How to Choose the Right Physical Therapist Degree Program Near Avra Valley Arizona
Getting a physical therapy degree near Avra Valley AZ is an important first step to beginning a fulfilling career in the health care field. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been disabled as a result of injury or illness gain back function and mobility. But before they may legally practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they need to get 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 school. So prior to enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's essential to evaluate the ones you are looking at to make sure they will furnish a quality education and comply with your state's licensing criteria. What you do not want to do is choose a school simply because it happens to be the nearest to your home or it has cheapest tuition. There are other important qualifications that need to be considered besides cost and location. But before we cover what those qualifications are and the questions you should be asking, we'll address what a physical therapist does and the options for education.
What Do Physical Therapists Do?
Physical therapists practice in diverse settings, such as Avra Valley AZ private practices, hospitals, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and health clubs. What the facilities all have in common is that they have the equipment for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As previously touched on, physical therapists help individuals that are struggling with a lack of mobility and often pain due to injury or illness. After diagnosing a patient, they create a course of treatment to address the mobility problems and reduce or eliminate any pain. They also endeavor to stop any progression of the disability. Though the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are numerous, they include:
- Osteoporosis and Arthritis
- Car or motor cycle accidents
- Head injuries
- Heart attacks
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Fire injuries
- Hip Replacement
- Cerebral Palsy
Licensed physical therapists practice in close affiliation with other Avra Valley AZ health professionals, including chiropractors, physicians, registered nurses and dentists. They may also oversee several physical therapy assistants who work under them in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. Something to keep in mind for anyone thinking about entering the physical therapy profession, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists routinely lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and stand, crouch and kneel for extended periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapy Degrees Offered
There are 3 physical therapy degrees offered for individuals to pursue at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these alternatives, the single degree that is offered that qualifies the graduate to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees focus on either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or prepping them to advance to the doctoral level. Below are brief explanations of degrees that are available to prospective students in the Avra Valley AZ area:
- Associate Degrees educate students to become physical therapy assistants, or may be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Candidates must have earned a high school diploma or GED to qualify for enrollment. The programs are typically made available by community or junior colleges, and require two years for completion. An internship or other form of clinical training is typically a portion of the program.
- Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapy education to prep students to move up to the doctoral level. Although they are not required to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an integral initial step to practicing as a PT. Similar to the majority of bachelor's degrees, they typically require 4 years to finish and commonly incorporate an internship program of at least 500 hours.
- Doctorate Degrees are mandated if you want to become a practicing licensed 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 investment of time 7 years in the majority of cases. Clinical or practical training is an intregal element in addition to the considerable classroom and lab instruction. Therefor the fulfillment of an internship is mandated, not only for graduation but in several states for licensing also.
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 offered in the United States. Some licensed 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 instituted.
Physical Therapy Schools Online
Although not as common as the on-campus options, there are a number of accredited online physical therapy programs offered, even more at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on structure of the training, clinical lab work and internships are combined with the online classes. This requires that the student live close to the school campus or in proximity of an available internship. However, the online portion of the curriculum may be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Avra Valley AZ residence. Online programs are not only partially more accessible, but in a number of instances more economical. Tuition might be significantly less than similar on-campus options, and expenses for commuting are minimized. And many of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These advantages can make the online option the ideal choice for those students that are motivated enough to learn at home.
Questions to Ask Physical Therapist Programs
By now you most likely have made a decision concerning some of your initial questions, like the type of physical therapist degree you would like to attain, where you want to attend classes, and how much you can afford to spend for your education. But since there are numerous PT colleges within the Avra Valley AZ area and throughout Arizona, you'll need to research additional qualifications also so as to further reduce your list of school options. Moreover, you want to make certain that you choose the college that is right for you. That's why we have put together a list of essential questions that you must ask the physical therapist schools you are reviewing. Ask all of the competing schools these questions before making an ultimate decision.
Is the Physical Therapy School Accredited? Find out if the programs you are looking at have received 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 college, it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapy program and school you choose are accredited, not just the school. Also, verify that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Along with ensuring that you receive a quality education, accreditation may be required for state licensing and even for getting student loans or financial aid.
What is the College's Ranking? Along with accreditation, it's essential that the college and program you select have outstanding reputations within the physical therapist community. There are multiple ways you can investigate a PT school's reputation, starting with requesting references from employers that they place their graduates with. You can also check online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Call several Avra Valley AZ physical therapy clinics or other medical care facilities that you may be interested in working for and ask if they can offer any recommendations about your college selections. It may 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 Program's Job Placement Percentage? There are a two significant statistics that you should know about all of the physical therapy schools you are reviewing. One is their graduation rate. A low rate may indicate that students left due to dissatisfaction with the program, the teachers, or both. Once the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being hired with the support of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Avra Valley AZ area? If a college has a high job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the medical care field is good or even outstanding. It also confirms that the school has a broad network of contacts to help students gain internships or employment after graduation.
Does the College Support Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the program you select provides both excellent training and a course of study that supports the licensing requirements 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) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapist school. While licensing requirements vary state by state for PTA and PT graduates, a number of states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be completed and passing scores on supplemental tests.
Are Internships Offered? Inquire if the physical therapist programs you are assessing have relationships with Avra Valley AZ clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships an excellent means to obtain practical experience in a clinical environment, they are also a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they may help students and graduates form professional relationships in the Avra Valley medical community and help with job placement after licensing.
What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the kind of student that prefers to sit far in the back of class or hide in the crowd, you will likely want a smaller class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapy schools you are researching what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you a chance to speak with several of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapy program also.
Where is the College Located? For many students, the physical therapy school they decide on will need to be within driving distance of their Avra Valley AZ home. Those who have opted to attend online classes obviously will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of importance. One thing to bear in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a college that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges commonly charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges often charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.
Is Financial Support Offered? Most DPT colleges supply some form of financial assistance to their prospective students. Ask if the schools you are looking at have a financial assistance department and find out what type of help is available. They at least should help in getting a student loan or any scholarships you may qualify for. A number of physical therapy colleges provide scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before you eliminate a program because the tuition is beyond your budget, find out what financial assistance may be available.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to verify that the physical therapist school you finally pick can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you opt to continue working while attending school. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Avra Valley AZ area, check that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, find out if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would have to enroll in. Also, find out what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Avra Valley Physical Therapy School
Picking the ideal physical therapist school is an important first decision you need to make to begin a fulfilling career in the healthcare field. As we have covered in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and college you enroll in should both have excellent reputations and be accredited. But there are other relevant questions that you need to ask concerning your school of choice as well. As you commence your search for a physical therapist school bear in mind that many variables will guide you toward your ultimate decision. You might want to visit different colleges to view their facilities and talk with current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this college help me accomplish my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By following our list of additional questions, you will be able to narrow down the options so you can make the ideal selection. And with the proper training and education, you can accomplish your dream of becoming a practicing physical therapist in Avra Valley Arizona.