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How to Select the Right Physical Therapist School Near Avra Valley Arizona

Avra Valley Arizona physical therapist working with woman using balance ballObtaining a physical therapy degree near Avra Valley AZ is a critical first step to launching a fulfilling career in the medical care field. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been debilitated due to illness or injury regain mobility and function. But before they can practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they need to obtain the appropriate training and education. A PT must also become licensed in every state, a large number requiring that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So before enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's necessary to research the ones you are looking at to ensure they will furnish a superior education and meet your state's licensing standards. 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 cheapest tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that must be considered in addition to location and cost. But before we talk about what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, we'll cover what a physical therapist does and what the educational options are.

What is a Physical Therapist?

Avra Valley Arizona physical therapist helping female patient to walk

Physical therapists work in diverse locations, including Avra Valley AZ hospitals, health clinics, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and health clubs. What the facilities all share in common is that they are equipped for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As earlier touched on, physical therapists help people 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 strive to stop any advancement of the disability. Although the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are abundant, they include:

  • Osteoporosis and Arthritis
  • Car or motor cycle accidents
  • Strokes
  • Heart attacks
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Fire injuries
  • Hip Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists work in close affiliation with other Avra Valley AZ health specialists, including chiropractors, physicians, dentists and nurses. They may also manage several physical therapy assistants who work for them assisting with diagnosing and treating their patients. Something to keep 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 extended periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapist Degree Options

Avra Valley Arizona physical therapist working with patient in pool

There are 3 physical therapist degrees available for students to pursue at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these choices, the one degree that is attainable 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 brief descriptions of degrees that are available to prospective students in the Avra Valley AZ area:

  • Associate Degrees train students to be physical therapy assistants, or can be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Applicants must have obtained a high school diploma or equivalent to qualify for enrollment. The degrees are typically offered by junior or community colleges, and require two years for completion. An internship or other form of clinical training is typically a component of the program.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapist training to ready students to advance to the doctoral level. Although they are not a requirement to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an essential initial step to becoming a PT. Similar to most bachelor's degrees, they typically require four years to complete and often incorporate an internship program of at least 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are mandated 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). In addition to the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes three years to complete, making the overall investment of time 7 years in the majority of cases. Clinical or practical training is an essential component in addition to the extensive lab and classroom instruction. Consequently the fulfillment of an internship is required, not solely for graduation but in some 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 offered in the USA. A number of licensed physical therapists holding a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the current licensing mandate for a doctorate was instituted.

Physical Therapy Schools Online

Avra Valley Arizona woman taking physical therapy training onlineAlthough not as common as the on campus alternatives, there are many accredited online physical therapy degrees available, more so at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on structure of the training, internships and clinical lab work are combined with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live close to the college campus or nearby an available internship. Fortunately, the online segment of the curriculum may be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Avra Valley AZ home. Online schools are not only partially more accessible, but in many cases more economical. Tuition might be somewhat lower than comparable on-campus alternatives, and expenditures for commuting are reduced. And a number of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These advantages may make the online option the right choice for those students that are disciplined enough to learn at home.

What to Ask Physical Therapy Programs

At this point you probably have made a decision concerning several of your preliminary queries, like the type of physical therapy degree you would like to earn, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to invest in your education. But considering there are so many PT colleges within the Avra Valley AZ area and throughout Arizona, you'll have to explore additional qualifications also in order to further reduce your list of college options. Moreover, you need to make sure that you choose the college that is ideal for you. That's why we have compiled a list of important questions that you must ask the physical therapist schools you are considering. Ask all of the competing colleges these questions prior to making a final decision.

Is the Physical Therapist Program Accredited?  Find out if the colleges you are looking at have received accreditation from a national or a regional agency. As previously stated, 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 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 just the school. Also, make sure that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. In addition to guaranteeing that you obtain an excellent 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 important that the college and program you select have excellent reputations within the physical therapy community. There are a number of ways you can research a PT program's reputation, beginning with asking for 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 as well. Get in touch with some Avra Valley AZ physical therapist centers or other healthcare facilities that you may have an interest in working for and ask if they can offer any advice about your program options. It might also be prudent 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 couple of important statistics that you need to find out about each of the physical therapist schools you are looking at. One is their graduation rate. A lower rate might mean that students left because of dissatisfaction with the program, the instructors, or both. After the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being placed in jobs with the assistance of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Avra Valley AZ area? If a program has a high job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the medical care field is good or perhaps outstanding. It also confirms that the program has a broad network of contacts to assist students get internships or jobs upon graduation.

Does the College Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the school you enroll in provides both excellent training and a curriculum that supports the licensing requirements for Arizona or the state where you will be working. In every 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 vary state by state for PT and PTA graduates, many states require a minimum number of clinical hours be completed and passing scores on supplemental tests.

Are Internships Offered? Ask if the physical therapy schools you are evaluating have associations with Avra Valley AZ hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent manner to get practical experience in a clinical setting, they are additionally a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they may assist graduates and students form professional connections in the Avra Valley medical community and help with obtaining employment after licensing.

How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of student that prefers to sit far in the rear of class or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a smaller class size. Small classes permit more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapy colleges you are considering what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to sit in on one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you a chance to talk with a few of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the physical therapist program as well.

Where is the School Located? For many students, the physical therapy college they select will have to be within travelling distance of their Avra Valley AZ residence. Students who have decided to attend classes online naturally will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of importance. Something to keep in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a college that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges typically charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges normally charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Assistance Offered? Most DPT colleges supply some form of financial aid to their prospective students. Ask if the schools you are considering have a financial assistance department and find out what kind of assistance is offered. At a minimum they should help in securing a student loan or any grants you might be eligible for. Some physical therapy colleges offer scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before eliminating a program because the tuition is beyond your budget, find out what financial aid might be available.

Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to verify that the physical therapy school you ultimately pick can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you opt to continue working while you attend classes. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Avra Valley AZ area, make certain 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 carry. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of illness, work or family obligations.

Find Out More About Avra Valley Physical Therapy Programs

Choose the Best Avra Valley Physical Therapy School

Deciding on the best physical therapist program is an important initial decision you must make to start a gratifying career in the medical profession. As we have addressed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and college you select should both have exceptional reputations and be accredited. However there are other important questions that you should ask concerning your school of choice as well. As you commence your search for a physical therapy college bear in mind that many variables will lead you to your final decision. You may want to visit different schools to view their facilities and speak to current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this college help me reach 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 necessary training and education, you can accomplish your dream to become a licensed physical therapist in Avra Valley Arizona.


 

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