Physical therapy is one of the largest growing sectors of health and a popular career choice for those who want to help others. A physical therapist uses therapeutic techniques and manual therapy to help your joints, muscles, and bones to recuperate and strengthen without the need for surgery or medication. We’ve found the leading schools in the country that can help you get into this field and will show you exactly what you need to succeed.
Our bodies are our most important assets and when something goes wrong with them then we realize just how much we might have taken them for granted. Whether it’s illness, injury, or loss of strength, we can quickly regain whatever it is we have lost without the need for harsh drugs or invasive surgery, all thanks to physical therapy.
This unique form of therapy relies a lot on touch and allows us to use the strength of our own bodies in order to recover. A physical therapist is someone who knows exactly what areas of the body to work and how to do it effectively so that we can begin to mend ourselves.
Physical therapists are highly regarded and respected individuals in the field of health and many other professions look to them for assistance with their patients. Those who want to become a physical therapist will need to undergo years of training and education, so it’s essential to find the best physical therapy school to make your efforts all worthwhile.
We’ve rounded up some of the leading physical therapy schools in the country and also more information on how to get into this growing field. We can show you the salaries, future predictions, roles and responsibilities of a physical therapist so you can find out if this is the dream career you’ve been looking for.
What Is Physical Therapy?
The term ‘physical therapist’ can have different meanings in different parts of the world, but the purpose of physical therapy is always the same. This treatment focuses on the body and how it can be treated in order to relieve pain, reduce symptoms, and promote an overall feeling of wellness within.
Physical therapy involves a patient working alongside a therapist who understands what their needs are. This therapy can include everything from helping someone learning to walk again or working on an existing injury, with many different forms of treatment available.
The purpose of physical therapy is to try and treat the issues of the body so that people can restore or improve their body’s natural functions. The therapy will be beneficial for people who are disabled, have injuries, illnesses, or other disorders and environmental factors. Without resorting to surgery or medication, they aim to help their patients with their own touch and by showing them ways to improve for themselves.
The Role of A Physical Therapist
There are many different roles that a physical therapist will take and it depends on who they treat, where they practice, and how they practice. The goal of a physical therapist is to improve their patient’s quality of life by fixing existing conditions, and they work within the scope of rehabilitation, treatment, intervention, prevention, and promotion.
A physical therapist works on a long-term treatment plan rather than just a one-off visit to their office. Depending on the qualifications and training they receive, you can expect a physical therapist to do all of the following for their patients:
Assess the patient through examination and consult with other health professionals who might be involved in their care.
Evaluate the results of the assessment and make clinical judgments on the best treatment plan for them.
Consult with the patient and other health professionals involved in the care to agree on the plan moving forward.
Implement a program of physical training and therapy that may include stimulation and massage, stretching muscles, teaching exercise techniques, and using special devices and equipment to treat patients.
Assess the results of the treatment and make adjustments or recommendations as needed until the patient has regained their quality of life.
The Study Involved to Become A Physical Therapist
The role of the physical therapist is quite in depth, so there is a lot of study that comes with it. As a serious health professional, you can expect to dedicate years of study and hands-on training in order to become qualified.
Usually, you will need to have already completed a bachelor’s degree in order to be accepted for physical therapy school. This should include a majority of the subjects studied to include biology, physics, chemistry, anatomy, and physiology. Every physical therapy school will have their own unique requirements though, so be sure to check this before you enroll.
From there, you will be able to enroll in the physical therapy school of your choice as you have to complete a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree. These degrees take an additional three years to complete, and will also come with requirements for a clinical internship in either orthopedics or acute care.
Becoming Licensed As A Physical Therapist
All health professionals in the country must become licensed before they can practice which usually involves a series of exams and other checks. The thoroughness of the accreditation is for the sake of the patients so that they can see the professional they are working with is fully qualified and safe to use.
For physical therapists, the licensing requirements differ from state to state so you will need to check in your specific area. Every state requires that therapists become licensed and although slightly different, it will always require you to pass the National Physical Therapy Exam which is conducted by the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy.
This is a multiple choice exam that you will be given three chances to complete within 12 months, and if you aren’t able to pass it you have to wait for the following year to try again. In addition to this exam, there may be a requirement to get a national criminal check and a law exam, but it will depend on the state you are practicing in.
Career Demand in This Field
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, physical therapy is one of the fastest growing areas in the entire health industry. The employment of physical therapists is predicted to grow a massive 28 per cent between 2016 and 2026 which is far greater than others in the medical field.
People these days are looking for alternative forms of treatment that don’t involve medications or surgeries, and physical therapy can offer exactly that. If you’re looking to begin a career that is showing great demand in the future then this is certainly something you can rely on.
What’s important in getting yourself a good career in physical therapy is choosing the best school to attend, so there are quite a few things to consider. Where you study and the reputation of the educational institution will have a huge impact on your future career prospects so it needs to be taken seriously.
What to Ask Before Joining A Physical Therapy School
Many people just assume that they should join the school closest to them when considering a higher education, but this isn’t always the best approach. For a medical science course like this, there are some things you should ask about your future school.
Program length and curriculum
The most important thing to ask is what exactly they are teaching in their PT courses and how long they go for. Many of these schools have the same courses and length so make sure they meet your requirements.
What technology integration do they offer that will make it easier to study. Are the lessons recorded and available to play back later? Can you get the materials delivered electronically?
How many rotation weeks are offered during this program and are they placed throughout the year or all at the end of it?
Scholarships and assistance
If you’re looking for a scholarship this will be important, but it’s also handy to know in case you need assistance down the line.
Ask what that school offers that makes them unique from others, as this will be a great indicator of things they have that others don’t.
This means their connections with other schools that can help you expand your reach, including medical schools or nursing schools that they might be associated with.
The Best Physical Therapy Schools in the Country
The way that these schools are ranked for greatness comes down to a few things. Graduation rates, employment rates, exam pass rate, faculties, and more are all considered in order to come up with a definitive list. According to US News, these are the top ranking physical therapy schools in the country at the current time.
Although these are considered the best schools as it currently stands, there may be other factors that come into making your decision. Here are some things you might want to consider before enrolling in a physical therapy school.
Location: Where you live will be important as will your ability to move freely to attend the school that you want.
Cost: The cost for a physical therapy degree is roughly $$$ including all other costs, so consider this into your decision.
Philosophy: There are degrees and schools that focus on different things like research focused curriculums or long distance learning. Choose one that suits your goals for study and practice.
The Salary Earnings in Physical Therapy
When you attend one of the best physical therapy schools you’re guaranteeing yourself a better chance at a successful career. The average earnings for a PT can range depending on experience and location, but the latest figures from 2017 showed a median salary of $$$.
Starting out in your career you can expect to earn a little less but with just a few years of experience, it’s easy to make this predicted salary. As the figures also indicate a growing demand for the profession, we can expect to see this amount rise even further.
For those looking for a steady and stable career that can provide financially as well, physical therapy is a great option. Not only will you be able to practice as a self-employed practitioner, but there is the option to use it for many other career choices like sports rehab, working with disabilities, and helping the elderly.
A Growing Career For Those Who Want to Heal
Just by looking at the statistics, it’s clear to see that physical therapy is a career that will only continue to grow in the coming years. If you’ve been thinking about joining this amazing career path, the best thing you could do is find a quality school to attend and spend the next few years focused on getting your education.
There are so many options available for physical therapists and you will have no shortage of career choices once you’ve finished your studies. Whether you want to pursue work in the field of professional sports or start your own private practice, it’s all possible with the best education behind you.
People are always looking for ways to solve their physical and mental health problems without resorting to invasive measures or potentially harmful drugs. A physical therapist is able to help achieve this and it’s a truly rewarding career choice to make, provided you have chosen the best school to suit your needs.