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Physical Therapy Schools: Learn a Healing Art

By Brendan Conway updated on Thursday, January 31, 2013

Being a physical therapist isn't easy, and it requires significant skill, but the rewards of helping people to live their lives to the fullest can more than make up for it.

Physical therapy is a discipline for those who want to help others. Physical therapists help their patients to learn to overcome physical difficulties with regularity, so that those patients might live unhindered lives. Physical therapists provide exercise plans, massages, electrical stimulation, and many other useful rehabilitative services to their patients. All the while, physical therapists reap the rewards of knowing that they are helping people to live their lives.

But even taking these rewards into account, you may not be sure if physical therapy school is right for you. To become a fully-fledged physical therapist, you'll need a graduate-level degree, and that can take some time and quite a bit of money.

So what do you do if physical therapy school at the graduate level isn't right for you, whether because of the time or the money needed? Well, luckily there's another good option available: physical therapy assistant schools.

Undergraduate physical therapy schools: A path to physical therapy assistantship

Undergraduate physical therapy schools do not provide students with the degrees necessary to work as fully-fledged physical therapists, but they do provide students with the training, experience, and degrees necessary to work as physical therapy assistants.

Physical therapy assistants (or aides) help physical therapists to perform their work in the most important areas. Physical therapy assistants can't practice on their own, but they certainly get to do many of the same things as physical therapists. Furthermore, career prospects for physical therapy assistants are good, considering that the need for physical therapy is ever-growing.

What do physical therapy schools give students?

So what can you expect if you become a physical therapy assistant? A couple of things. First of all, you'll have to devote 2 years of your life to earning an associate's degree in physical therapy. Most physical therapy schools for assistants don't give out full bachelor's degrees, but they also don't require the same amount of time as full bachelor's programs.

Even after attending physical therapy assistant schools, students can expect to spend a lot of time learning and being trained on-the-job. Not every state will absolutely require would-be physical therapy assistants to have associate's degrees from physical therapy schools, but it's always a good idea for assistant physical therapists to have that degree. 

If you're interested in knowing what you'll get from undergraduate physical therapy schools in terms of the average physical therapy assistant salary, follow the link.

What will I study at physical therapy schools?

At physical therapy schools, students can expect to study such subjects as anatomy, physiology, and psychology, as well as other subjects less directly related to physical therapy work, like algebra or English.

Physical therapy schools will also have clinical programs, which require students to perform work in hands-on medical clinics, thereby gaining the experience necessary to practice as physical therapy assistants. Students attending physical therapy schools will very likely earn their CPR certifications, at the very least, and will likely earn more first aid certifications, thanks to these clinical programs.

Physical therapy schools: After the degree

Physical therapy schools will prepare students for becoming licensed as physical therapy assistants. For the most part, the states in America do require physical therapy assistants to obtain licenses, or to register with state governments.

Such licensure or registration would require the would-be physical therapy assistant to undertake the National Physical Therapy Exam or state exams.

Furthermore, many states require would-be physical therapy assistants to have their associate's degrees from accredited physical therapy schools in order to be fully licensed, further emphasizing the importance of attending physical therapy school for any would-be physical therapy assistant.

Why undergraduate physical therapy schools?

Beyond the work you'd get as a physical therapy assistant, one of the advantages of education at an undergraduate physical therapy school is that you haven't devoted the same amount of time and money as you would have needed to in order to gain a graduate-level physical therapy degree, while you can still work in the same field.

Through physical therapy schools, you can find out, firsthand, if physical therapy is the right path for you, and if you want, you can always return to physical therapy schools at the graduate level to become a fully-fledged physical therapist. Your options would be open, and you would have a good path into a promising and valuable career. What more could you ask for?

If you want to start looking at physical therapy assistant schools straight away, follow the link to some useful search results.

Colleges Offering Physical Therapy Programs
About the Author

Brendan Conway is the Web Content Editor for Peterson's Interactive and is well-versed in the world of higher education and admissions. He is a graduate of Hamilton College, and has been working in admissions advice, test-prep advice, career planning advice, and similar fields for the majority of his career since graduation. Brendan endeavors to provide the most relevant, useful, and interesting information via Peterson's Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ feeds. Brendan enjoys lexicological oddities and voraciously reading in his free time.

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