It is important that you look into physical therapy programs by state rather than by any other criterion as there are subtly different requirements for physical therapists in different states. By attending a program in the state where you would ideally like to work as a physical therapist you are dramatically improving your chances of selecting a program that will automatically prepare you to meet all of the requirements necessary in that state. Programs must be approved and they must have a good reputation to avoid wasting your time and money.
What Do Physical Therapists Do?
Physical therapists are active in assisting patients who have suffered a bad injury or who have come through a serious illness recover to the best of their ability. They:
- Help patients regain or preserve mobility and strength
- Help patients relieve pain
- Help patients prevent long-term disability
As a physical therapist you will be required to be an expert in the mechanics of the human body and know exactly how the various muscles and joints work. Before you can correct problems in mobility and functioning, you first need to understand that functioning and everything related to it.
How To Choose The Best Physical Therapist School
Your choice of school should be based on the following basic criteria:
- Accreditation: if the school is not accredited you will be wasting your time and your money
- Tuition and financial assistance
- Time to Graduation
- Career goals and focus
- Graduate success: schools that have had a large number of successful graduates in the past who are now working as physical therapists are better options
- Graduation rate
- Practical experience/internships
- Class size
- Clinical rotation of internships: clinical practice is essential and you would be better off selecting a school that provides more hands-on experience
What’s Required To Become A Physical Therapist?
The basic requirements are as follows:
- You must have a two-year master’s degree OR a three-year professional doctorate degree in physical therapy
- This must be from a college or university that is accredited by the American Physical Therapy Association’s (APTA) Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE)
Most physical therapy programs in most states will lean towards offering doctorate rather than master’s degrees in physical therapy as this is by far the more useful qualification for physical therapists to hold. In some states voluntary work experience is needed and you also must ensure that any school you attend is accredited.
Online Classes And Programs
It is possible to complete part of your physical therapy program online, but you simply cannot complete 100% of your training in this format. A program of this nature consists of two parts, the theoretical book learning and the practical hands-on training, both of which are equally essential in order to complete your program and become qualified. Clearly the practical aspect of the program cannot be completed online. Several on-campus programs offer online study options for the theory section, which can relieve the pressure that you are experiencing as online study is more convenient and often cheaper.
According to braintrack.com the following topics make up the coursework that you will be required to study:
- Biology, physics and chemistry
- Human growth and development
- Biomechanics and neuroanatomy
- Therapeutic procedures and examination techniques
- Manifestations of disease
- Areas of specialization
While still in high school it may help for you to take subjects related to physical therapy, including biology, physics, and chemistry. Although it is not necessary to specialize in a particular domain of physical therapy, the option is available and may increase the rate of pay that you will be eligible to earn.
Many students do not begin their physical therapy training simply because they do not have the funds necessary to pay for the degree. However there are a number of scholarship opportunities and sources for students interested in enrolling in a physical therapy program and these include the following:
- The American Physical Therapy Association
- The Association of Schools of Allied Health Professions
- The Tylenol Scholarship Fund
- The Texas Physical Therapy Association
- Your state’s physical therapy association
There are also governmental grants and loans that you may be eligible to apply for. To find out more, contact FAFSA.
There are a number of duties that are the duty of the physical therapist to perform and these duties will be comprehensively covered in your training program. As a physical therapist you will be required to establish treatment plans for patients according to the doctor’s prescription, combine different treatment modalities such as heat/cold therapy, electrical stimulation, ultrasound and exercise, teach patients how to use therapeutic devices, help patients to stretch and to exercise, apply traction, perform massages, and administer paraffin baths and other modalities, document the patient’s progress, and collaborate with other relevant health care professionals who are dealing with your patient or patients.
The Best Physical Therapy Programs By State
According to http://grad-schools.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-health-schools/physical-therapy-rankings the best physical therapy programs can be found in the following cities and states:
- University of Southern California located in Los Angeles, CA with a score of 4.3 out of 5
- University of Delaware located in Newark, DE with a score of 4.2 out of 5 out of 5
- University of Pittsburgh located in Pittsburgh, PA with a score of 4.1 out of 5
- Washington University in St. Louis located in St. Louis, MO with a score of 4.1 out of 5
- University of Iowa located in Iowa City, IA with a score of 3.9 out of 5
- US Army-Baylor University located in Fort Sam Houston, TX with a score of 3.9 out of 5
- Emory University located in Atlanta, GA with a score of 3.8 out of 5
- MGH Institute of Health Professions located in Boston, MA with a score of 3.8 out of 5
- Northwestern University located in Chicago, IL with a score of 3.7 out of 5
- University of Miami located in Coral Gables, FL with a score of 3.7 out of 5
- University of North Carolina located in Chapel Hill, NC with a score of 3.7 out of 5
- Marquette University located in Milwaukee, WI with a score of 3.6 out of 5
- University of Florida located in Gainesville, FL with a score of 3.6 out of 5
- Arcadia University located in Glenside, PA with a score of 3.5 out of 5
- University of Utah located in Salt Lake City, UT with a score of 3.5 out of 5
- Boston University located in Boston, MA with a score of 3.4 out of 5
- Creighton University located in Omaha, NE with a score of 3.4 out of 5
- University of Illinois located in Chicago, IL with a score of 3.4 out of 5
- Ohio State University located in Columbus, OH with a score of 3.3 out of 5
- University of Alabama located in Birmingham, AL with a score of 3.3 out of 5
- University of California located in San Francisco, CA with a score of 3.3 out of 5
- University of Kansas Medical Center located in Kansas City, KS with a score of 3.3 out of 5
- University of Maryland located in Baltimore, MD with a score of 3.3 out of 5
- University of Minnesota located in Minneapolis, MN with a score of 3.3 out of 5
- University of Wisconsin located in Madison, WI with a score of 3.3 out of 5
For specific physical therapy programs by state you should visit the following websites that have comprehensive information on the different programs available:
When you select a physical therapy program you ideally want to choose one that has a good reputation and that is well known for all of the right reasons. Here are some of the better schools for your consideration along with their contact details:
University of Southern California
Department of Biokinesiology and Physical Therapy
1540 Alcazar St.
Los Angeles, CA 90089
University of Pittsburgh
Department of Physical Therapy
4020 Forbes Tower
Pittsburgh, PA 15260
Washington University in St. Louis
4444 Forest Park Boulevard
St. Louis, MO 63108
Alabama State University
P.O. Box 271
Montgomery, AL 36101
Arkansas State University
Department of Physical Therapy
P.O. Box 910
Jonesboro, AR 72467
Sacred Heart University
5151 Park Ave.
Fairfield, CT 06825
City University of New York
Health Sciences Doctoral Programs
65 Fifth Ave., Room 3317
New York, NY 10016-4309
California State University, Fresno
Department of Physical Therapy
2345 E. San Ramon Ave.
Fresno, CA 93740-8031
Northern Arizona University
Building 66, Room 102
Flagstaff, AZ 86011
Selecting the right physical therapy programs by state is extremely important as this choice will inform the rest of your career.