exercise Science?
Of course you can! I don't see why not. I can see someone making extra cash on the weekends has a personal trainer. And DPTinFL mentioned a really good issue...liability and all that jazz.
I think personal training is a good option to make extra money in a weekend. Fitness training has grown to be a highly lucrative business field.

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ONe thing to think about. If you are a PT then see your patients after discharge, there needs to be a bright white line between the two services. As a physical therapist you are held to a higher standard. Not to diminish a personal trainer because the good ones are very good, however, they are not expected to identify red flags that may have to do with other medical problems. PTs are.

There might be legal exposure if you do both. Before you do, I would speak with your liability insurance provider to be sure you are covered in both situations.
Personally, I would think it would make more sense to find another physical therapy position, Per Diem, for the weekends if you do have that extra time as you would be making more money then as personal trainer. I can not speak for all DPT programs but I can say that in my program we have extensive training in general fitness and concepts of personal training, difference being that we don't focus on the regular gym environment without any pathology, so a lot of clinicians and students may not be as creative in a non therapeutic sense and visa versa for a personal trainer in a therapeutic sense for an individual with functional limitation. You can theoretically work as both however when it comes to your patients remember that you are now looked at as their go to provider for their "functional limitations", so if you continue to train them past discharge while they pay out of pocket, their could be a lot of ethical issues you would deal with as well as them still holding that patient/therapist relationship with you. They will be asking you for "therapeutic advice", and as issues arise may expect you to treat them. Remember their is always a difference in training for performance and treating to restore function, and physical therapists are trained to do both! (Long post because this is something I am very interested in as well after I graduate from PT school). I am interested to hear any experiences from graduates who do practice both or offer maintenance/fitness programs in or out of the clinic for previous patients.
It can be a difficult decision to make on whether or not to use personal training. There are many reasons why personal training is a good option for everyone. They will help you to select the proper workout from which you will be benefited. Most local gyms offer a package to exercise at the gym along with a personal trainer.According to me a personal trainer is a must for atleast a beginner.