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

Big Park Arizona physical therapist working with female patient using exercise ballReceiving a physical therapy degree near Big Park AZ is a critical first step to starting a rewarding career in the healthcare industry. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been incapacitated due to illness or injury regain mobility and function. But before they may legally practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they must obtain the necessary training and education. A PT must also become licensed in every state, a large number mandating that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So before enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's important to investigate those you are thinking about to ensure they will supply a superior education and satisfy your state's licensing requirements. What you should not do is enroll in a school just because it happens to be the nearest to your residence 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 what questions you should ask, we'll cover what a physical therapist does and the options for education.

What is a Physical Therapist?

Big Park Arizona physical therapist helping female patient to walk

Physical therapists practice in varying locations, including Big Park AZ hospitals, health clinics, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and sports facilities. What the facilities all share in common is that they are equipped for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As earlier touched on, physical therapists help people that are suffering from a lack of mobility and in many cases pain caused by injury or illness. After diagnosing a patient, they design a program of treatment to deal with the mobility issues and reduce or eliminate any pain. They also endeavor to stop any progression of the disability. While the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are numerous, they include:

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

Licensed physical therapists work in close affiliation with other Big Park AZ medical specialists, including chiropractors, physicians, dentists and nurses. They can also supervise several physical therapy assistants who work under them in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. One thing to bear in mind for anyone considering going into the physical therapy field, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift patients and heavy equipment, and stand, crouch and kneel for extended periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degrees Available

Big Park Arizona DPT working with patient in pool

There are 3 physical therapist degrees available for individuals to pursue at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these options, the only degree that is offered that qualifies the graduate to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees target either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or readying them to advance to the doctoral level. Following are short summaries of degree levels that are available to prospective students in the Big Park AZ area:

  • Associate Degrees educate students to become 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 provided by junior or community colleges, and require two years to complete. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is usually part of the course of study.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapy education to prepare candidates to advance to the doctoral level. While they are not a requirement to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an essential preliminary step to practicing as a PT. As with most bachelor's degrees, they typically require 4 years to complete and usually incorporate an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are a requirement in order to become a practicing licensed 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 3 years to complete, making the total investment of time 7 years in the majority of cases. Clinical training is an essential element in addition to the extensive classroom and lab instruction. Therefor the completion of an internship is required, 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 eliminated and is no longer offered in the USA. A number of licensed 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 Therapist Online Colleges

Big Park Arizona female student taking physical therapist courses onlineWhile not as common as the more traditional alternatives, there are many accredited online physical therapist degrees available, more so at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on nature of the training, clinical lab work and internships are combined with the online classes. This requires that the student live near the school campus or nearby a sponsored internship. Fortunately, the online portion of the course of study may be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Big Park AZ residence. Online schools are not only partially more accessible, but in many instances more economical. Tuition may be significantly less than comparable on campus alternatives, and expenditures for commuting are reduced. And a number of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These advantages can make the online option the right choice for those students that are disciplined enough to learn at home.

What to Ask Physical Therapy Colleges

At this point you probably have made a decision regarding several of your preliminary queries, like the kind of physical therapist degree you want to attain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much you can afford to spend for your education. But considering there are so many PT schools within the Big Park AZ area and throughout Arizona, you'll have to look into other qualifications also so as to further reduce your list of school options. Furthermore, you need to make sure that you pick the program that is ideal for you. That's the reason we have compiled a list of essential questions that you must ask the physical therapy colleges you are considering. Ask each of the competing schools these questions prior to making an ultimate decision.

Is the Physical Therapy College Accredited?  Find out if the programs you are considering have received accreditation from a national or a regional agency. 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 enroll in an online school, it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's important that both the physical therapist program and school you select are accredited, not simply the school. Additionally, check that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Along with ensuring that you obtain a quality education, accreditation might be required for state licensing as well as for securing student loans or financial aid.

What is the School's Reputation? Along with accreditation, it's essential that the school and program you choose have exceptional reputations within the physical therapy community. There are several ways you can look into 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 also. Contact some Big Park AZ physical therapy clinics or other healthcare facilities that you might have an interest in working for and ask if they can offer any insight about your school selections. It might 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 colleges.

What is the Program's Job Placement Percentage? There are a two useful statistics that you need to know about all of the physical therapy schools you are looking at. One is their graduation rate. A lower rate may indicate that students left due to dissatisfaction with the program, the teachers, or both. After the students have graduated, how many of them are being placed in jobs with the support of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Big Park AZ area? If a school has a higher job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the healthcare community is good or even exceptional. It also confirms that the program has a wide network of contacts to help students gain internships or employment upon graduation.

Does the School Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the school you enroll in furnishes both exceptional training and a course of study that satisfies the licensing requirements for Arizona or the state where you will be working. In each state a passing score is needed on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapist school. Although licensing requirements vary state by state for PTA and PT graduates, many states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be completed as well as passing scores on supplemental tests.

Are Internship Programs Offered? Inquire if the physical therapist schools you are reviewing have associations with Big Park AZ hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent manner to obtain practical training in a clinical setting, they are also a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they can assist graduates and students form professional relationships in the Big Park medical community and assist with job placement once licensed.

What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of person that likes to sit way in the rear of class or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a small class size. Smaller classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapy schools you are looking at what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you an opportunity to speak with some of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the physical therapy program also.

Where is the College Located? For a number of students, the physical therapy school they choose will need to be within travelling distance of their Big Park AZ home. Students who have decided to attend classes online naturally will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. One thing to consider is that if you decide to enroll in a college that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges typically charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges generally charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Assistance Offered? Most DPT colleges offer some form of financial support to their potential students. Ask if the schools you are considering have a financial aid office and see what kind of help is obtainable. They at least should help in securing a student loan or any scholarships you may be eligible for. A number of physical therapist schools offer scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before eliminating a school because the tuition is beyond your budget, ask what financial aid may be available.

Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must verify that the physical therapist program you finally pick can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you choose to continue working while attending school. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Big Park AZ area, check that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would have to enroll in. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Big Park Online Physical Therapy Programs

Choose the Right Big Park Physical Therapy School

Selecting the right physical therapist college is an important initial decision you need to make to start a fulfilling career in the health care profession. As we have covered in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and college you enroll in should both have outstanding reputations and be accredited. However there are additional important questions that you should ask pertaining to your school of choice also. As you commence your search for a physical therapy school keep in mind that a number of variables will lead you toward your final decision. You might decide to go to each of the 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 supplemental questions, you will be able to narrow down the field so you can make the best choice. And with the necessary education and training, you can accomplish your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in Big Park Arizona.


 

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