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How to Select the Right Physical Therapist Training Program Near Apache Junction Arizona

Apache Junction Arizona physical therapist working with woman using exercise ballGetting a physical therapy degree near Apache Junction AZ is an essential first step to starting a rewarding career in the health care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been debilitated due to injury or illness gain back function and mobility. But before they may legally practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they must get the appropriate education and training. A PT must additionally become licensed in all states, a large number requiring that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So before choosing a physical therapy school, it's essential to research the ones you are considering to ensure they will deliver a superior education and satisfy 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 home or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other significant qualifications that must be considered in addition to cost and location. But before we cover what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, we'll address what a physical therapist does and the options for education.

What is a Physical Therapist's Job Description?

Apache Junction Arizona DPT assisting female patient to walk

Physical therapists practice in a variety of settings, such as Apache Junction AZ private practices, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and health clubs. What the facilities all have in common is that they have the equipment for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As earlier mentioned, physical therapists help people that are suffering from a lack of mobility and often pain caused by illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they create a program of treatment to deal with the mobility issues and reduce or eradicate any pain. They also strive to prevent any progression of the disability. Although the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Strokes
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Sports injuries
  • Fire injuries
  • Hip Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Cerebral Palsy

Licensed physical therapists work in close association with other Apache Junction AZ medical specialists, including chiropractors, physicians, dentists and nurses. They may also supervise several physical therapy assistants who work under them assisting with diagnosing and treating their patients. One thing to take note of for anyone thinking about entering the physical therapy profession, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists routinely lift patients and heavy equipment, and kneel, crouch and stand for extended periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degrees Available

Apache Junction Arizona DPT working with patient in pool

There are 3 physical therapist degrees available for individuals to pursue at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these options, the only degree that is attainable 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 advance to the doctoral level. Following are brief explanations of degrees that are available to prospective students in the Apache Junction AZ area:

  • Associate Degrees prepare students to be physical therapy assistants, or may be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Applicants must have earned a high school diploma or equivalent to be accepted for enrollment. The programs are usually made available by junior or community colleges, and require two years to complete. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is normally a portion of the program.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapy education to prep candidates to move up to the doctoral level. While they are not a requirement to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an essential first step to practicing as a PT. As with the majority of bachelor's degrees, they typically require four years to complete and often incorporate an internship program of at least 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are required if you want to become a licensed practicing physical therapist. The degree program must also be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). After earning the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes three years to finish, making the total investment of time 7 years in the majority of cases. Clinical or practical training is an important element in addition to the substantial classroom and lab instruction. Therefor the fulfillment of an internship is mandated, not only for graduation but in some states for licensing also.

The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) has replaced the Master's of Physical Therapy (MPT), which has been eliminated and is no longer offered in the USA. Some licensed physical therapists having a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the existing licensing requirement for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapist Schools Online

Apache Junction Arizona female student taking physical therapist training onlineWhile not as prevalent as the more traditional alternatives, there are many accredited online physical therapy programs available, more so at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on structure of the training, internships and clinical lab work are combined with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live close to the school campus or in proximity of an available internship. Fortunately, the online portion of the program may be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Apache Junction AZ residence. Online schools are not only to some extent more accessible, but in many instances more affordable. Tuition can be somewhat lower than similar on campus alternatives, and expenditures for commuting are reduced. And a number of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These benefits may make the online option the right choice for those students that are disciplined enough to attend classes at home.

Topics to Ask Physical Therapist Programs

By now you undoubtedly have made a decision regarding some of your preliminary queries, including the kind of physical therapy degree you intend to attain, where you want to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to invest in your education. But since there are so many PT colleges within the Apache Junction AZ area and across Arizona, you'll have to look into additional qualifications as well in order to further narrow your list of college options. Furthermore, you want to be sure that you enroll in the college that is ideal for you. That's why we have put together a list of critical questions that you need to ask the physical therapist programs you are thinking about. Ask each of the competing schools these questions prior to making an ultimate selection.

Is the Physical Therapist Program Accredited?  Ask if the schools you are looking at have earned accreditation from a national or a regional organization. As earlier stated, if you are pursuing a doctorate the program must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). If you choose an online school, it may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's essential that both the physical therapist school and program you select are accredited, not just the school. Additionally, make sure that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. In addition to ensuring that you obtain an excellent education, accreditation may be mandated for state licensing and even for securing student loans or financial assistance.

What is the School's Reputation? In addition to accreditation, it's important that the school and program you pick have excellent reputations within the physical therapist profession. There are several ways you can research a PT college's reputation, starting with asking for references from employers that they refer their students to. You may also check online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Call several Apache Junction AZ physical therapist centers or other medical care facilities that you may have an interest in working for and ask if they can give you any advice about your program selections. It might also be a good idea to contact the Arizona Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been submitted against the schools.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? There are a two useful statistics that you should find out about each of the physical therapy colleges you are reviewing. One is their graduation rate. A lower rate may mean that students dropped out due to displeasure with the program, the instructors, or both. Once the students have graduated, how many of them are being hired with the help of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Apache Junction AZ area? If a school has a higher job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the health care community is good or even exceptional. It also affirms that the school has a broad network of contacts to assist students obtain internships or jobs upon graduation.

Does the Program Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the school you choose provides both superior training and a curriculum that satisfies the licensing criteria for Arizona or the state where you will be practicing. In every state a passing score is needed on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) as well as a degree from an accredited physical therapy school. Although licensing requirements vary state by state for PT and PTA graduates, some states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be completed and passing scores on supplemental exams.

Are Internships Sponsored? Ask if the physical therapist programs you are assessing have associations with Apache Junction AZ clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific manner to get practical training in a clinical setting, they are also a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they can help students and graduates establish professional connections in the Apache Junction healthcare community and assist with obtaining employment after licensing.

What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the sort of person that prefers to sit far in the back of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will likely want a small class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapy colleges you are looking at what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you a chance to talk with some of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapy program as well.

Where is the Program Located? For a number of students, the physical therapy school they choose will need to be within travelling distance of their Apache Junction AZ residence. Those who have chosen 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 consider is that if you decide to enroll in a school that is out of state or perhaps 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 frequently charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Aid Offered? Most DPT colleges supply some form of financial assistance to their potential students. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have a financial assistance department and see what kind of assistance is obtainable. At a minimum they should help in acquiring a student loan or any grants you might qualify for. Some physical therapy schools offer scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before eliminating a school because the tuition is beyond your budget, find out what financial aid may be available.

Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must confirm that the physical therapist school you ultimately select can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you decide to continue working while attending classes. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Apache Junction AZ area, make certain that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, find out if that is an option 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 as a result of work, illness or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Apache Junction Online Physical Therapy Degrees

Enroll in the Right Apache Junction Physical Therapy School

Deciding on the ideal physical therapy school is an important initial decision you must make to launch a fulfilling career in the medical field. As we have discussed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and college you choose should both have exceptional reputations and accreditation. But there are additional critical questions that you should ask concerning your college of choice also. As you start your search for a physical therapist program keep in mind that many variables will guide you toward your ultimate decision. You might want to visit each of the colleges to view their facilities and speak with current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this program help me reach my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By adhering to our list of supplemental questions, you will be able to narrow down the field so you can make the right choice. And with the necessary training and education, you can achieve your dream of becoming a licensed physical therapist in Apache Junction Arizona.


 

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