Picking a college in general is overwhelming and searching for the best physical therapy department makes things even more complicated. Here are five questions to think about when you’re searching for a PT program:
5. What schools offer physical therapy degrees? The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) website has a great section for prospective students. You can search for schools with either physical therapy or physical therapies assistant programs by state.
4. How much time do the students at the school spend with patients before they graduate? The more hands-on experience you have with patients before you graduate, the more comfortable and competent you will be when you start practicing. When do students start doing clinical rotations? How long are they? Are there other opportunities to work with clients outside of full-time clinicals? Here at Nazareth we have myriad pro-bono clinics on campus that you’ll participate in during each semester of grad school. For example, during your first fall semester, you’ll get to work with a client who has multiple sclerosis.
3. What is the program’s placement rate? The demand for health care professionals is incredible right now, especially the demand for physical therapists, but how is this particular school doing? Closely related to this question is how many students pass the licensure exam the first time? I guarantee you’ll want to diminish your chances of taking that test more than once by any means possible. These numbers will also give you a good idea of how well the program is doing at preparing its students for licensure and practice.
2. Is the program direct admit? There are two types of physical therapy programs: those that accept students as freshman to both the undergraduate and graduate phases of the program and those that require students to reapply for the graduate phase. If you are going into physical therapy or even if you are just considering it, apply to a direct admit program!! It is incredibly hard to get into a graduate physical therapy program right now! Our acceptance rate for people who transfer into our graduate program here at Nazareth is less than 10%. (Don’t worry, we’re a direct admit program.) Even if you do decide physical therapy isn’t for you, you can always transfer out of a direct admit program into another major.
1. Don’t let physical therapy be the only thing you do in college!! Just because physical therapy is demanding, it shouldn’t be the only thing you get to do in college. Do you want to play a sport? Go to a school where you can keep doing that! Do you want to keep playing an instrument in college? Go to a school that allows non-majors into its music ensembles! Do you want to study abroad? Go to a school that encourages students to go overseas regardless of their major! Do you want to have a minor in something completely unrelated to physical therapy like English literature? Go to a school that encourages academic freedom! I have played in either band or orchestra all of my semesters here, spent a semester in England, and participated in the honors program. Your college career should be what you make of it and you shouldn’t have to sacrifice the things you love just to be a physical therapist.
Best of luck!! If you have any questions about applying to physical therapy school, my experience with our program here at Naz, or just about college in general, you can always tweet them @NAZ_Meg!!