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Physical therapists give people of all ages quality care, from children to the elderly. This vital health discipline is quickly growing as more and more people seek to remain active.
Working alongside an interprofessional care team, physical therapists help people with mobility issues stemming from chronic conditions.
Physical therapists prevent, evaluate, and treat physical injuries with the ultimate goal of restoring independence.
Certified physical therapists trained at the doctorate level at top schools across the nation. To earn their DPT degree, PT students learn foundational basics and practice their abilities in clinical rotations. The understanding of human movement learned in classes serves as the foundation for practice.
Along with hands-on procedures, physical therapists must have strong communication, coordination, and critical thinking skills.
Effective interdisciplinary collaboration across fields is important for the best patient care. PT students develop these abilities through research, student organizations, and community clinics.
With a rising number of aging people staying active later in life, the demand for physical therapists continues to grow. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts an 18% growth rate in the profession through 2029.
Here are the 10 best Physical Therapy Schools in California
- University of Southern California
- UCSF – San Francisco State University
- Samuel Merritt University
- San Diego State University
- Loma Linda University
- Chapman University
- Mount Saint Mary’s University
- University of the Pacific
- California State University, Fresno
- California State University, Sacramento
1. University of Southern California
As a top-ranked school of physical therapy, University of Southern California is dedicated to shaping the future of the field.
The university offers a traditional DPT program and an innovative, hybrid format. Physical therapy students attend classes using the online campus and visit the campus for in-person immersion experiences.
Learning from the same renowned faculty as the traditional program, PT students in the hybrid program will be fully immersed in the University of Southern California experience.
Julie Tilson, professor of clinical physical therapy, was recently recognized with an Award for Leadership in Education.
This is one of the highest awards given by the Academy of Physical Therapy Education and highlights the leadership of USC faculty members.
They prioritize interdisciplinary collaboration and translational research efforts to provide the best level of patient care.
Using 14 laboratories and two research centers, PT students perform research under the guidance of faculty members to study rehabilitation.
2. UCSF – San Francisco State University
The joint physical therapy program between UCSF and SFSU admits 50 students each year, preparing them for success in their future careers.
After graduating, 100% of physical therapy students go on to pass the national licensing exam. Physical therapy alumni have the opportunity to continue their education through a variety of symposiums, lectures, and other resources offered to the physical therapy network.
This top-tier education is present throughout the curriculum, including the residency programs. The Acute Care Physical Therapy Residency Program provides curriculum, mentoring, and teaching experience to prepare students for practice.
PT residents learn to deliver patient-centered services with access to resources and clinical expertise from the UCSF health system.
Physical therapy students can also provide care through the UCSF PhysFit Wellness Center to translate exercise sciences into physical therapy practice.
Physical therapists offer individual and group programs to improve strength, endurance, balance, and function.
3. Samuel Merritt University
Samuel Merritt University is home to one of the West’s most advanced healthcare simulation facilities.
The Health Sciences Simulation Center is home to computerized mannequins and standardized patients.
Through the use of technology, Physical Therapy students respond to life-like scenarios as part of a healthcare team. This model environment prioritizes patient safety and connects theory and practice.
The Community Participant Labs are another way for physical therapy students to practice their techniques.
As a required experience, students provide physical therapy services to community members under the supervision of licensed faculty. These labs include adult, pediatric, and occupational physical therapy.
Physical therapy students can also bring together theory and practice through the series of capstone courses.
Working in small groups, they complete a case report, systematic review, or community-based research project. Samuel Merritt University
physical therapy students go on to present their work to their peers or even at national conferences.
4. San Diego State University
Physical Therapy students opt for San Diego State University for the cutting-edge curriculum and research facilities.
These labs focus on topics from neuroplasticity to rehabilitation biomechanics. The Applied Sensorimotor Research Laboratory at San Diego State University identifies mechanisms behind stress and pain responses. PT students work alongside researchers to prevent and treat chronic pain disorders.
At San Diego State University, students generate their own research with the assistance of faculty members.
Physical therapy students in the Class of 2021 successfully published their doctoral project work in the journal Military Medicine. Their work centered on post-traumatic neck pain that is found in veterans.
Outside of classes and the lab, there are plenty of options for participation in student organizations.
The California Outreach Challenge is a state-wide competition that challenges Physical therapy students to volunteer in their local communities.
San Diego State University students were the top 5 finishers in the individual competition, placing 2nd among Physical therapy programs.
5. Loma Linda University
Loma Linda University prepares physical therapists to pursue careers as researchers, educators, and caregivers.
Along with a DPT degree, the university has other offerings, including post-professional PT and PT assistant programs.
The unique physical therapy Ph.D. curriculum is research-oriented and emphasizes topics from pain science to lifestyle health.
Loma Linda University offers a residency program with advanced knowledge and skills in the area for students interested in orthopedics.
Physical Therapy students work with clinical supervisors to train in examination, clinical decision-making, and treatment procedures.
Members of the orthopedic residency program provide patient care through the Medical Center’s Outpatient Rehabilitation Center.
Loma Linda University offers unique mission trips to help local and global communities. Since 2015, PT students have participated in Street Medicine to provide their services to low-income residents in San Bernardino. Others travel to Haiti, Ethiopia, China, or Mexico to impact physical therapy care worldwide.
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Last Updated on December 19, 2022 by Admin