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How to Select the Right Physical Therapy Course Near Anthem Arizona

Anthem Arizona physical therapist working with female patient holding balance ballReceiving a physical therapy degree near Anthem AZ is an essential first step to beginning a rewarding career in the health care field. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been debilitated due to illness or injury gain back function and mobility. But before they may legally practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they must obtain the appropriate training and education. A PT must also become licensed in every state, many requiring that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So prior to selecting a physical therapy school, it's necessary to research those you are considering to make sure they will provide a quality education and comply with your state's licensing criteria. What you should not do is enroll in a college just because it happens to be the nearest to your home or it has the lowest tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that need to be considered besides location and cost. But before we discuss what those qualifications are and the questions you should be asking, we'll address what a physical therapist does and the options for education.

What is a Physical Therapist's Job Description?

Anthem Arizona DPT assisting female patient to walk

Physical therapists practice in a variety of settings, such as Anthem AZ private practices, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and sports facilities. What the facilities all share in common is that they are equipped for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As previously touched on, physical therapists help individuals that are suffering from a lack of mobility and in many cases pain due to illness or injury. After patient diagnosis, they develop a program of treatment to address the mobility problems and lessen or eradicate any pain. They also strive to stop any advancement of the disability. Although the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are abundant, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Head injuries
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Fire injuries
  • Hip Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists practice in close partnerships with other Anthem AZ health specialists, including chiropractors, physicians, registered nurses and dentists. They may also oversee one or more physical therapy assistants who work for them assisting with diagnosing and treating their patients. One thing to keep in mind for anyone considering getting into the physical therapy profession, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and kneel, crouch and stand for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degrees Available

Anthem Arizona physical therapist working with patient in pool

There are 3 physical therapy degrees offered for students to pursue at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these alternatives, the one degree that is offered that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees target either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or preparing them to progress to the doctoral level. Following are short summaries of degree levels that are offered to prospective students in the Anthem AZ area:

  • Associate Degrees educate students to become physical therapy assistants, or can be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Applicants must have a high school diploma or equivalent to qualify for enrollment. The degrees are usually offered by junior or community colleges, and require 2 years to complete. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is usually a portion of the program.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapist education to prepare students to advance to the doctoral level. Although they are not required to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an integral initial step to becoming a PT. As with the majority of bachelor's degrees, they generally take 4 years to complete and commonly include an internship program of at least 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are mandated in order to become a licensed practicing physical therapist. The degree program must also be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). In addition to the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes 3 years to complete, making the overall commitment seven years in most cases. Clinical training is an essential component along with the considerable lab and classroom instruction. Therefor the fulfillment of an internship is mandated, not just for graduation but in a number of states for licensing as well.

The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) has taken the place of the Master's of Physical Therapy (MPT), which has been phased out and is no longer available in the United States. Some licensed physical therapists holding a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the current licensing requirement for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapist Online Colleges

Anthem Arizona woman taking physical therapist classes onlineWhile not as common as the on campus alternatives, there are many accredited online physical therapist programs offered, more so at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on structure of the training, clinical lab work and internships are integrated with the online classes. This requires that the student live close to the school campus or in proximity of a sponsored internship. Fortunately, the online segment of the course of study can be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Anthem AZ home. Online programs are not only partially more accessible, but in a number of cases more economical. Tuition might be somewhat less than similar on campus alternatives, and expenditures for commuting are reduced. And a number of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These advantages may make the online option the right choice for those students that are motivated enough to learn at home.

Topics to Ask Physical Therapist Programs

By now you most likely have come to decision regarding a few of your preliminary questions, like the type of physical therapy degree you would like to earn, where you want to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to invest in your education. But considering there are numerous PT schools within the Anthem AZ area and across Arizona, you'll need to research other qualifications as well so as to further reduce your list of school options. Also, you need to make sure that you select the program that is best for you. That's the reason we have compiled a list of important questions that you need to ask the physical therapy colleges you are considering. Ask each of the competing schools these questions before making an ultimate selection.

Is the Physical Therapist School Accredited?  Find out if the schools you are considering have earned accreditation from a regional or a national organization. As previously mentioned, if you are pursuing a doctorate the program must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). If you enroll in an online school, it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's essential that both the physical therapist school and program you select are accredited, not simply the school. Additionally, check that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. In addition to guaranteeing that you receive a quality education, accreditation might be required for state licensing as well as for securing student loans or financial assistance.

What is the School's Ranking? Along with accreditation, it's imperative that the school and program you choose have outstanding reputations within the physical therapy profession. There are a number of ways you can research a PT school's reputation, beginning with requesting references from employers that they place their graduates with. You may also search for online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Contact a few Anthem AZ physical therapist clinics or other healthcare facilities that you may be interested in working for and ask if they can give you any recommendations about your program options. It might also be a good idea to check with the Arizona Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been filed against the colleges.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? There are a two significant statistics that you should find out about all of the physical therapist programs you are reviewing. First is their graduation rate. A low rate may indicate that students dropped out because of displeasure with the program, the instructors, or both. After the students have graduated, how many of them are being hired with the assistance of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Anthem AZ area? If a school has a high job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the medical care field is good or perhaps exceptional. It also verifies that the college has a wide network of contacts to help students obtain internships or jobs after graduation.

Does the School Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the school you choose provides both excellent training and a curriculum that supports the licensing requirements for Arizona or the state where you will be working. In each state a passing score is needed on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) in addition to a degree from an accredited physical therapist school. Although licensing requirements differ state by state for PT and PTA graduates, a number of states require a minimum number of clinical hours be performed as well as passing scores on additional exams.

Are Internships Provided? Find out if the physical therapist colleges you are assessing have relationships with Anthem AZ clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent way to obtain practical training in a clinical setting, they are also a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they can assist students and graduates establish professional relationships in the Anthem healthcare community and assist with obtaining employment once licensed.

How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of person that prefers to sit way in the back of class or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a smaller class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapy schools you are reviewing what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you an opportunity to speak with a few of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the physical therapy program also.

Where is the College Located? For a number of students, the physical therapy college they select will have to be within commuting distance of their Anthem AZ residence. Those who have decided to attend online classes obviously will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of importance. Something to keep in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a program that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges commonly charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges often charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.

Is Financial Support Provided? Most DPT schools provide some type of financial aid to their prospective students. Find out if the schools you are examining have a financial assistance office and see what kind of aid is available. At a minimum they should help in acquiring a student loan or any grants you may qualify for. A number of physical therapist colleges provide scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before eliminating a program because the tuition is beyond your budget, learn what financial assistance may be available.

Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must confirm that the physical therapist program you ultimately pick can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you choose to continue working while attending school. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Anthem AZ area, make certain that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, find out if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would need to enroll in. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss because of illness, work or family obligations.

Find Out More About Anthem Physical Therapy Schools

Choose the Right Anthem Physical Therapy School

Deciding on the best physical therapist school is an important first decision you have to make to launch a rewarding career in the health care field. As we have discussed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and school you select should both have outstanding reputations and accreditation. But there are other critical questions that you need to ask concerning your college of choice also. As you begin your search for a physical therapy school keep in mind that many variables will guide you to your final decision. You may decide to visit different schools to view their facilities and speak to current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this college help me accomplish my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By adhering to our list of additional questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the field so you can make the right selection. And with the necessary education and training, you can achieve your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in Anthem Arizona.


 

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