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How to Select the Right Physical Therapist School Near Avondale Arizona

Avondale Arizona physical therapist working with woman holding balance ballEarning a physical therapy degree near Avondale AZ is a critical first step to launching a fulfilling career in the medical care field. Physical therapists (PT) help people 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 need to obtain the necessary education and training. A PT must additionally become licensed in every state, a large number mandating that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So prior to enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's necessary to research the ones you are considering to ensure they will provide a superior education and comply with your state's licensing requirements. What you should not do is select a college just because it happens to be the nearest to your home or it has cheapest tuition. There are other significant qualifications that need to be evaluated in addition to location and cost. But before we discuss what those qualifications are and the questions you should be asking, we'll cover what a physical therapist does and the options for education.

What is a Physical Therapist?

Avondale Arizona physical therapist helping woman to walk

Physical therapists work in diverse locations, including Avondale AZ hospitals, health clinics, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and sports facilities. What the facilities all share in common is that they are equipped for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As earlier touched on, physical therapists help individuals that are experiencing a lack of mobility and frequently pain caused by injury or illness. After diagnosing a patient, they create a course of treatment to deal with the mobility problems and lessen or eliminate any pain. They also try to stop any progression of the disability. Although the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are numerous, they include:

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

Licensed physical therapists practice in close affiliation with other Avondale AZ health professionals, including chiropractors, physicians, registered nurses and dentists. They can also oversee several physical therapy assistants who work under them in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. One thing to bear in mind for anyone considering getting into the physical therapy profession, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists often lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and kneel, crouch and stand for long periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degree Options

Avondale Arizona DPT working with man in pool

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

  • Associate Degrees prepare students to practice as 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 degrees are most often offered by community or junior colleges, and take about 2 years to complete. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is normally a portion of the curriculum.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapy training to prepare candidates to move up to the doctoral level. Although they are not a requirement to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an important initial step to becoming a PT. Similar to the majority of bachelor's degrees, they normally take four years to complete and usually incorporate 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). After earning the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes three years to complete, making the overall investment of time 7 years in most cases. Practical or clinical training is an essential component in addition to the extensive classroom and lab instruction. Consequently the completion of an internship is required, not only for graduation but in several 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 available in the United States. Some licensed physical therapists holding a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the existing licensing requirement for a doctorate was instituted.

Physical Therapist Colleges Online

Avondale Arizona woman taking physical therapy training onlineWhile not as common as the more traditional options, there are some accredited online physical therapy programs offered, more so at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on structure of the training, internships and clinical lab work are integrated with the online classes. This requires that the student live close to the college campus or nearby a sponsored internship. Fortunately, the online segment of the course of study can be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Avondale AZ residence. Online programs are not only partially more accessible, but in a number of instances more economical. Tuition can be significantly lower than comparable on campus options, and costs for commuting are reduced. And a number of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These advantages may make the online alternative the ideal choice for those students that are disciplined enough to attend classes at home.

Subjects to Ask Physical Therapy Programs

At this point you most likely have made a decision regarding some of your initial queries, including the kind of physical therapist degree you want to attain, where you want to attend classes, and how much you can afford to invest in your education. But considering there are numerous PT colleges within the Avondale AZ area and throughout Arizona, you'll have to explore other qualifications also in order to further reduce your list of school options. Also, you want to make certain that you select the school that is ideal for you. That's the reason we have collected a list of important questions that you need to ask the physical therapy colleges you are thinking about. Ask each of the competing colleges these questions prior to making a final selection.

Is the Physical Therapist School Accredited?  Ask if the programs you are reviewing have earned accreditation from a regional or a national organization. As earlier mentioned, 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 can also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapist school and program you enroll in are accredited, not just the school. Additionally, make sure that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Besides guaranteeing that you receive a quality education, accreditation may be mandated for state licensing as well as for getting student loans or financial assistance.

What is the Program's Reputation? Along with accreditation, it's important that the school and program you choose have exceptional reputations within the physical therapist community. There are multiple ways you can look into a PT program's reputation, starting with requesting references from employers that they place their graduates with. You can also search for online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Get in touch with a few Avondale AZ physical therapy clinics or other health care facilities that you might be interested in working for and ask if they can provide any advice about your program options. It might also be prudent to check with the Arizona Attorney General and school licensing authority to find out if any complaints have been filed against the colleges.

What is the College's Job Placement Percentage? There are a couple of important statistics that you should know about all of the physical therapy schools you are considering. First is their graduation rate. A lower rate might mean that students dropped out because of displeasure with the program, the instructors, or both. After the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being hired with the help of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Avondale AZ area? If a school has a high job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the healthcare community is good or perhaps excellent. It also verifies that the college has a large 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 program you select provides both exceptional training and a course of study that supports the licensing criteria 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 program. While licensing requirements differ state by state for PT and PTA graduates, some states require a minimum number of clinical hours be completed and passing scores on supplemental tests.

Are Internship Programs Sponsored? Inquire if the physical therapist programs you are evaluating have partnerships with Avondale AZ hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only a terrific manner to obtain practical experience in a clinical environment, they are additionally a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they can help graduates and students establish professional relationships in the Avondale healthcare community and help with obtaining employment once licensed.

How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of student that prefers to sit way in the rear 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 student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you a chance to speak with several of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapist program also.

Where is the Program Located? For a number of students, the physical therapist college they decide on will need to be within travelling distance of their Avondale AZ residence. Individuals who have decided to attend online classes naturally will not have to trouble 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 program that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges generally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges commonly charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Aid Provided? Most DPT colleges provide some type of financial support to their prospective students. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have a financial aid office and find out what kind of help is obtainable. At a minimum they should help in securing a student loan or any grants you might be eligible for. A number of physical therapy schools offer scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before eliminating a program because the tuition is too expensive, ask what financial aid might be available.

Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to verify that the physical therapist college you finally pick can provide the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you decide to continue working while attending school. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Avondale AZ area, confirm that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, check 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 might miss due to illness, work or family obligations.

Find Out More About Avondale Online Physical Therapy Schools

Enroll in the Right Avondale Physical Therapy School

Selecting the ideal physical therapy college is a necessary first decision you need to make to launch a rewarding career in the healthcare field. As we have discussed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and college you pick should both have exceptional reputations and accreditation. However there are additional important questions that you need to ask pertaining to your college of choice as well. As you start your search for a physical therapist program bear in mind that a number of variables will guide you toward your ultimate decision. You may want to visit 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 following our list of additional questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the options so you can make the appropriate choice. And with the proper education and training, you can achieve your dream of becoming a licensed physical therapist in Avondale Arizona.


 

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