Barbara (Basia) Bujak, PT, DPT, PhD and Leigh Ann Lechanski, PT, DPT
Physical Therapists have a long proud history in the Army, evolving from the reconstruction aides of World War I to today’s doctorate-trained independent providers. Starting as a 120-day training program at Walter Reed General Hospital, all physical therapy programs have now been nationally accredited to produce graduates at the doctoral level since 2016. These programs include the continually top-ranked US Army-Baylor University Doctoral Program in Physical Therapy, which has graduated over 300 Doctors of Physical Therapy (DPTs) since 2006. As autonomous providers who independently order imaging, prescribe medications, generate consults and issue profiles, DPTs safely, and effectively evaluate and treat neuromusculoskeletal conditions without a physician referral. This direct access care provided by military DPTs in garrison and deployed environments, maximizes military readiness, reduces medical evacuations from combat theaters, and decreases limited duty times.
Army DPTs operate in multiple settings to include Military Treatment Facilities (MTFs), Forces Command (FORSCOM), Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC), Army Futures Command (AFC) and Special Operations Command (SOCOM) units. These clinicians also support numerous research, teaching, and administrative roles throughout the Army and Department of Defense. Army Physical Therapy forms a critical component of the new Holistic Health and Fitness (H2F) System, the Army’s primary means for achieving Soldier readiness and lethality. This program will add teams of Physical Therapists, Occupational Therapists, Dietitians, Athletic Trainers, Strength Coaches and Cognitive Enhancement Specialists to 110 brigades over the next 10 years. These programs facilitate optimized physical and non-physical performance, reduced injury rates, improved rehabilitation after injury, and increased overall effectiveness of the Total Army.
Army Physical Therapists maintain and increase readiness by educating other medical providers, Soldiers, and leaders by promoting injury-prevention best practices, evaluating and treating musculoskeletal injuries, and returning Soldiers to full function as rapidly as possible. In these ways, Army Doctors of Physical Therapy ensure the Army is ready to fight and win our nation’s wars.
Army Physical Therapists today are composed of graduates of the US Army Baylor University Doctorate of Physical Therapy Program, graduates of the US Army Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) Educational Delay Program that train at civilian physical therapy programs, direct commission officers that are civilians already licensed as Physical Therapists, and Department of the Army Government Service (GS) Civilians.
Army Baylor DPT Program:
Army Reserve Officer Training Corps Program:
Army Medicine Recruiting- Direct Commission (Contact a Recruiter):
Government Service – Department of the Army (Job Listing and Qualifications)
Air Force Service
Air Force physical therapists use state-of-the-art
Navy physical therapists are members of the U.S. Navy
Public Health Service
The Commissioned Corps of the US Public Health Service
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is responsible