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How to Find the Right Physical Therapy Course Near Apache Junction Arizona

Apache Junction Arizona physical therapist working with woman holding balance ballGetting a physical therapy degree near Apache Junction AZ is a critical first step to beginning a rewarding career in the health care field. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been disabled as a result of injury or illness regain function and mobility. But before they may legally practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they need to receive the proper training and education. A PT must additionally become licensed in all states, a large number mandating that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So before enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's important to evaluate those you are looking at to ensure they will deliver a superior education and comply with your state's licensing standards. What you do not want to do is enroll in a college simply because it happens to be the nearest to your residence or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other important qualifications that need to be considered in addition to cost and location. But before we discuss what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, we'll cover what a physical therapist does and the options for education.

What is a Physical Therapist's Job Description?

Apache Junction Arizona physical therapist assisting female patient to walk

Physical therapists work in a variety of settings, including Apache Junction AZ hospitals, health clinics, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and health clubs. What the facilities all have in common is that they are equipped for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As earlier stated, physical therapists help people that are experiencing a lack of mobility and in many cases pain due to illness or injury. After patient diagnosis, they create a course of treatment to resolve the mobility issues and lessen or eliminate any pain. They also endeavor to stop any progression of the disability. While the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Strokes
  • Heart attacks
  • Sports injuries
  • Fire injuries
  • Hip Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Cerebral Palsy

Licensed physical therapists practice in close partnerships with other Apache Junction AZ health specialists, including doctors, chiropractors, dentists and nurses. They may also manage several physical therapy assistants who work under them in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. Something to bear in mind for anyone considering getting into the physical therapy profession, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists often lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and kneel, crouch and stand for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degree Options

Apache Junction Arizona DPT working with patient in pool

There are three physical therapist degree options offered for students to pursue at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these choices, the one degree that is offered that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees concentrate on either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or preparing them to progress to the doctoral level. Below are brief descriptions of degree levels that are offered to prospective students in the Apache Junction AZ area:

  • Associate Degrees educate students to be physical therapy assistants, or can be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Candidates must have a high school diploma or GED to be accepted for enrollment. The degrees are usually made available by community colleges, and require two years to complete. An internship or other form of clinical training is usually a component of the curriculum.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapist education to prep candidates to progress to the doctoral level. Although they are not a requirement to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an integral preliminary step to becoming a PT. As with most bachelor's degrees, they normally take 4 years to complete and usually incorporate an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are required in order to become a licensed practicing physical therapist. The degree program also must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). After earning the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes 3 years to complete, making the total investment of time 7 years in the majority of cases. Practical or clinical training is an intregal component along with the substantial lab and classroom instruction. Consequently the completion of an internship is required, not just for graduation but in some states for licensing as well.

The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) has replaced the Master's of Physical Therapy (MPT), which has been phased out and is no longer available in the United States. Some practicing physical therapists having a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the present licensing mandate for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapist Colleges Online

Apache Junction Arizona female student taking physical therapist training onlineWhile not as prevalent as the on campus alternatives, there are a number of accredited online physical therapy programs offered, even more at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on nature of the training, internships and clinical lab work are incorporated with the online classes. This requires that the student live close to the college campus or in proximity of a sponsored internship. Fortunately, the online portion of the course of study may be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Apache Junction AZ residence. Online programs are not only partially more accessible, but in many instances more economical. Tuition might be somewhat lower than comparable on campus alternatives, and expenses for commuting are minimized. And many of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These advantages can make the online alternative the ideal choice for those students that are motivated enough to learn at home.

Questions to Ask Physical Therapy Schools

By now you most likely have come to decision regarding some of your preliminary queries, such as the kind of physical therapist degree you want to earn, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much you can afford to spend for your education. But since there are so many PT schools within the Apache Junction AZ area and across Arizona, you'll need to explore additional qualifications also in order to further reduce your list of school choices. Furthermore, you need to make sure that you pick the college that is best for you. That's the reason we have put together a list of important questions that you must ask the physical therapy schools you are considering. Ask all of the competing schools these questions before making an ultimate selection.

Is the Physical Therapist College Accredited?  Ask if the colleges you are reviewing have received accreditation from a regional or a national agency. As previously stated, if you are pursuing a doctorate the program must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). If you select an online school, it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's important that both the physical therapist school and program you select are accredited, not simply the school. Also, make sure that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Along with guaranteeing that you obtain a quality education, accreditation may be required for state licensing as well as for getting student loans or financial assistance.

What is the Program's Reputation? In addition to accreditation, it's important that the school and program you select have exceptional reputations within the physical therapist profession. There are a number of ways you can look into a PT college's reputation, beginning with asking for 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. Call some Apache Junction AZ physical therapist centers or other health care facilities that you might have an interest in working for and ask if they can give you any advice about your program options. It may also be prudent to check with the Arizona Attorney General and school licensing authority to find out if any complaints have been submitted against the colleges.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? There are a couple of important statistics that you need to know about each of the physical therapy colleges you are looking at. First is their graduation rate. A low rate may suggest that students left because of displeasure with the program, the instructors, or both. Once the students have graduated, how many of them are being placed in jobs with the support of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Apache Junction AZ area? If a college has a higher job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the medical care field is good or perhaps exceptional. It also confirms that the program has a wide network of contacts to assist students get internships or employment upon graduation.

Does the Program Support 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 practicing. In every state a passing score is required on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) in addition to a degree from an accredited physical therapy college. While licensing requirements vary state by state for PTA and PT graduates, a number of states require a minimum number of clinical hours be completed as well as passing scores on supplemental exams.

Are Internship Programs Sponsored? Ask if the physical therapist programs you are assessing have relationships with Apache Junction AZ clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent means to get practical experience in a clinical environment, they are additionally a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they can assist graduates and students develop professional connections in the Apache Junction medical community and help with obtaining employment after licensing.

What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the sort of student that prefers to sit far in the back of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will likely prefer a small class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapist colleges you are reviewing what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you a chance to converse with several of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the physical therapist program also.

Where is the College Located? For a number of students, the physical therapist college they pick will have to be within driving distance of their Apache Junction AZ home. Students who have decided to attend classes online naturally will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. One thing to keep in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a college that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges normally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges normally charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Aid Offered? The majority of DPT colleges offer some type of financial support to their potential students. Inquire if the colleges you are looking at have a financial aid department and find out what type of aid is obtainable. At a minimum they should help in getting a student loan or any scholarships you may be eligible for. Some physical therapist colleges offer scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before eliminating a program because the tuition is beyond your budget, ask what financial aid may be available.

Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must verify that the physical therapist college you ultimately pick can provide the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you opt to continue working while you attend school. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Apache Junction AZ area, make certain that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would have to enroll in. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Apache Junction Physical Therapy Courses

Choose the Right Apache Junction Physical Therapist School

Deciding on the right physical therapy college is an important initial decision you have to make to begin a fulfilling career in the medical field. As we have covered in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and school you enroll in should both have outstanding reputations and accreditation. However there are additional relevant questions that you need to ask regarding your college of choice as well. As you start your search for a physical therapist program bear in mind that numerous factors will lead you toward your final decision. You may want to visit different colleges to see their facilities and speak to current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this college help me achieve my goal of becoming a licensed practicing 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 appropriate choice. And with the necessary education and training, you can achieve your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in Apache Junction Arizona.


 

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