Alphabet Soup - What do all of those letters mean??

The medical profession is filled up with a variety of different letters:  PT, DPT, MD, DO, DC, WCS, certified, board certified....  All of those letters might instill a sense of confidence.  Or just confuse you.

I am as guilty as anyone for 'collecting' letters.  Sandy Hilton actually tells me I need a QR code for all of them (she is exaggerating just to irk me).  Some people collect letters as a symbol of accomplishment, some to make themselves more marketable.  Regardless of the letters after anyone's name, we have to remember those letters do not make that person a great clinician.

These letters can help a patient find a practitioner who specializes in something specific.  People 'earn' letters by completing advanced degrees, undergoing a written or practical test, or completing other advanced training.  But other times those letters may just translate into someone who has jumped through appropriate hoops and paid the necessary fees.

The whole purpose of this post is to just encourage patients, consumers and practitioners to consider what those letters mean.  Look them up, or ask the person who has the letters what they mean.  But then ask them what they had to do to get them.  Decide if those letters impress you as much after you know what they mean.


Thanks for listening :-)

Sarah J. Haag, PT, DPT, MS, WCS, Cert. MDT


PT=Physical Therapist (licensed physical therapist)

DPT= Doctor of Physical Therapy (professional degree, 2 or 3 additional years of schooling)

MS = Master of Science (in women's health, back to school again!)

WCS = Women's Health Certified Specialist (Board Certified Specialist in Women's Health Physical Therapy through the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties)

Cert. MDT = Certified in the Mechanical Diagnosis and Therapy through the McKenzie Institute