Choosing the top physical therapy schools is an important step for a student who wishes to become a physical therapist (PT). A PT helps patients with disabling conditions that have occurred either because of a medical condition or an accident. The therapist creates a rehabilitation plan for patients and helps them work on coordination, movement, balance, function, pain relief and overall fitness.
Before going through the top physical therapy schools, consider volunteering at a physical therapy facility to ensure thatyou are well-suited to this type of work. Also, physical therapy jobs take place in a variety of settings, such as hospitals, outpatient clinics, private clinics, rehabilitation centers, school systems, home health agencies, physician offices, nursing homes and adult day care centers. Choose an environment that sounds most appealing to test the waters. For instance, if you know you like working with the elderly, look into nursing homes or adult day care centers.
Volunteering is important because, in addition to defining a more specific career focus, you will establish relationships with PTs and other professionals who can serve as mentors during your education and training. Also, many of the top physical therapy schools require a letter of recommendation from a professional in the industry as part of the application packet. Having contacts in the field will put you one step ahead of the competition when it comes time to apply to the top physical therapy schools. Additionally, the fieldwork portions of physical therapy programs will require volunteering in physical therapy settings, so maintaining these contacts and relationships can make arranging the fieldwork much simpler.
After volunteering in a physical therapy environment, the next step to choosing the top physical therapy schools is to decide which degree you would like to receive. As this is a field that requires intensive medical training and instruction, either a master’s or doctorate degree is required. The doctorate degree requires more time but gives students a more focused area of study that will be followed carefully in each physical therapy course. Master’s programs usually take two years after undergraduate study, while doctorate’s degrees typically take at least three extra years.
After deciding on the degree to pursue, do some research on the top physical therapy schools that offer that particular degree. Consider such factors as location, size, tuition, competition and accreditation. If it helps, make a chart with these factors and their ideal components, then narrow down the top physical therapy schools to those that fit your requirements. Visit as many schools as possible and sit in on a physical therapy class. This will make the decision-making process much easier when it finally comes time to choose a school.