If you’ve made up your mind to become a physical therapist, it’s time to pick the right venue for your physical therapy education. Looking for physical therapy schools that offer a Graduate Degree program is important, but you need to make sure you have the right background to qualify. Clinical experience, even if it’s only as a volunteer, is a must, as is having your Undergraduate Degree. Depending on the type of Graduate Degree you pursue it is possible to take an Undergraduate Degree in an unrelated subject, but this entails additional challenges, and it will take longer to complete your Graduate Degree.
When deciding on a Graduate level physical therapy school keep the following in mind. Whatever school you attend must be accredited by the APTA (American Physical Therapy Association) or your degree will not allow you to attempt the licensing exams you’ll need to pass in order to practice. Use the APTA’s website at http://www.apta.org to make sure that any school you’re looking into is properly certified to grant you an accredited degree.
Once you get into a Graduate Degree program you’ll be dividing your time between theoretical studies, lab work, and supervised practice. The lab work and the clinical practice speak for themselves, but what kind of academic subjects can you expect to study during your Graduate Degree program? The following are common examples:
- Biology, Anatomy, Chemistry, Physics
- Human growth and development
- Diagnostic techniques
- Therapeutic procedures
In addition to these general subjects you can expect to study more specific courses that cover specialization specific information. Your specialization informs your choice of school as well, so that’s something to consider ahead of time.
Ultimately, the four major factors that affect your choice of physical therapy school to attend can be boiled down to the following:
Since the only way to qualify for your licensing exams is to have a degree from an APTA certified physical therapy schools, make sure you choose a legitimate University or College for your Graduate Degree.
Many physical therapy schools cater to all specializations, some do not. Look for a school that caters specifically to your chosen specialization.
Physical therapy schools that can offer immediate, on site clinical experience give their students a huge boost post graduation. Most top tier schools have training hospitals on their campuses, or nearby to facilitate this important step in a studying physical therapist’s development.
Scholarships and bursaries come from government bodies and organizations to be sure, but don’t overlook the possibility of getting financial assistance from the school you attend. It never hurts to pay less of your tuition costs yourself.
Deciding where to take your Graduate level physical therapy degree is one of the most important decisions you’ll make in the run up to becoming licensed to practice physical therapy as a trained professional. This decision will influence your future career, and either open the right doors, or shut them securely in your face. Choose wisely.