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Pre-Physical Therapy

What is Physical Therapy?

Physical therapy is a dynamic profession with an established theoretical and scientific base and widespread clinical applications in the restoration, maintenance, and promotion of optimal physical function. (http://www.apta.org/)

What Is Pre-Physical Therapy Education?

Pre-physical therapy education provides students with a sound background in the natural and social sciences necessary for admission to a physical therapy program. Essentially, it involves a defined set of pre-requisite course.

Eastern University intentionally does not have a formal “Pre-Physical Therapy” major. Instead, the pre-requisite courses are incorporated within the course work required of other majors, such as biology, athletic training and exercise science. This allows students to obtain knowledge and skills in an area that will allow them to obtain a job related to their major, if, for whatever reason, graduate school attendance needs to be deferred. A degree in “pre- physical therapy” or “allied health” limits the scope of what one can do upon graduation.

What is Physical Therapy Education?

Physical therapy (PT) professional education “refers to the education that prepares graduates for entry into practice of physical therapy. All PTs must receive a graduate degree from an accredited physical therapist program before taking the national licensure examination that allows them to practice (www.apta.org).”

Presently, entry-level physical therapy education programs are offered at two degree levels; Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) Degree and Master of Physical Therapy (MPT). Both degree programs prepare students to be eligible to sit for the PT Licensure examination in all 50 states. However, effective December 31, 2015, all programs will be required by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education to offer the DPT program.

Which undergraduate major best prepares you for graduate education for physical therapy?

Biology and health related majors like athletic training and exercise science are the most common areas of study for the pre-professional phase of physical therapy education, as these majors compliment physical therapy very well. However, it is very important to understand that the pre-requisites for graduate studies in physical therapy can be coupled with any major. In other words, a student does not have to study in a health related field to be accepted into physical therapy school. A student could major in music and take the PT pre-requisites while studying music. What is critical is that the earned GPA for both the undergraduate education as well as the pre-requisites is high.

Why would you want to study at Eastern for your undergraduate preparation for graduate studies in physical therapy?

Regardless of the area of undergraduate studies, all students who attend Eastern University will be taught by dedicated faculty who bring integrity, expertise, commitment and Christian faith to the classroom. Those students who major in exercise science and athletic training, which are the most common pre-professional majors for physical therapy, will gain extensive hands-on experience in our state of the art laboratory which houses a variety of equipment including: a Wingate Peak Monarch Cycle Ergometer and software, Quinton Treadmill and Electrocardiograph, metabolic cart and hydrostatic weighing tank. Students will study a curriculum that is accredited by the: Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (Exercise Science) and Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (Athletic Training).

It is a curriculum that has an intentional cohesiveness which promotes a deeper understanding through logical sequencing which in turn results in a richer understanding overtime.

At Eastern, our Pre-professional students are actively involved in the Athletic Training or Exercise Science Clubs and participate in a variety of activities such as Health Fairs, the Special Olympics, and Journal Clubs and attend professional conferences in their related disciplines.

The advising at Eastern is impeccable. Students meet with their advisors and develop a four year plan that will enable them to earn their undergraduate degree and meet the pre-requisite requirements. However, the advising does not stop there. The student’s advisor meets with the students on a regular basis to ensure the application process is on schedule. Moreover, there is interview preparation and advice on post-application protocol. This is unique to Eastern.

What are some the graduate schools into which Eastern students have been accepted?

Most of our students remain in the Philadelphia area to attend graduate school. However, we do have students who attend schools out of the tri-state area. The following are some of the graduate schools that have been most recently attended by Eastern graduates: Arcadia University, Thomas Jefferson University, Hahnemann-Drexel University, Widener University, University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences, Neumann College and Stockton College of New Jersey.

Is a Bachelor’s Degree required for admission to graduate school for physical therapy?

Most physical therapy education programs require an earned bachelor’s degree prior to admission into the graduate program. There are, however, some programs that offer a 3 + 3 program which involves 3 years of specific pre- professional (undergraduate/Pre-PT) coursework followed by admission into a specific professional program. This involves an agreement between the undergraduate and the graduate programs or institutions. At Eastern, we purposefully do not have such agreements because we believe it is critical that students graduate with a Bachelor’s degree that will provide them with a set of skills that can be utilized upon graduation. These agreements between undergraduate and graduate institutions do not guarantee admission into the professional phase of the physical therapy education. Oftentimes, students and their families misinterpret the relationship between the institutions and interpret the existence of such as a relationship that guarantees admission.

Is it competitive to get into graduate school for physical therapy?

Admission into a physical therapy education program is very competitive! Physical therapy programs look for students with high grade point averages, especially in the science and math courses. In addition, documented volunteer or paid experience in the health care field is often a prerequisite for admission to most programs. Students are also required to take the Graduate Record Examination for acceptance into most institutions. It is important for students to recognize that there are a limited number of programs across the country and program size is quite small. In fact there are oftentimes more than four times the number of applicants than spaces available in most programs. Therefore, it is critical that students during their undergraduate preparation maintain a very high GPA.

What are the admission and application requirements for Schools of Physical Therapy?

Common Admission and Application Requirements for Schools of Physical Therapy include:

  • Completion of a special application to the physical therapy program
  • Completion of all prerequisite courses with a high overall grade point average
  • A high grade point average in all the science and math prerequisite courses
  • Documented clinical experiences with the required number of hours varying among programs
  • Letters of recommendation (as specified by the program)
  • Written essays (usually required as part of the admissions application process) on topic (s) specified by the program
  • Graduate Record Examination Scores.

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