Background and Purpose.
Professional (entry-level) education in physical therapy, as an enterprise distinct from, yet central to, the profession of physical therapy as a whole, has reached a level of maturity at which there is value in reviewing its development. The authors identify major elements of importance in professional education, including the nature and institutional setting of professional education programs, curriculum content and design, and characteristics of students and faculty. Major events and developments are highlighted for each major element.
Methods and Materials.
Information has been drawn from published materials dating from the 1910s through the end of the 20th century and from archival records maintained by individual professional education programs and professional organizations in or related to physical therapy. This information has been augmented by the authors' personal experience of professional education during the years from the 1940s through the end of the century.
Summary of the Literature.
Comprehensive reviews of professional education in physical therapy have been conducted at various points in time. Detailed analyses of different aspects of physical therapy education have been published throughout the 20th century. Comprehensive, but nonscholarly, histories of the profession of physical therapy, including discussions of events pertaining to professional education, also have been published, most recently in the mid 1990s.
The article provides an overview of the history of professional education in physical therapy.