Finding An Accredited, Local PT School
Finding a local accredited physical therapy program may be time-consuming if you live in an area without large universities. However, it is not impossible; some of the best physical therapy programs are at smaller schools, so you may have to be patient and take the time to do some homework to find the right school for you.
Accreditation is Important
Physical therapy programs in the United States are accredited by an organization known as CAPTE, which stands for the Commission on Accreditation of Physical Therapy Education. This organization is recognized as the governing body determining whether physical therapy programs meet certain standards designed to give students the best possible education. Schools must meet certain requirements handed down by CAPTE in order to gain accreditation, and are examined every few years to be sure those standards are being maintained.
Finding an accredited school has become even more important since the advent of online schooling. Anyone can open a “physical therapy school” and advertise it on the internet; this does not mean that the school provides a sound physical therapy training program or will prepare you properly for your new career.
Choosing only accredited schools helps you avoid the trap of paying money for an education that will not lead you to a degree or will not allow you to pass licensure and certification tests demanded by each state for physical therapists. An accredited school is far more likely to prepare you for these exams and allow you to easily pass whatever specialized tests you need for your chosen physical therapy area.
Finding a Local School Has Advantages
Most physical therapy programs require you to perform some time period of internship. Internship allows you to get real-life experience with physical therapists who can help you learn the realities of the practice of this profession. Internship is one of the most important parts of your training.
In order to perform an internship, you must be able to physically attend a location every day during your internship period. If you attend school away from home, your internship may also be located at a distance from where you live, requiring you to travel or obtain an apartment or other living space while you are doing your internship. As most internships are not paid positions, this can create a problem for students who do not have the funds to go to school full-time.
A local school will be far more likely to allow you to do a local internship. This may allow you to live at home while you are in school, which can save you a large amount of money. By choosing a local school, you may be able to afford a much better overall education than if you try to go to school at a distant location.
Online schools have, in some regard, mitigated this problem by allowing you to live at home while you attend school. However, be sure that the online program you choose will work with you to find a local internship position rather than demand that you perform an internship at a distant location.
Many accredited online programs do allow you to choose a local practice for your internship; as long as the local physical therapy clinic agrees, you can perform your internship there and they will work with your school to give regular reports on your progress.