If you’re a prospective student that’s considering a change in careers towards physical therapy, then it’s time to begin evaluating all of the PT schools which are out there. It’s crucial that you know your choices, and how to make an educated decision between them. In this way, you’ll give yourself a leg up, and find a PT school which is a perfect match for your own needs, desires and preferences, ensuring you begin your new career successfully.
Before comparing PT schools directly from one to another, the first step is to view an overall picture of what kinds of programs are available these days. Physical therapy is offered at the post graduation, or secondary degree level, and therefore a bachelors degree will be required beforehand. This is the case for all programs except for those which offer a combined bachelors and secondary degree track.
There are currently 212 accredited physical therapy programs in the United States, and there are more PT schools opening their doors each and every year. Accreditation is provided by CAPTE, the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education, and any program you attend must have this accreditation to ensure you will be able to gain your full licensure after graduation.
The vast majority of PT schools right now offer a doctoral degree, known as a DPT, Doctorate of Physical Therapy. There are just a handful of programs which offer an MPT degree, and by 2015, every PT school in the country will be forced to offer only DPTs.
At this point, you can see that you have some 200 choices, you need to look for CAPTE accreditation, and the doctoral degree is far and away the best and most commonly available choice. But what else do you need to know in order to choose the best PT school for you?
One very important consideration for you should be the types of clinical opportunities and work partnership programs which are available. The standard rule is that about 20% of a DPT program is dedicated to clinical work, and when it comes time for you to complete this, you want to be working in great settings and environments, with all of the best equipment, and so forth. Evaluating what a school is able to provide in this regard will be a crucial factor to consider.
From there, you’ll also want to be able to have doors opened for you in terms of future work opportunities outside of school. A lot of this may come down to location, or the prestige of the university, as well as whatever local partnerships they have acquired. Having professors who are active in the field and well renowned, and having job placement and assistance services can all make a difference for you as you’re trying to get started upon graduation.
As with any educational program, you must consider cost when choosing between PT schools. As of 2008, a public in-state PT school had mean tuition and fee rates of $11,410 per year. Meanwhile, public out of state schools were up to $21,684, and private schools were at $25,364. The difference in cost can be great, and therefore it will be a very important point for you when choosing which program to apply to and enroll with.
Of course, there are many other factors to consider as well. Think about the number of students and the demographics of those students, as well as faculty to student ratios. Look at potential financial aid, licensure pass rates and more, and you’ll be able to find the perfect PT school for you.