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How to Find the Right Physical Therapy College Near Big Park Arizona

Big Park Arizona physical therapist working with female patient holding exercise ballReceiving a physical therapy degree near Big Park AZ is a critical first step to launching a fulfilling career in the healthcare industry. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been debilitated due to illness or injury regain function and mobility. But before they may legally practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they must get the proper training and education. A PT must also be licensed in every state, many requiring that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So prior to selecting a physical therapy school, it's important to evaluate those you are thinking about to make certain they will supply a quality education and satisfy your state's licensing standards. What you do not want to do is select a school just because it happens to be the closest to your home or it has cheapest tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that need to be evaluated along with location and cost. But before we discuss what those qualifications are and the questions you should be asking, we'll cover what a physical therapist does and what the educational options are.

What is a Physical Therapist?

Big Park Arizona physical therapist helping female patient to walk

Physical therapists work in diverse settings, including Big Park AZ private practices, hospitals, 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 mentioned, physical therapists help patients that are suffering from a lack of mobility and often pain caused by illness or injury. After patient diagnosis, they create a course of treatment to resolve the mobility issues and lessen or eliminate any pain. They also strive to prevent any progression of the disability. Although the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are numerous, they include:

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

Licensed physical therapists work in close affiliation with other Big Park AZ medical specialists, including chiropractors, physicians, registered nurses and dentists. They can also oversee several physical therapy assistants who work under them assisting with diagnosing and treating their patients. Something to bear in mind for anyone considering entering the physical therapy field, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists routinely lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and kneel, crouch and stand for extended periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degree Options

Big Park Arizona physical therapist working with patient in pool

There are 3 physical therapist degrees available for individuals to pursue at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these choices, the one degree that is attainable 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 prepping them to advance to the doctoral level. Below are brief descriptions of degrees that are offered to prospective students in the Big Park AZ area:

  • Associate Degrees prepare students to become physical therapy assistants, or may 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 programs are most often made available by community or junior colleges, and require 2 years to complete. An internship or other form of clinical training is usually part of the curriculum.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapy training to prep candidates to progress to the doctoral level. While they are not required to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an integral initial step to becoming a PT. Similar to most bachelor's degrees, they generally require four years to complete and often include 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 3 years to finish, making the overall commitment seven years in most cases. Clinical or practical training is an intregal element along with the extensive lab and classroom instruction. Therefor 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 replaced the Master's of Physical Therapy (MPT), which has been phased out and is no longer attainable in the United States. Some licensed physical therapists having a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the existing licensing mandate for a doctorate was instituted.

Physical Therapist Online Schools

Big Park Arizona woman taking physical therapy classes onlineAlthough not as prevalent as the on campus alternatives, there are many accredited online physical therapy programs available, even more 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. However, the online part of the course of study can be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Big Park AZ home. Online schools are not only to some extent more accessible, but in a number of cases more affordable. Tuition might be somewhat lower than comparable on campus options, and costs for commuting are minimized. And many of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These advantages can make the online option the ideal choice for those students that are dedicated enough to learn at home.

What to Ask Physical Therapy Colleges

At this point you undoubtedly have made a decision regarding several of your preliminary questions, such as the kind of physical therapy degree you would like to earn, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much you can afford to spend for your education. But because there are numerous PT schools within the Big Park AZ area and across Arizona, you'll need to explore additional qualifications also in order to further reduce your list of college choices. Moreover, you need to make sure that you enroll in the school that is right for you. That's the reason we have collected a list of important questions that you must ask the physical therapist programs you are considering. Ask each of the competing schools these questions prior to making a final selection.

Is the Physical Therapist School Accredited?  Ask if the colleges you are looking at have earned accreditation from a regional or a national organization. As previously 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 receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's essential that both the physical therapy school and program you enroll in are accredited, not simply the school. Additionally, check that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Besides ensuring that you obtain an excellent education, accreditation might be mandated for state licensing as well as for getting student loans or financial assistance.

What is the School's Ranking? In addition to accreditation, it's important that the school and program you choose have excellent reputations within the physical therapist profession. There are multiple ways you can investigate a PT college's reputation, starting with requesting references from employers that they place their graduates with. You can also search for online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. Call some Big Park AZ physical therapy centers or other healthcare facilities that you may have an interest in working for and ask if they can give you any insight about your program selections. It may also be prudent to contact the Arizona Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been filed against the schools.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? There are a two important statistics that you need to find out about all of the physical therapist programs you are reviewing. One is their graduation rate. A lower rate may indicate that students left due to dissatisfaction with the program, the teachers, or both. Once the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being placed in jobs with the support of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Big Park AZ area? If a program has a high job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the medical care field is good or even outstanding. It also verifies that the school has a wide network of contacts to assist students get internships or employment after graduation.

Does the College Support Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the program you enroll in provides both exceptional training and a course of study that supports 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 therapy school. Although licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PT and PTA graduates, some states require a minimum number of clinical hours be performed and passing scores on supplemental tests.

Are Internships Provided? Find out if the physical therapy schools you are interested in have relationships with Big Park AZ hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent way to obtain practical experience in a clinical environment, they are also a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they may help graduates and students develop professional connections in the Big Park healthcare community and help with job placement after licensing.

What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of person that prefers to sit way in the rear of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will probably prefer a smaller class size. Smaller classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapist schools you are considering what the average 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 a chance to converse with some of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapist program as well.

Where is the School Located? For many students, the physical therapist college they decide on will have to be within commuting distance of their Big Park AZ residence. Individuals who have opted to attend classes online naturally will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. One thing to keep 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 have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges often charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges usually charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.

Is Financial Help Provided? Most DPT schools offer some form of financial assistance to their prospective students. Inquire if the schools you are considering have a financial aid department and see what kind of help is available. At a minimum they should help in securing a student loan or any grants you may be eligible for. Some physical therapy colleges offer scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before you eliminate a program because the tuition is too expensive, find out what financial aid may be available.

Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to verify that the physical therapy college you finally pick can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you choose to continue working while you attend classes. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Big Park AZ area, make sure that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would need to carry. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss because of work, illness or family obligations.

Learn More About Big Park Physical Therapist Training

Choose the Best Big Park Physical Therapy School

Deciding on the ideal physical therapy school is a necessary first decision you have to make to launch a fulfilling career in the healthcare field. As we have addressed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and school you choose should both have outstanding reputations and accreditation. But there are other important questions that you should ask concerning your college of choice as well. As you start your search for a physical therapy school keep in mind that many factors will lead you to your final decision. You may want to visit different schools to see their facilities and talk to active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this program help me accomplish 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 proper training and education, you can fulfill your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in Big Park Arizona.


 

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