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How do I Choose the Best Physical Therapy Schools?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 14 May 2018
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There are a number of things to consider when evaluating physical therapy schools to decide where to seek an education in physical therapy. It's important to select a school which will offer a high quality education while meeting the individual needs of the student, and taking time to research physical therapy schools will pay off in the long term. People should definitely plan on taking time to visit schools they are interested in to see the campus, sit in on classes, and get a feel for the school before making a final decision.

The first thing to do when looking for a school to attend is to obtain a list of accredited physical therapy schools. The schools should be accredited both by independent accrediting agencies and professional organizations of physical therapists. Lists of accredited schools are available for accrediting agencies. Going to a school which is not accredited may mean that a student cannot get certified as a physical therapist, or that a student will have a hard time finding a job. People should also determine whether they want a master's degree in physical therapy, or a doctorate degree as not all schools offer both and this can help narrow down the list of options.

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Another consideration is an area of interest. If a potential physical therapist knows that he or she wants to work with a particular group of patients such as children, athletes, or stroke patients, he or she may want to find a school which offers special training in this area, along with lab hours which will give the student time to work with patients he or she is interested in. Students should also ensure that the staff in the school are highly qualified, looking for schools with well-trained staffs who have recently published in academic journals or trade publications.

Entrance and graduation requirements for physical therapy schools can also be important. Students should not bother applying to programs which they are not qualified to attend, and they should not attend programs which will allow them to graduate without fulfilling the training requirements set out by certifying organizations. If a certifying organization requires X number of lab hours, for example, and the student can only access a lesser number of lab hours, he or she will not be able to get certified.

Some other things to think about when looking at physical therapy schools are more on the personal level; a student needs to find a school where he or she feels comfortable, because this will increase the chances of completing the program. Schedule can be a very important consideration, as a school with an inflexible or limited schedule may be difficult for some students, and location is also important. Students should consider where they are willing to live and think about cost of living issues when looking at schools. Another consideration is job placement; if a school offers employment assistance, it can help students start work right away after graduation.

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