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How to Find the Right Physical Therapy Degree Program Near Avra Valley Arizona

Avra Valley Arizona physical therapist working with female patient using balance ballEarning a physical therapy degree near Avra Valley AZ is a critical first step to beginning a fulfilling career in the healthcare field. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been debilitated due to injury or illness gain back function and mobility. But before they may legally practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they must obtain the appropriate education and training. A PT must additionally be licensed in all states, a large number requiring that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So before selecting a physical therapy school, it's necessary to investigate the ones you are looking at to ensure they will furnish a superior education and meet your state's licensing criteria. What you should not do is choose a college just because it happens to be the closest to your residence or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that need to be evaluated besides cost and location. But before we discuss what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, we'll cover what a physical therapist does and the options for education.

What is a Physical Therapist?

Avra Valley Arizona physical therapist assisting female patient to walk

Physical therapists practice in a variety of settings, including Avra Valley AZ hospitals, health clinics, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and sports facilities. What the facilities all share in common is that they have the equipment for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As earlier stated, physical therapists help people that are struggling with a lack of mobility and in many cases pain due to illness or injury. After patient diagnosis, they create a course of treatment to resolve the mobility problems and lessen or eliminate any pain. They also try to prevent any progression of the disability. Though the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are abundant, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Head injuries
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Sports injuries
  • Burn injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Cerebral Palsy

Licensed physical therapists work in close partnerships with other Avra Valley AZ medical professionals, including doctors, chiropractors, registered nurses and dentists. They may also supervise one or more physical therapy assistants who work for them assisting with the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. One thing to bear in mind for anyone considering going into the physical therapy profession, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists often lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and stand, crouch and kneel for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degrees Available

Avra Valley Arizona DPT working with patient in pool

There are 3 physical therapist degree options offered for students to enroll in at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these options, the one degree that is attainable that qualifies the graduate to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees concentrate on either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or readying them to progress to the doctoral level. Below are brief descriptions of degrees that are offered to prospective students in the Avra Valley AZ area:

  • Associate Degrees train students to become 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 usually offered by junior or community colleges, and require 2 years for completion. An internship or other form of clinical training is normally part of the program.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapist training to prep students to progress to the doctoral level. Although they are not required to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an essential first step to becoming a PT. As with most bachelor's degrees, they normally take 4 years to finish 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 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 finish, making the total commitment seven years in most cases. Clinical training is an essential element along with the substantial lab and classroom instruction. Consequently the completion of an internship is mandated, not solely 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 phased out and is no longer available in the United States. Some licensed physical therapists holding a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the present licensing requirement for a doctorate was instituted.

Physical Therapy Programs Online

Avra Valley Arizona female student taking physical therapy training onlineWhile not as common as the more traditional alternatives, there are a number of accredited online physical therapy degrees offered, even more at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on nature of the training, clinical lab work and internships are integrated with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live close to the college campus or in proximity of an available internship. Fortunately, the online portion of the course of study can be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Avra Valley AZ residence. Online schools are not only partially more accessible, but in a number of cases more affordable. Tuition may be somewhat less than similar on campus alternatives, and expenses for commuting are reduced. And many of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These advantages can make the online alternative the right choice for those students that are motivated enough to learn at home.

Questions to Ask Physical Therapist Colleges

By now you undoubtedly have come to decision concerning several of your initial queries, like the type of physical therapy degree you would like to earn, where you want to attend classes, and how much you can afford to invest in your education. But because there are so many PT schools within the Avra Valley AZ area and across Arizona, you'll have to explore other qualifications also in order to further reduce your list of school options. Moreover, you want to make certain that you enroll in the college that is right for you. That's the reason we have put together a list of critical questions that you need to ask the physical therapy colleges you are reviewing. Ask all of the potential schools these questions prior to making an ultimate decision.

Is the Physical Therapist School Accredited?  Find out if the colleges you are looking at have earned accreditation from a regional or a national organization. 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 select an online school, it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's essential that both the physical therapist program and school you choose are accredited, not simply the school. Additionally, verify that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Besides ensuring that you obtain a quality education, accreditation might be mandated for state licensing as well as for securing student loans or financial assistance.

What is the College's Reputation? Along with accreditation, it's imperative that the school and program you choose have excellent reputations within the physical therapy profession. There are a number of ways you can look into a PT college's reputation, starting with asking for references from employers that they place their graduates with. You may 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 medical care facilities that you might be interested in working for and ask if they can provide any advice about your college selections. It might also be prudent to check with the Arizona Attorney General and school licensing authority to find out if any complaints have been submitted against the colleges.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? There are a two significant statistics that you need to find out about each of the physical therapy colleges you are considering. One is their graduation rate. A lower rate might suggest that students left due to dissatisfaction with the program, the instructors, or both. After the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being hired with the assistance of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Avra Valley AZ area? If a school has a high job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the medical care field is good or even exceptional. It also verifies that the program has a large network of contacts to assist students obtain internships or jobs upon graduation.

Does the College Support Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the college you choose furnishes both superior training and a course of study that supports the licensing criteria 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) in addition to a degree from an accredited physical therapist school. While licensing requirements differ state by state for PT and PTA graduates, many states require a minimum number of clinical hours be completed as well as passing scores on additional exams.

Are Internships Offered? Ask if the physical therapist colleges you are interested in have relationships with Avra Valley AZ clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific way to obtain hands on training in a clinical environment, they are also a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they may help graduates and students develop professional relationships in the Avra Valley healthcare community and assist with obtaining employment after licensing.

What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the kind of student that likes to sit way in the back of class or get lost in the crowd, you will likely want 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 classrooms. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you an opportunity to speak with some of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapy program also.

Where is the Program Located? For many students, the physical therapy college they pick will need to be within travelling distance of their Avra Valley AZ home. Individuals who have opted to attend classes online obviously will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of importance. Something to consider is that if you choose to enroll in a program that is out of state or even 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 for those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Assistance Provided? The majority of DPT colleges supply some form of financial support to their prospective students. Find out if the colleges you are considering have a financial aid office and see what type of aid is offered. At a minimum they should help in getting a student loan or any scholarships you may qualify for. A number of physical therapy schools provide scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before you eliminate a school because the tuition is too expensive, ask what financial aid may be available.

Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to verify that the physical therapist college you ultimately pick can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you choose to continue working while you attend school. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Avra Valley AZ area, confirm that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, find out if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would have to carry. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss due to work, illness or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Avra Valley Physical Therapy Degrees

Enroll in the Best Avra Valley Physical Therapist School

Picking the ideal physical therapy college is an important initial decision you must make to launch a fulfilling career in the health care field. As we have addressed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and college you choose should both have excellent reputations and be accredited. But there are other important questions that you should ask concerning your school of choice as well. As you start your search for a physical therapist program bear in mind that a number of factors will lead you toward your final decision. You might want to go to different campuses to see their facilities and speak to active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this college help me reach my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By adhering to our list of additional questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the field so you can make the appropriate selection. And with the proper education and training, you can fulfill your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in Avra Valley Arizona.


 

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