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How to Pick the Right Physical Therapy School Near Avra Valley Arizona

Avra Valley Arizona physical therapist working with woman holding exercise ballReceiving a physical therapist degree near Avra Valley AZ is an important first step to launching a fulfilling career in the healthcare field. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been debilitated as a result of injury or illness gain back function and mobility. But before they can practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they must get the necessary training and education. A PT must additionally be licensed in all states, many requiring that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So before choosing a physical therapy school, it's essential to evaluate those you are thinking about to make sure they will furnish a superior education and comply with your state's licensing standards. What you should not do is select a school just because it happens to be the closest to your residence or it has the most affordable 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 what the educational options are.

What is a Physical Therapist's Job Description?

Avra Valley Arizona physical therapist assisting woman to walk

Physical therapists practice in diverse settings, including 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 the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As earlier stated, physical therapists help patients that are struggling with a lack of mobility and in many cases pain caused by illness or injury. After patient diagnosis, they design a program of treatment to resolve the mobility problems and lessen or eliminate any pain. They also strive to prevent any progression of the disability. Although the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are abundant, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Car or motor cycle accidents
  • Head injuries
  • Heart attacks
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Fire injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists work in close partnerships with other Avra Valley AZ health specialists, including doctors, chiropractors, registered nurses and dentists. They may also manage one or more physical therapy assistants who work for them assisting with diagnosing and treating their patients. Something to take note of for anyone thinking about going into the physical therapy field, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and kneel, crouch and stand for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degrees Available

Avra Valley Arizona physical therapist working with patient in pool

There are three physical therapist degrees available for students to enroll in at the undergraduate and graduate 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 explanations 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 may 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 programs are usually provided by community or junior colleges, and take about two years for completion. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is typically part of the course of study.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapy education to prepare students to move up to the doctoral level. While they are not required to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an essential preliminary step to practicing as a PT. As with the majority of bachelor's degrees, they generally take four years to complete and usually incorporate an internship program of at least 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are mandated in order to become a licensed practicing physical therapist. The degree program must also 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 commitment seven years in most cases. Clinical or practical training is an intregal component in addition to the considerable classroom and lab instruction. Consequently the fulfillment of an internship is mandated, not solely for graduation but in a number of 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. A number of licensed physical therapists having a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the current licensing mandate for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapist Colleges Online

Avra Valley Arizona woman taking physical therapy training onlineWhile not as prevalent as the on campus alternatives, there are some accredited online physical therapy degrees available, more so 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. However, the online portion of the program may be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Avra Valley AZ home. Online schools are not only to some extent more accessible, but in a number of cases more economical. Tuition can be somewhat less than similar on campus alternatives, and expenses for commuting are minimized. And many of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These benefits may make the online option the ideal choice for those students that are motivated enough to learn at home.

Subjects to Ask Physical Therapist Colleges

By now you undoubtedly have come to decision regarding some of your initial questions, like the kind of physical therapist degree you would like to attain, where you want to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to invest in 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 in order to further reduce your list of school choices. Moreover, you need to be sure that you pick the program that is best for you. That's why we have collected a list of important questions that you must ask the physical therapist colleges you are reviewing. Ask each of the potential colleges these questions prior to making a final selection.

Is the Physical Therapy College Accredited?  Find out if the colleges you are considering have received accreditation from a regional or a national organization. As previously 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 program, it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapist program and school you choose are accredited, not simply the school. Also, verify that the accreditation is through 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 and even for getting student loans or financial aid.

What is the Program's Ranking? Along with accreditation, it's important that the college and program you pick have outstanding reputations within the physical therapy community. There are a number of ways you can look into a PT school's reputation, beginning with requesting references from employers that they refer their students to. You may also search for online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Contact several Avra Valley AZ physical therapist centers or other healthcare facilities that you may have an interest in working for and ask if they can provide any insight about your college selections. It may also be a good idea to contact the Arizona Attorney General and school licensing authority to find out if any complaints have been submitted against the schools.

What is the School's Job Placement Percentage? There are a two important 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 may suggest that students dropped out due to dissatisfaction with the program, the teachers, or both. After the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being placed in jobs with the support of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Avra Valley AZ area? If a program has a high job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the health care field is good or perhaps excellent. It also confirms that the program has a wide network of contacts to assist students get internships or jobs upon graduation.

Does the College Support Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the school you choose provides 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) as well as a degree from an accredited physical therapy school. Although licensing requirements fluctuate 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 additional exams.

Are Internships Provided? Ask if the physical therapy colleges you are assessing have associations with Avra Valley AZ hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific means to get practical experience in a clinical setting, they are additionally a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they may assist graduates and students establish professional connections in the Avra Valley medical community and assist with obtaining employment once licensed.

What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of person that prefers to sit way in the back of class or hide in the crowd, you will probably prefer a small class size. Small classes permit more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapist colleges you are considering what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classes. 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 converse with a few of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapy program also.

Where is the School Located? For a number of students, the physical therapy college they pick will need to be within commuting distance of their Avra Valley AZ residence. Those who have opted to attend online classes naturally will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. Something to bear in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a school 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 to those students that live outside of their districts.

Is Financial Support Offered? Most DPT colleges offer some form of financial aid to their prospective students. Ask if the schools you are looking at have a financial assistance office and see what type of help is available. At a minimum they should help in obtaining a student loan or any grants you might qualify for. Some physical therapist colleges provide scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before eliminating a college because the tuition is beyond your budget, learn what financial aid may be available.

Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must verify that the physical therapist college you ultimately pick can provide the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you opt to continue working while attending classes. 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, verify if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would need to enroll in. Also, learn what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Avra Valley Online Physical Therapist Courses

Choose the Right Avra Valley Physical Therapy School

Choosing the ideal physical therapist school is a necessary initial decision you need to 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 pick should both have exceptional reputations and accreditation. But there are additional important questions that you should ask regarding your school of choice as well. As you start your search for a physical therapy program keep in mind that numerous factors will lead you toward your ultimate decision. You may want to visit each of the campuses to see their facilities and speak to current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this school help me realize my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By adhering to our list of additional questions, you will be able to narrow down the options so you can make the best selection. And with the necessary education and training, you can achieve your dream to become a licensed physical therapist in Avra Valley Arizona.


 

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