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How to Pick the Right Physical Therapist Program Near Avra Valley Arizona

Avra Valley Arizona physical therapist working with female patient holding exercise ballObtaining a physical therapist degree near Avra Valley AZ is an important first step to launching a fulfilling career in the health care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been debilitated due to injury or illness regain mobility and function. But before they can practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they need to obtain the proper training and education. A PT must also be licensed in every state, a large number mandating that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So prior to selecting a physical therapy school, it's necessary to evaluate those you are looking at to ensure they will furnish a quality education and comply with your state's licensing standards. What you do not want to do is choose a school simply because it happens to be the nearest to your residence or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that need to be evaluated in addition to location and cost. But before we discuss 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?

Avra Valley Arizona physical therapist helping female patient to walk

Physical therapists work in a variety of settings, such as Avra Valley AZ private practices, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and sports facilities. What the facilities all share in common is that they have the equipment for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As earlier stated, physical therapists help people that are suffering from a lack of mobility and often pain caused by illness or injury. After patient diagnosis, they design a program of treatment to deal with the mobility problems and reduce or eradicate any pain. They also try to stop any advancement of the disability. Though the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Car or motor cycle accidents
  • Strokes
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Sports injuries
  • Burn injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Cerebral Palsy

Licensed physical therapists work in close affiliation with other Avra Valley AZ medical specialists, including doctors, chiropractors, dentists and nurses. They can also manage several physical therapy assistants who work under them assisting with diagnosing and treating their patients. One thing to bear in mind for anyone thinking about going into the physical therapy profession, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and kneel, crouch and stand for long periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degrees

Avra Valley Arizona DPT working with patient in pool

There are three physical therapy degree options available for individuals to enroll in at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these options, the single degree that is offered that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees concentrate on either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or readying them to advance to the doctoral level. Following are short descriptions of degrees that are available to prospective students in the Avra Valley AZ area:

  • Associate Degrees educate students to practice as physical therapy assistants, or can be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Candidates must have earned a high school diploma or equivalent to qualify for enrollment. The degrees are usually offered by community colleges, and take about two years to complete. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is usually part of the program.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapist education to ready candidates to move up to the doctoral level. While they are not a requirement to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an important preliminary step to becoming a PT. As with most bachelor's degrees, they normally require 4 years to complete and often include an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are required 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 3 years to finish, making the overall commitment seven years in most cases. Clinical or practical training is an intregal element in addition to the considerable lab and classroom instruction. Consequently the completion of an internship is required, not just for graduation but in a number of states for licensing as well.

The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) has replaced the Master's of Physical Therapy (MPT), which has been phased out and is no longer available in the United States. Some practicing physical therapists holding a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the existing licensing requirement for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapy Colleges Online

Avra Valley Arizona female student taking physical therapist classes onlineWhile not as common as the on campus alternatives, there are many accredited online physical therapist programs available, even more at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on nature of the training, internships and clinical lab work are combined with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live near the college campus or in proximity of a sponsored internship. Fortunately, the online portion of the curriculum may be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Avra Valley AZ residence. Online schools are not only to some extent more accessible, but in many instances more affordable. Tuition can be significantly less than similar on-campus options, and expenditures for commuting are minimized. And a number of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These advantages can make the online option the ideal choice for those students that are dedicated enough to attend classes at home.

Subjects to Ask Physical Therapy Schools

At this point you most likely have made a decision concerning some of your initial queries, like the type of physical therapist degree you would like to attain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much you can afford to spend for your education. But because there are numerous PT colleges within the Avra Valley AZ area and across Arizona, you'll need to look into additional qualifications also in order to further narrow your list of school options. Furthermore, you need to be sure that you enroll in the program that is ideal for you. That's why we have compiled a list of essential questions that you must ask the physical therapy schools you are reviewing. Ask all of the competing schools these questions prior to making an ultimate decision.

Is the Physical Therapist College Accredited?  Find out if the colleges you are looking at have received accreditation from a national or a regional agency. 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 enroll in an online school, it may 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 simply the school. Additionally, verify that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Along with ensuring that you receive a quality education, accreditation may be mandated for state licensing as well as for securing student loans or financial assistance.

What is the School's Standing? Along with accreditation, it's imperative that the school and program you pick have outstanding reputations within the physical therapist profession. There are multiple ways you can research a PT school's reputation, starting with requesting references from employers that they place their graduates with. You may also check online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. Get in touch with a few Avra Valley AZ physical therapist clinics or other health care facilities that you may be interested in working for and ask if they can give you any recommendations 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 Program's Job Placement Rate? There are a two useful statistics that you need to find out about each of the physical therapy schools you are considering. First is their graduation rate. A low rate might mean that students dropped out because of dissatisfaction with the program, the teachers, 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 Avra Valley AZ area? If a program has a higher job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the medical care community is good or perhaps exceptional. It also affirms that the college has a broad network of contacts to assist students gain internships or employment upon graduation.

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

Are Internships Offered? Find out if the physical therapy colleges you are evaluating have partnerships with Avra Valley AZ hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only a terrific manner to obtain practical training in a clinical setting, they are also a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they can assist students and graduates form professional connections in the Avra Valley medical community and help with job placement once licensed.

What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the type of person that prefers to sit far in the back of class or get lost in the crowd, you will likely prefer a small class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapy colleges you are looking at what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you an opportunity to converse with a few of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the physical therapist program as well.

Where is the School Located? For a number of students, the physical therapist school they decide on will have to be within driving distance of their Avra Valley AZ residence. Students who have decided 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 concern. Something to keep 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 normally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges typically charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.

Is Financial Aid Offered? The majority of DPT schools supply some form of financial support to their prospective students. Find out if the colleges you are examining have a financial assistance department and find out what kind of assistance is available. They at least should help in securing a student loan or any scholarships you might qualify for. Some physical therapy colleges offer scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before you eliminate a program because the tuition is too expensive, find out what financial assistance may be available.

Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to verify that the physical therapy 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 need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Avra Valley AZ area, confirm that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would have to enroll in. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Learn More About Avra Valley Physical Therapy Courses

Enroll in the Best Avra Valley Physical Therapist School

Deciding on the ideal physical therapist school is a necessary initial decision you must make to start a fulfilling career in the healthcare profession. As we have addressed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and school you select should both have outstanding reputations and be accredited. But there are additional important questions that you need to ask pertaining to your school of choice as well. As you begin your search for a physical therapist program keep in mind that numerous variables will guide you to your ultimate decision. You may want to go to different schools to view their facilities and talk to active 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 additional questions, you will be able to narrow down the field so you can make the best selection. And with the necessary training and education, you can accomplish your dream to become a licensed physical therapist in Avra Valley Arizona.


 

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