Direct Access

Direct Access

By Ryan Malm – CC’s Staff

On this frigid Monday, I would like to address a topic that has been asked quite a bit in our clinic recently regarding “direct access”.

In today’s world, the term “access” seems to carry with it a sense of exclusivity- such as getting clearance to see secret government files (show us the aliens in Area 51 already). However, in the world of physical therapy, it has quite the opposite meaning. “Direct access” is exactly what it sounds like: patients have direct access to physical therapy services. What this means is that patients do not need a physician referral or prescription to receive services from a PT. Often called “self-referral”, direct access allows you to refer yourself to physical therapy if you feel you have a problem that may benefit from treatment (might I suggest the awesome team here at CC’s).

That’s all fine and dandy Ryan, but why is this important to me, the patient?

Great question hypothetical patient. As we all know, healthcare is expensive. Unfortunately, each year more and more money is spent on healthcare without data supporting patients achieving better outcomes. A system that allows the patient to directly seek the services of a physical therapist can help save healthcare dollars by eliminating unnecessary tests or specialist referrals. Such a wide variety of conditions can be evaluated and treated without expensive diagnostic testing. Coming to see your PT directly allows you to start on treatment right away with very little risk of further injury. Overall, physical therapy is a very low-cost and value-packed healthcare service!

Imagine this: You woke up this morning with low back pain of unknown origin. If we didn’t have direct access you could possibly go through the following: Appointment with your doctor. Referral to an orthopedic or neurology specialist. Get an X-ray. Get an MRI. Prescribed medications. THEN a referral to physical therapy. Since we have direct access it could go something like this: wake up with low back pain. Call CC’s PT (701-751-0994) to schedule an appointment. And the coolest thing is that we treat headaches to heel pain, and every part of the body in between!

Ryan, what if it is something more serious though?

Another wonderful question. Physical therapists are educated and trained to recognize signs and symptoms that are outside the scope of our practice and are then able to refer patients to other providers who can provide appropriate care for the patient’s condition.


Appreciate you taking the time to read this blog and please contact us with any questions or future topics you would like us to discuss. And as always…Skol Vikings.

Ryan Malm, PT, DPT, ATC


Post Author: Ryan Malm

Ryan is a physical therapist by day, Netflix enthusiast by night. He loathes to discuss himself in the third person, but can be persuaded to do so from time to time


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