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How do I Choose the Best Physical Therapist School?

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  • Written By: Sandra Koehler
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 20 October 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
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    Conjecture Corporation
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A career in physical therapy can offer you job security and career advancement while giving you the flexibility needed in today’s society. But how do you go about finding the right physical therapist school? The first thing you need to consider is your career plan.

A degree from a physical therapist school can range from an associated degree to a doctorate degree. The associate degree program allows you to enter the physical therapy allied health specialty field as a physical therapist assistant, or PTA. A PTA can carry out treatment plans under supervision of a physical therapist, or PT.

PTs, on the other hand, are required to obtain a post baccalaureate degree. A master’s degree, MPT or MSPT, requires a prerequisite of at least three years of undergrad classes and a bachelor’s degree in physical therapy followed by a two-year long master’s program. A doctorate degree, or DPT, the recommended level of higher education as changing laws are requiring entry-level PTs to possess a doctorate degree, requires an additional year after the master’s program, but will increase the number of opportunities available upon completion.

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When choosing a physical therapist school, there several things you need to consider. Some schools allow admittance into the PT program at an undergrad level, while others require the completion of your undergrad work. Many require volunteer work in the physical therapy field, general community service volunteer work and letters of recommendation from licensed physical therapists to be considered for a physical therapy program.

Any physical therapist school must be accredited to allow you to sit for the required licensure examination after graduation. Both the PT and the PTA must obtain licensure before being able to work. An accredited physical therapist school has a program which has undergone extensive review by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education, also known as CAPTE accreditation. This accreditation ensures the quality of educational courses and that of the instructors. The American Physical Therapy Association, or the APTA, can provide you with an up-to-date listing of CAPTA accredited physical therapist schools.

Currently, there are close to 500 accredited or developing, meaning schools moving towards accreditation, for the physical therapist or physical therapist assistant in the United States. Many questions regarding physical therapist schools can be answered by contacting the APTA or by contacting the school you are considering. Since competition is high, it is best to do your homework before choosing the physical therapist school that suits your needs.

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