How to Find the Right Physical Therapist School Near Avondale Arizona
Receiving a physical therapy degree near Avondale AZ is an essential first step to starting a fulfilling career in the healthcare industry. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been debilitated as a result of illness or injury regain function and mobility. But before they can practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they need to receive the necessary training and education. A PT must also be licensed in every state, many mandating that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So before selecting a physical therapy school, it's important to evaluate the ones you are thinking about to make certain they will furnish a quality education and satisfy your state's licensing criteria. What you should not do is select a college simply because it happens to be the closest to your home or it has cheapest tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that must 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?
Physical therapists practice in a variety of locations, such as Avondale AZ private practices, hospitals, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and health clubs. What the facilities all share in common is that they are equipped for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As previously stated, physical therapists help people that are experiencing a lack of mobility and frequently pain due to injury or illness. After patient diagnosis, they design a program of treatment to resolve the mobility problems and lessen or eliminate any pain. They also endeavor to prevent any advancement of the disability. Though the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are abundant, they include:
- Osteoporosis and Arthritis
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Head injuries
- Cardiac arrest
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Burn injuries
- Knee Replacement
- Cerebral Palsy
Licensed physical therapists work in close partnerships with other Avondale AZ health specialists, including chiropractors, physicians, registered nurses and dentists. They can also supervise one or more physical therapy assistants who work for them in diagnosing and treating their patients. One thing to take note of for anyone considering going into the physical therapy field, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift patients and heavy equipment, and kneel, crouch and stand for long periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapist Degrees
There are three physical therapy degrees available for individuals to enroll in at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these choices, the only degree that is available that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees emphasize either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or readying them to progress to the doctoral level. Below are short descriptions of degrees that are available to prospective students in the Avondale AZ area:
- Associate Degrees prepare students to practice as physical therapy assistants, or can be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Applicants must have obtained a high school diploma or GED to qualify for enrollment. The programs are usually offered by junior or community colleges, and take about two years to complete. An internship or other form of clinical training is usually part of the curriculum.
- Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapist training to prepare candidates to advance to the doctoral level. Although they are not a requirement to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an essential first step to practicing as a PT. As with the majority of bachelor's degrees, they generally take four years to complete and often incorporate an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
- Doctorate Degrees are required if you want 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 three years to complete, making the total commitment 7 years in the majority of cases. Clinical training is an intregal element along with the considerable classroom and lab instruction. Consequently the fulfillment of an internship is required, not solely 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 eliminated and is no longer attainable in the USA. Some licensed physical therapists having 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 Programs
While not as common as the on campus alternatives, 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 combined with the online classes. This requires that the student live near the school campus or in proximity of a sponsored internship. Fortunately, the online segment of the curriculum may be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Avondale AZ home. Online programs are not only partially more accessible, but in many instances more affordable. Tuition can be somewhat less than similar on-campus options, and expenditures for commuting are minimized. And many of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These advantages may make the online option the right choice for those students that are disciplined enough to attend classes at home.
Subjects to Ask Physical Therapy Schools
At this point you undoubtedly have come to decision concerning several of your preliminary questions, including the type of physical therapist degree you intend to obtain, where you want to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to invest in your education. But because there are numerous PT schools within the Avondale AZ area and throughout Arizona, you'll have to research additional qualifications also in order to further reduce your list of school choices. Moreover, you want to make certain that you pick the program that is best for you. That's why we have put together a list of essential questions that you need to ask the physical therapy programs you are reviewing. Ask all of the competing schools these questions before making a final decision.
Is the Physical Therapist Program Accredited? Find out if the programs you are reviewing have received accreditation from a national or a regional agency. As earlier stated, 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 school, it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapy school and program you choose are accredited, not simply the school. Additionally, make sure that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Besides ensuring that you receive an excellent education, accreditation may be mandated for state licensing as well as for getting student loans or financial assistance.
What is the Program's Standing? Along with accreditation, it's important that the school and program you choose have outstanding reputations within the physical therapist profession. There are a number of ways you can research a PT program's reputation, starting with asking for references from employers that they place their graduates with. You can also search for online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. Call a few Avondale AZ physical therapist clinics or other health care facilities that you may be interested in working for and ask if they can provide 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 colleges.
What is the School's Job Placement Percentage? There are a couple of relevant statistics that you should find out about each of the physical therapist colleges you are considering. First is their graduation rate. A low rate may suggest that students left due to displeasure with the program, the teachers, or both. Once the students have graduated, how many of them are being placed in jobs with the assistance of the college'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 community is good or even excellent. It also verifies that the college has a broad network of contacts to assist students gain internships or jobs after graduation.
Does the School Support Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the school you select provides both excellent training and a course of study that supports the licensing criteria for Arizona or the state where you will be practicing. In each state a passing score is needed on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapy school. While licensing requirements differ state by state for PT and PTA graduates, many states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be performed and passing scores on additional tests.
Are Internships Offered? Find out if the physical therapist colleges you are interested in have associations with Avondale AZ hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only a great means to get hands on experience in a clinical environment, they are also a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they may help students and graduates establish professional relationships in the Avondale health care community and assist with obtaining employment after licensing.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of person that prefers to sit way in the back of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will likely want a smaller class size. Small classes permit more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapy schools you are reviewing what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you an opportunity to speak with several of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapist program as well.
Where is the Program Located? For many students, the physical therapy college they choose will need to be within commuting distance of their Avondale AZ home. Individuals who have opted to attend online classes naturally will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. One thing to consider 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 often charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges usually charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.
Is Financial Support Provided? The majority of DPT colleges supply some type of financial support to their potential students. Inquire if the schools you are examining have a financial assistance office and see what type of help is available. They at least should help in obtaining a student loan or any scholarships you may qualify for. Some physical therapist colleges offer scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before you eliminate a college because the tuition is beyond your budget, ask what financial assistance might be available.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must verify that the physical therapist school you ultimately pick can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly essential if you choose to continue working while attending school. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Avondale AZ area, make sure that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would need to carry. Also, find out what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss as a result of illness, work or family obligations.
Choose the Right Avondale Physical Therapy School
Choosing the best physical therapist college is an important initial decision you must make to begin a fulfilling career in the medical profession. As we have covered in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and school you choose should both have exceptional reputations and accreditation. But there are other critical questions that you need to ask regarding your college of choice as well. As you begin your search for a physical therapy college keep in mind that a number of variables will guide you to your final decision. You may decide to go to different schools to see their facilities and speak with current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this program help me achieve 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 best choice. And with the proper education and training, you can fulfill your dream of becoming a practicing physical therapist in Avondale Arizona.