How to Enroll In the Right Physical Therapist School Near Big Park Arizona
Getting a physical therapist degree near Big Park AZ is a critical first step to starting a fulfilling career in the healthcare industry. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been incapacitated due to injury or illness gain back function and mobility. But before they can practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they need to receive the necessary education and training. A PT must also be licensed in all states, many mandating that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So prior to selecting a physical therapy school, it's important to evaluate the ones you are looking at to ensure they will deliver a superior education and comply with your state's licensing standards. What you should not do is choose a school just because it happens to be the closest to your home or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that need to be considered in addition to cost and location. But before we cover what those qualifications are and the questions you should be asking, we'll cover what a physical therapist does and the options for education.
What is a Physical Therapist?
Physical therapists work in a variety of settings, such as Big Park AZ private practices, hospitals, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and sports facilities. What the facilities all share in common is that they are equipped for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As earlier mentioned, physical therapists help people that are experiencing a lack of mobility and often pain caused by injury or illness. After diagnosing a patient, they create a program of treatment to resolve the mobility problems and reduce or eradicate any pain. They also endeavor to prevent any advancement of the disability. While the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are numerous, they include:
- Osteoporosis and Arthritis
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Heart attacks
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Fire injuries
- Knee Replacement
- Multiple Sclerosis
Licensed physical therapists practice in close partnerships with other Big Park AZ medical professionals, including doctors, chiropractors, registered nurses and dentists. They may also manage one or more physical therapy assistants who work for them in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. Something to take note of for anyone thinking about entering the physical therapy field, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift patients and heavy equipment, and kneel, crouch and stand for extended periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapist Degree Options
There are 3 physical therapist degrees offered for students to pursue at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these choices, the one degree that is offered that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees focus on either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or readying them to progress to the doctoral level. Below are short descriptions of degrees that are offered to prospective students in the Big Park AZ area:
- Associate Degrees educate students to practice as physical therapy assistants, or can be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Candidates must have a high school diploma or GED to be accepted for enrollment. The programs are typically offered by junior or community colleges, and require 2 years to complete. An internship or other form of clinical training is typically a component of the curriculum.
- Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapist education 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 the majority of bachelor's degrees, they typically take 4 years to finish and often include 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 finish, making the overall investment of time seven years in the majority of cases. Clinical training is an intregal component in addition to the substantial classroom and lab instruction. Consequently the completion 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 practicing physical therapists holding a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the current licensing mandate for a doctorate was implemented.
Physical Therapy Colleges Online
Although not as common as the more traditional options, there are some accredited online physical therapy programs available, even more at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on nature 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 in proximity of an available internship. However, the online part of the curriculum can be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Big Park AZ residence. Online programs are not only partially more accessible, but in many instances more affordable. Tuition might be significantly lower than similar on campus options, and costs 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 alternative the ideal choice for those students that are dedicated enough to learn at home.
What to Ask Physical Therapy Schools
At this point you most likely have come to decision regarding some of your preliminary queries, like the type of physical therapy degree you would like to attain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to spend for your education. But since there are numerous PT schools within the Big Park AZ area and throughout Arizona, you'll need to look into other qualifications also so as to further reduce your list of school options. Also, you need to be sure that you pick the program that is ideal for you. That's why we have compiled a list of important questions that you need to ask the physical therapist programs you are considering. Ask all of the potential colleges these questions prior to making a final selection.
Is the Physical Therapy School Accredited? Find out if the programs you are reviewing have received accreditation from a regional or a national organization. As previously mentioned, if you are pursuing a doctorate the program must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). If you choose an online school, it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's essential that both the physical therapy program and school you choose are accredited, not simply the school. Also, check that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Besides ensuring that you receive an excellent education, accreditation may be required for state licensing and even for securing student loans or financial assistance.
What is the School's Standing? In addition to accreditation, it's imperative that the school and program you pick have exceptional reputations within the physical therapy community. There are a number of ways you can research a PT school's reputation, starting with asking for references from employers that they place their graduates with. You can also search for online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. Get in touch with several Big Park AZ physical therapist clinics or other medical care facilities that you may have an interest 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 schools.
What is the College's Job Placement Percentage? There are a two useful statistics that you should know about each of the physical therapy programs you are looking at. First is their graduation rate. A low rate might indicate that students left because of displeasure with the program, the instructors, or both. Once the students have graduated, how many of them are being hired with the assistance of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Big Park AZ area? If a college has a higher job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the health care field is good or perhaps exceptional. It also affirms that the program has a large network of contacts to assist students obtain internships or employment upon graduation.
Does the Program Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's important that the college you enroll in provides both superior training and a curriculum 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 therapy program. While licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PTA and PT graduates, a number of states require a minimum number of clinical hours be completed and passing scores on additional tests.
Are Internship Programs Sponsored? Inquire if the physical therapy schools you are evaluating have relationships with Big Park AZ hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships a great means to obtain practical training in a clinical environment, they are additionally a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they may assist students and graduates establish professional relationships in the Big Park health care community and assist with job placement after licensing.
What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of person that prefers to sit far in the back of class or get lost in the crowd, you will probably prefer a small class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapy colleges you are reviewing what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you an opportunity to talk with several of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapy program as well.
Where is the Program Located? For a number of students, the physical therapy college they pick will need to be within travelling distance of their Big Park AZ home. Students who have opted to attend classes online obviously will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of importance. Something to bear in mind is that if you decide 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 usually charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.
Is Financial Help Offered? Most DPT colleges supply some type of financial support to their prospective students. Find out if the schools you are considering have a financial assistance office and find out what type of aid is obtainable. At a minimum they should help in obtaining a student loan or any grants you may be eligible for. Some physical therapy colleges offer scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before eliminating a college because the tuition is beyond your budget, ask what financial aid might be available.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to verify that the physical therapy program you ultimately choose can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you choose to continue working while attending classes. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Big Park AZ area, make certain that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, verify if that is an option 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 may miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Best Big Park Physical Therapy School
Deciding on the best physical therapy program is a necessary initial decision you need to make to launch a gratifying career in the health care field. As we have covered in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and college you pick should both have outstanding reputations and be accredited. However there are other critical questions that you should ask pertaining to your school of choice as well. As you start your search for a physical therapy college keep in mind that many factors will lead you toward your final decision. You may want to go to each of the campuses to see their facilities and talk to current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this college help me reach my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By following our list of additional questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the field so you can make the best choice. And with the necessary training and education, you can achieve your dream of becoming a practicing physical therapist in Big Park Arizona.