Colleges for physical therapy

colleges for physical therapy

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1) What Types of Physical Therapy Programs Exist and What Are They Called?

There are two distinct career tracks in physical therapy: physical therapy and physical therapy assistant. Here are the different degree programs available:

  • Associate of Arts (A.A.) in Physical Therapy Assisting
  • Associate of Science (A.S) in Physical Therapy Assisting
  • Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) in Physical Therapy Assisting

    Associate’s programs that have been nationally accredited share many of the same characteristics. You can expect four to five semesters of study, including general education courses such as college math, human growth and development, anatomy and physiology, and English. The program will also include at least 30 hours of physical therapy courses as well as clinical experiences.

  • Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) The Doctor of Physical Therapy degree is overwhelmingly the degree of choice in America. In fact, beginning in 2015, CAPTE, the national accreditation organization, will no longer recognize entry-level master’s programs. As of summer 2010, the Doctor of Physical Therapy is awarded by 203 of the 212 nationally accredited programs. However, a master’s is not required for admission, just a bachelor’s degree plus certain prerequisites. Both the DPT and the MPT are recognized as the “first professional degree” in physical therapy.

    The DPT program takes seven or eight semesters and includes between 24 and 36 weeks of a combination of clinical experience and an official internship. The classes include gross anatomy, human development, therapeutic exercise, health and wellness, therapeutic modalities, and specialties within physical therapy.

  • Master of Physical Therapy (MPT) This master’s degree, awarded by nine accredited institutions in America, prepares candidates to sit for the Physical Therapy licensure exam through a combination of classes in practice management, therapeutic interventions, anatomy, and clinical practice. This degree typically takes two and a half to three years of full-time study, including summer school. Students usually get between 20 and 30 weeks in clinical internships.

    Physical Therapy School Rankings

    There is no one place to go to find out the best physical therapy schools in the United States. You will have to do a certain amount of reserach to discover the best school for you. However, there are some important guidelines you must follow.

    The Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE) is the only physical therapy school accreditation group that is formally recognized by the US Department of Education (USDE) and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). CAPTE grants accreditation to entry-level physical therapy and physical therapy assistant programs. You must have a degree from a CAPTE-accredited school in order to take the Physical Therapy licensure exam in te United States.

    CAPTE has a set of uniform standards that all accredited schools must meet. Therefore, it does not rank physical therapy schools. You can be confident that by attending a CAPTE-accredited school, you will be getting the proper preparation for a career in physical therapy. Other factors to consider are cost, length of program, location, types of clinical placements available. CAPTE does not award accreditation to online or distance learning physical therapy programs.

    Transferring Physical Therapy School Credits

    When you decide to pursue a program in physical therapy, you need to be aware that some schools will not transfer credits from another school. However, since all accredited physical therapy programs are accredited by the same organization, the chances are greater that you will be able to transfer credits, provided they are both from accredited schools.

    Even then, it is up to the individual school. Some programs may have a greater concentration of classes in certain areas of specialization. Community colleges and others that award the associate’s degree are more likely to accept transfer credits.

    What Careers are Common for Students With This Degree?

  • Physical Therapist A physical therapist helps people who have physical limitations that have affected their daily lives. These people might have birth defects, a health condition, or an injury that prevents them from moving normally. Physical therapists work with people of all ages.

    Through communication with doctors and after examining a person’s individual needs, the therapist develops a treatment plan designed to ease pain and help the individual restore function. Physical therapists also help prevent conditions that may be associated with loss of mobility such as muscle atrophy or weakness. They design exercise programs to keep clients healthy even if they have difficulty moving

    around. They also teach patients how to use adaptive devices, such as walkers, crutches, canes, and wheelchairs.

    A physical therapist might work in a hospital, clinic, nursing home, rehabilitation center, school, or sports facility. In order to become a licensed physical therapist, the minimum educational requirement is a master’s degree.

  • Physical Therapist Assistant A physical therapist assistant, or PTA, performs physical therapy service only under the guidance of a licensed physical therapist. Assistants are not in charge of designing care programs. PTAs must complete a two-year college program including field experience in order to sit for the physical therapist assistant exam.

    How to Become a Physical Therapist

    Most people get a degree in physical therapy with the intent of becoming a physical therapist. What exactly goes into becoming a physical therapist?

    In order to apply for a Doctor of Physical Therapy or a Master of Physical Therapy degree, you will need a bachelor’s degree. Your bachelor’s degree should be in a field that allows you to take prerequisite courses such as laboratory science, anatomy and physiology, and calculus without having to stray too far from your degree plan. It is expected that you will have at the very minimum a 3.0 in your last 60 hours of your undergraduate degree. In addition, many competitive schools require that you show proof of 20 or more hours of volunteer work in a field that exposes you to the work of a physical therapist, such as a hospital volunteer.

    After you have been accepted for a physical therapy program, you will spend the next four years in intense study and clinical practice. Upon graduation, you will be eligible to take the licensing exam which is administered by the national physical therapy board. You will not be allowed to practice physical therapy without a license in any state.

    Many people wonder if the associate’s program in physical therapy assisting is a good “stepping stone” to the master’s or doctorate degree. The answer is no. In fact, there is only one accredited college that offers a “bridge” program for a student currently practicing as a PTA to upgrade their degree to a PT degree.

    What are the average salaries for a person with a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree?

    In 2009, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, salaries ranged from $52,000 in the 10th percentile to over $100,000 in the 90th percentile. The mean, or average, salary was $74,480. Physical therapists working in home health care averaged slightly higher at $83,500. However, these workers are required to travel quite a bit as part of their work, so the extra salary could be considered a travel expense allowance.

    While the field is competitive, it is also in demand and is expected to keep growing. The current unemployment rate for PTs is under 1%, while the national average is 9%. Factors that affect wages include geographic location (higher cost of living areas will pay more, but it won’t matter), years of experience, and type of physical therapy specialization. Physical therapists can specialize in cardiopulmonary therapy, working with geriatric patients, orthopedic therapy, sports medicine, or pediatric therapy, for example.

    Physical Therapy Scholarships and Grants

    There are many physical therapy scholarships and grants available to qualified students. This is by no means a comprehensive list of scholarships, but the links here are a good place for you to start looking. Don’t forget to fill out your FAFSA so you can be eligible for federal loans and grants.

    • Indian Health Service (IHS) Loan Repayment Program This program awards money to qualifying physical therapists who agree to serve at an HIS facility.
    • International Order of the King’s Daughters and Sons This organization based in the United States and Canada offers a Health Careers Scholarship of $1,000.
    • The Association of Schools of Allied Health Professions This organization offers two different merit scholarships that are designated for students in health fields including physical therapy.
    • AMBUCS AMBUCS awards $150,000 in scholarships every year to students in physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, and audiology.
    • Gary L Soderberg Doctor of Physical Therapy Award
    This scholarship is available to physical therapy students in their last year of study.
  • The Tylenol Scholarship Fund Tylenol awards 170 scholarships each year to students preparing to enter a health care profession.
  • Minority Scholarships APTA provides this list of physical therapy scholarships and related links that would be of interest to minority students.
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