Best Physical Therapy Schools for your Money
Your plan of becoming a physical therapist is a dream you’ve had for years, so the odds are you’ve researched what courses you need, the degrees you need and the amount of clinical work you’ll have to complete. But in order to make a name for yourself in the healthcare industry, you need to know what to look for in the best physical therapy schools to ensure that the education and training you receive will open doors for you regardless of where you live, or what area you specialize in.
Signs of a Reputable Physical Therapy Program
First off, every physical therapist program must be accredited by the CAPTE. This means that every program must teach the same topics and feature the same curriculum. This allows all graduates to be prepared for the same licensure exam.
Second, the job market for this profession is excellent right now, so, in terms of employment prospects, it doesn’t matter really where you went to school. In most cases, it won’t matter like it would for business or law school where a graduate from an Ivy League school might get more consideration than the graduate of a lower-tier school.
But if your goal is more to find programs that offer the best learning experience, reasonable tuition fees, and an ideal location, then there are plenty of ways to go about your search.
With the increasing costs of education, how much a PT program costs is probably one of the most important things to consider because it will have such a lengthy effect on your finances. Unfortunately, not many aspiring PTs will take this aspect into consideration.
Student loans, whether they’re private or federal, will be with you until they’re paid off. These payments are often a minimum of $500 a month for a period of thirty years. If you consider a doctoral program at a public college then you can expect an average tuition fee of $53,000. If you’re accepted to a private institution, you’re looking at almost double the price.
Remember, a doctoral physical therapy program means that you’ll probably end up borrowing money for living expenses as well because you’ll be studying or in class for more than forty hours a week. So, unless you’re able to support yourself by working part-time or with savings, you can tack on an additional $30,000 annually. If your education guaranteed a better program, or a higher paying position when you graduate, then the high cost would be understandable, but it doesn’t. So, you’ll need to do a little research on the cost of your education and training before you decide which school is best for you.
Most colleges offer this information right on their websites, so it should be easy for you to obtain enough information to make a final decision. Potentially, you can reduce your costs with grants and scholarships. Check out what each school of interest offers in terms of financial resources. These resources can truly help you out, especially if you don’t have time to work a part-time job.
For many students, the location of their school is also a big factor. Some students need to remain in certain areas because they’re planning on living with family or friends, or they have other commitments. In cases such as these, students are willing to pay a higher tuition in order to stay in a preferred area. For others, moving to a new state is fine or preferred. Keep in mind that you’ll make most of your network connections around or through the school, which can help you in your job search when you’re fresh out of college. If you decide to remain in your home state, consider the commute length. Since you’ll be spending more time than you ever imagined at school you’ll want to make sure the commute is convenient.
But beyond the commute, there are other things to think about when it comes to location, such as internships. Unlike a nursing program, physical therapy programs generally don’t pay a clinical instructor to supervise their students during an internship for seven or even twenty-four weeks. These physical therapy instructors actually do it for free. So, not only do they not receive any compensation, training a student means that the clinical instructor won’t be able to get as much work accomplished which means he or she is making less money for the facility.
Unfortunately, because of this, many instructors can’t train more students because of the type of financial constraints it puts on the facility. This is a major challenge for PT faculty who are in charge of finding clinical placements for every student enrolled in the program. It can be even harder in places where there aren’t many placements to choose from, such as rural locations.
So, if you choose a school in a rural area, you can expect at least one rotation to take place out of the area because there probably won’t be enough local internships to go around. If there are a large number of PT programs in an urban area, there still may not be enough internships to go around considering all of the programs will be fighting for limited internship slots.
Some schools can even require students to travel out of state for an internship, at the student’s expense. Students will also be responsible for paying for their housing during that time, which can be a major financial hardship for many students. Because of this, it’s best to find out more information regarding internship availability and requirements before you enroll in a program.
Choosing the Right Teaching Philosophy
More and more of these programs are offering flipped classrooms, which will allow students to watch a lecture video on their own time and use class time to practice, question, and discuss. This should be another area you research to help you find the best physical therapy school for you.
There are some students who prefer a more traditional lecture format, while others find lectures boring and instead would rather teach themselves in a self-directed format. Make sure you’re comfortable with what a potential program has to offer before you apply, so you don’t end up following a curriculum that will make learning about PT any harder than it already is.