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How to Find the Right Physical Therapist College Near Avondale Arizona

Avondale Arizona physical therapist working with woman using balance ballReceiving a physical therapist degree near Avondale AZ is an essential first step to launching a fulfilling career in the healthcare industry. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been disabled due to illness or injury regain function and mobility. But before they may legally practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they must acquire the proper education and training. A PT must also become licensed in all states, many mandating that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So prior to choosing a physical therapy school, it's essential to investigate those you are thinking about to ensure they will provide a quality education and satisfy your state's licensing criteria. What you do not want to do is enroll in a school simply because it happens to be the nearest to your residence or it has the lowest tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that need to be considered in addition to location and cost. 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?

Avondale Arizona DPT assisting woman to walk

Physical therapists work in a variety of locations, such as Avondale AZ private practices, hospitals, assisted living facilities, rehab centers 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 individuals that are suffering from a lack of mobility and often pain caused by illness or injury. After patient diagnosis, they develop a program of treatment to address the mobility issues and reduce or eradicate any pain. They also strive to prevent any progression of the disability. Though the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are abundant, they include:

  • Osteoporosis and Arthritis
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Head injuries
  • Heart attacks
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Fire injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Cerebral Palsy

Licensed physical therapists work in close association with other Avondale AZ medical professionals, including chiropractors, physicians, dentists and nurses. They may also oversee several physical therapy assistants who work for them in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. One thing to bear in mind for anyone thinking about going into the physical therapy field, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists routinely lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and stand, crouch and kneel for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapist Degree Options

Avondale Arizona DPT working with man in pool

There are 3 physical therapist degree options available for students to enroll in at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these options, the only degree that is attainable that qualifies the graduate to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees focus on either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or preparing them to advance to the doctoral level. Following are short summaries of degree levels that are available to prospective students in the Avondale AZ area:

  • Associate Degrees train students to become physical therapy assistants, or can be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Candidates must have a high school diploma or equivalent to be accepted for enrollment. The degrees are typically provided by community colleges, and require 2 years to complete. An internship or other form of clinical training is normally a portion of the curriculum.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapy training to prep students to progress to the doctoral level. Although they are not a requirement to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an essential preliminary step to practicing as a PT. As with most bachelor's degrees, they generally require 4 years to finish and often include an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are mandated 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 commitment seven years in the majority of cases. Practical or clinical training is an intregal component in addition to the considerable lab and classroom instruction. Therefor the completion of an internship is mandated, not only 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 offered in the USA. Some practicing physical therapists having a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the current licensing mandate for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapy Online Schools

Avondale Arizona female student taking physical therapist classes onlineAlthough not as common as the more traditional alternatives, there are many accredited online physical therapist programs offered, more so 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 necessitates that the student live near the school campus or nearby an available internship. However, the online part of the course of study can be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Avondale AZ residence. 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 options, and costs for commuting are minimized. And a number of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These benefits can make the online alternative the right choice for those students that are motivated enough to learn at home.

Topics to Ask Physical Therapy Colleges

By now you most likely have made a decision concerning a few of your preliminary questions, like the kind of physical therapy degree you would like to earn, where you want to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to spend for your education. But since there are so many PT schools within the Avondale AZ area and across Arizona, you'll have to research additional qualifications as well in order to further reduce your list of college choices. Moreover, you want to make sure that you select the school that is right for you. That's why we have put together a list of important questions that you need to ask the physical therapist colleges you are considering. Ask each of the competing schools these questions before making a final selection.

Is the Physical Therapy Program Accredited?  Ask if the schools you are reviewing have earned accreditation from a national or a regional organization. As earlier mentioned, if you are pursuing a doctoral degree the program must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). If you select an online college, it can 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 just the school. Additionally, check that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Along with guaranteeing that you obtain an excellent education, accreditation might be mandated for state licensing and even for securing student loans or financial assistance.

What is the College's Reputation? In addition to accreditation, it's important that the college and program you pick have exceptional reputations within the physical therapy community. There are several ways you can research a PT college's reputation, starting 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 as well. Call several Avondale AZ physical therapist centers or other health care facilities that you may have an interest in working for and ask if they can offer any advice about your school options. It might also be prudent to contact the Arizona Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been filed against the schools.

What is the School's Job Placement Percentage? There are a two relevant statistics that you need to know about each of the physical therapist schools you are reviewing. One is their graduation rate. A low rate may suggest that students dropped out due to displeasure with the program, the instructors, or both. After the students have graduated, how many of them are being hired with the help of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Avondale AZ area? If a college has a high job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the health care field is good or even exceptional. It also confirms that the college has a wide network of contacts to help students gain internships or jobs upon graduation.

Does the School Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's important that the school you choose furnishes both exceptional training and a course of study that satisfies the licensing criteria for Arizona or the state where you will be working. In each state a passing score is required on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) in addition to a degree from an accredited physical therapist college. While licensing requirements vary state by state for PTA and PT graduates, some states require a minimum number of clinical hours be completed and passing scores on additional exams.

Are Internship Programs Offered? Inquire if the physical therapist schools you are assessing have relationships with Avondale AZ clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only a terrific means to get practical training in a clinical setting, they are additionally a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they can help graduates and students form professional connections in the Avondale health care community and help with obtaining employment after licensing.

How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of student that likes to sit way in the back of class or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a smaller class size. Smaller classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapy schools you are researching what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you a chance to converse with a few of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapy program as well.

Where is the College Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapy college they pick will have to be within travelling distance of their Avondale AZ residence. Individuals who have chosen to attend online classes naturally will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. Something to keep in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a college that is out of state or perhaps 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 typically charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.

Is Financial Support Offered? The majority of DPT schools offer some form of financial assistance to their potential students. Ask if the colleges you are examining have a financial assistance office and see what kind of aid is available. At a minimum they should help in securing a student loan or any grants you might qualify for. Some physical therapist colleges provide scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before you eliminate a school because the tuition is beyond your budget, find out what financial aid may be available.

Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to confirm that the physical therapist college you finally choose can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you decide to continue working while you attend school. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Avondale AZ area, confirm that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would have to carry. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.

Learn More About Avondale Online Physical Therapist Degrees

Enroll in the Best Avondale Physical Therapist School

Selecting the right physical therapist program is an important initial decision you need to make to begin a gratifying career in the health care profession. As we have covered in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and college you decide on should both have excellent reputations and be accredited. However there are additional critical questions that you should ask pertaining to your college of choice also. As you commence your search for a physical therapy college keep in mind that numerous factors will lead you to your final decision. You might decide to go to each of the campuses to see their facilities and speak with active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this program help me reach my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By adhering to our list of supplemental questions, you will be able to narrow down the field so you can make the ideal selection. And with the necessary education and training, you can achieve your dream to become a licensed physical therapist in Avondale Arizona.


 

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