The NPTE test, commonly known as the National Physical Therapy Examination, is a challenging and comprehensive assessment for men and women who wish to enter this rewarding and rapidly growing field of health care. The exam is developed by the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy in consultation with an expert team of test administrators.
The NPTE exam consists of 250 multiple-choice questions, which must be answered within five hours. The exam administration does include a break in the middle. Fifty of the questions on the test are pretest questions, which are used to develop future versions of the exam. These questions are impossible to identify but do not contribute to the final score.
The NPTE test is broken down into four content areas: clinical application of foundational sciences (29 items, 14.5 percent of the exam); examination/foundations for evaluation, differential diagnosis, and prognosis (73 items, 36.5 percent); interventions, equipment/devices, and therapeutic modalities (59 items, 29.5 percent); and safety, protection, professional roles, teaching, learning, research, and evidence-based practice (39 items, 19.5 percent).
The exam scores are based on the number of questions answered correctly. There is no distinction between unanswered questions and those answered incorrectly, so candidates are advised to guess when they do not know the answer. The exam scores are delivered directly to the licensing authority, which in turn distributes them to candidates. The raw score (the number of questions answered correctly) is converted to a scale ranging from 200 to 800, taking into account the relative difficulty of the NPTE test version. The minimum passing scaled score is 600.
NPTE Practice Questions
1. A physical therapist is working in a pediatric clinic and a 25 year-old mother comes in with a 12 week-old baby for initial evaluation. The mother is stress out about loss of sleep and the baby exhibits signs of colic. Which of the following techniques should the physical therapist teach the mother?
A: Distraction of the infant with a red object
B: Prone positioning techniques
C: Tapping reflex techniques
D: Neural warmth techniques
2. A physical therapist is working in a pediatric clinic and a mother brings in her 13 month old child who has Down Syndrome. The mother reports, “My child’s muscles feel weak and he isn’t moving well. My RN friend check his reflexes and she said they are diminished.” Which of the following actions should the physical therapist take first?
A: Contact the physician immediately
B: Have the patient go to X-ray for a c-spine work-up.
C: Start an IV on the patient
D: Position the child’s neck in a neutral position
3. A physical therapist is reviewing a patient’s arterial blood gas values. Which of the following conditions apply under the following values?
Bicarbonate ion 24 mEq/dl
PaCO2 – 31 mmHg
PaO2 – 52 mmHg
FiO2 – .22
A: respiratory acidosis
B: respiratory alkalosis
C: metabolic acidosis
D: metabolic alkalosis
4. A 29 year-old male has a diagnosis of AIDS. The patient has had a two year history of AIDS. The most like cognitive deficits include which of the following?
B: Sensory changes
C: Inability to produce sound
D: Hearing deficits
5. A patient has been admitted to the hospital with a HNP L4-5 segment diagnosis. After 24 hours the patient is able to ambulate with assistance with reduced muscle spasms. Which of the following medications was the most beneficial in changing the patient’s mobility status?
1. (D) Neural warmth will help to lower the baby’s agitation level.
2. (D) An atlanto-axial dislocation may have occurred. Position the child in a neutral c-spine posture and then contact the doctor immediately.
3. (B) Elevated pH and low CO2 level indicate respiratory alkalosis, no compensation is noted.
4. (A) Cognitive changes may include confusion and disorientation.
5. (D) Flexeril is a muscle relaxant for acute muscle pain and spasms.
Physical Therapy Salary
The job of a physical therapist is to assist patients in using exercise and rehabilitation techniques to treat injuries. A certain level of pain management and assistance in mobility is used to help patients develop healthy lifestyles.
For anyone considering a profession in physical therapy, the first thing to know is that it is a very intense process. Students who are interested in this field should take courses in college that focus on anatomy, physics, psychology, biology and chemistry, statistics, and English and the humanities.
A strong background in math and science is suggested as well as any type of volunteerism in the field. This voluntary experience helps in the application process to graduate school. There is a lot of competition when applying to graduate school. First off, a physical therapy program must be approved by the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), which is a rigorous process. According to the APTA, in 2011, there were only nine accredited master programs and 203 doctoral programs. A full-time master’s program (MPT, MSPT, MS) should take about two years to complete, and the full-time doctorate degree (DPT) usually takes about three years to complete. At this point, the student gets more advanced training in anatomy, biology, and physiology. Students also receive clinical experience under the guidance of a licensed professional. After graduate school, the student is subject to at least 1,500 hours of residency within three years of completing the program. At this point in the student’s career, he or she has the opportunity to experience specialties or participate in medical research. Physical therapy specialties may be in sports, neurology, geriatrics, or orthopedics.
Once the formalized education and experience is completed, state licensure is required. Each state varies by candidate requirements, although most do require a minimum of a graduate degree from an accredited physical therapy program and issue a state-administered exam of their own to certify knowledge in the field. The Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy (www.fsbpt.org) administers the National Physical Therapy Examination, which tests competency in theory, practice, and consultation.
Once licensure is attained, continuing education credits are required to continue to practice. For those students interested in practicing in a specialty, an additional certification is required. The American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties (ABPTS) issues a test for those licensed physical therapists who have had at least 2,000 of hours in a specialty. The specialty license must be renewed every 10 years through continuing education credits.
According to Payscale.com, the national physical therapy salary range is between $49,000 and $81,000 a year. Many physical therapists report earnings that include bonuses and profit sharing. Nearly 66 percent of people in the profession are female. The top earnings of $90,000 are awarded to those people with bachelor of science degrees in physical therapy. The top industries for physical therapists are health care, rehabilitation, hospital settings, and home health care. Top employers are Athletico, Ltd., Physiotherapy & Associates, Genesis Rehabilitation Services, Gentiva Health, and Healthsouth Rehabilitation Hospital. Of these employers, Gentiva paid the most, with tops salaries of $92,000. The top cities with the highest salaries tend to be in Reading, Pennsylvania; Silver Spring, Maryland; San Jose and Los Angeles, California; Fort Worth, Texas; and Edison, New Jersey. Many people in this profession choose to expand their careers as physical therapy managers, physical therapy directors, or physical therapy clinical directors. As this profession continues to grow, job opportunities will be available for the pediatric physical therapist, licensed physical therapist (LPT), and the senior physical therapist.
There are many networking channels the physical therapist can use to stay connected with the latest trends in the industry. Websites such as www.physicaltherapist.com, www.RehabEdge.com, and www.MyPhysicalTherapySpace.com provide education, newsletters, and articles to assist professionals in their jobs. It may also be helpful to check out the Physical Therapy State Associations (http://www.physicaltherapist.com/resources/associations) and American Physical Therapy Association (http://www.physicaltherapist.com/resources/associations) links to find jobs, clinics, discussion boards, education, and resources.