Pre-Physical Therapy

Pre-Physical Therapy

Physical therapists are in demand in a wide variety of settings today—from medical centers and retirement communities to commercial health clubs and university athletic departments. Pre-health advisers, admission directors and faculty agree that developing a strong foundation in the natural and social sciences as part of a well-rounded liberal arts education is the best preparation for a graduate program in physical therapy (PT).

Central students are successful in securing acceptance into PT programs with the assistance of an on-campus pre-health adviser, an internship coordinator and academic advisers. Central’s pre-professional program prepares you to pursue physical therapy education in graduate school. With the help of your adviser, you will choose a major that best prepares you for further study.

The Real World


Successful Careers

  • Physical therapist,  Accelerated Rehabilitation Center, West Des Moines
  • Owner, Total Rehab Orthopedic & Sports Specialist, Grinnell and Williamsburg
  • Physical therapist assistant, Greene County Medical Center, Jefferson
  • Physical therapist, 21st Century Rehab, Grimes


  • Tri-Beta (national biological sciences honor society)
  • Health Professions Club
  • CAAT (athletic training club)
  • SCATE (Students Concerned About The Environment)
Central College student

Graduate Placement

  • Creighton University
  • Des Moines University
  • Duke University
  • St. Ambrose University
  • University of Iowa
  • Washington University in St. Louis
  • Iowa State University


  • Athletico Physical Therapy, Chicago, Ill.
  • Pella Regional Health Center, Pella
  • Henry County Health Center, Mount Pleasant
  • Sterling Physical Therapy, Pella
  • Work Systems Rehabilitation and Fitness, Pella

Courses & Faculty

Students can choose to major in any discipline that fits their personal and professional life goals. Regardless of their major choice, students are required to successfully complete a series of courses in many different disciplines. Students must complete varying credit hours in biology, chemistry, physics, statistics, psychology and English.

Physical therapy students are also required to complete an experience in the PT clinical setting and pass the Graduate Record Exam.

The Central College Career Center provides the following activities to help pre-health students narrow career options: individual appointments to identify career options in the health field, job shadowing opportunities with local professionals or Central alumni, assistance with finding and applying for internships and summer opportunities, help with graduate school applications and much more.

Meet the faculty:

Anya Butt, B.A., M.S., Ph.D. Professor of Biology, interest areas include: geospatial technologies and applications, water resources, geosciences, natural disaster resilience and global health

Cathy Haustein, B.A., M.F.A., Ph.D. Professor of Chemistry, interest areas include: analytical chemistry, inorganic chemistry instrumental analysis, the extraction of alkaloids from natural products, fluorescence spectroscopy and fiction writing

Paulina Mena, B.S., Ph.D. Associate Professor of Biology, interest areas include: understanding how organisms adapt to their environment and what role their chromosomal architecture plays in that process

Nicole Palenske, B.S., M.S., Ph.D. Associate Professor of Biology, interest areas include: human anatomy and physiology, environmental physiology and aquatic toxicology

David Pavlat, B.S., M.S., Ed.D. Associate Professor of Exercise Science, interest areas include: physiology, kinesiology

John Roslien, B.S., M.S. Associate Professor Exercise Science, interest areas include: professional leadership

Jim Shriver, B.S., M.S., Ph.D. Professor of Chemistry, interest areas include: synthetic organic chemistry, molecular engineering and design, supramolecular chemistry and anion binding

The Central Difference

Individualized Attention

Thanks to Central's small class and laboratory sizes, faculty are able to provide each student with individualized attention and the opportunity to develop skills necessary for graduate school. Our faculty members also provide personalized advising that ensures you meet the coursework requirements for graduate school. And to help you get into graduate school, faculty provide letters of recommendation that make a vital difference in the decision process for acceptance into medical programs.

Central's Health Professions Club also provides mentoring, informs students about opportunities related to healthcare, and coordinates visits to and from various graduate programs. The club's faculty adviser also provides free workshops to address a range of interests, from career exploration to preparing for graduate entrance exams and application.

Heartland Global Health Consortium

Central College is a founding member of the Heartland Global Health Consortium whose mission is to establish and expand multidisciplinary educational, research and service opportunities to inspire and equip students to become leaders in global public health. The consortium provides additional opportunities for students to participate in educational, global research and global medical service experiences.

Hands-On Research

Central faculty provide students with many research and professional development opportunities, of which students are encouraged to take full advantage while on campus including undergraduate research and presentations at scientific meetings, internships, shadowing programs, targeted service-learning opportunities related to career goals and much more.

Study Abroad

Students are encouraged to study abroad with one of Central’s international programs to enhance their development as global citizens, or with partner programs in Chicago or Washington, D.C. Learn more about Central’s study abroad programs.

Learn More

Want to find out more about Pre-Physical Therapy at Central? Contact us to learn more about this major and our other strong academic programs. Visit campus to observe classes and experience The Central Difference firsthand.