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How to Pick the Right Physical Therapist College Near Buckeye Arizona

Buckeye Arizona physical therapist working with woman holding exercise ballGetting a physical therapist degree near Buckeye AZ is a critical first step to beginning a rewarding career in the medical care field. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been incapacitated due to illness or injury gain back function and mobility. But before they can practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they need to get the necessary training and education. A PT must additionally become licensed in all states, a large number mandating that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So prior to choosing a physical therapy school, it's important to investigate the ones you are looking at to make certain they will supply 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 nearest to your residence or it has the lowest tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that need to be considered besides cost and location. But before we discuss what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, we'll address what a physical therapist does and the options for education.

What Does a Physical Therapist Do?

Buckeye Arizona DPT assisting woman to walk

Physical therapists practice in a variety of locations, such as Buckeye AZ private practices, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and health clubs. What the facilities all have 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 struggling with a lack of mobility and often pain due to injury or illness. After patient diagnosis, they create a program of treatment to resolve the mobility problems and reduce or eliminate any pain. They also endeavor to stop any advancement of the disability. Although the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are abundant, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Head injuries
  • Heart attacks
  • Sports injuries
  • Fire injuries
  • Hip Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists work in close partnerships with other Buckeye AZ health professionals, including chiropractors, physicians, registered nurses and dentists. They may also supervise several physical therapy assistants who work for them in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. Something to keep in mind for anyone thinking about getting into the physical therapy field, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists often lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and stand, crouch and kneel for extended periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapist Degrees

Buckeye Arizona physical therapist working with patient in pool

There are three physical therapy degrees available for individuals to pursue at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these options, the only degree that is attainable that qualifies the graduate to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees focus on either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or preparing them to advance to the doctoral level. Below are short explanations of degrees that are available to prospective students in the Buckeye AZ area:

  • Associate Degrees educate students to become physical therapy assistants, or can be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Applicants must have a high school diploma or GED to qualify for enrollment. The degrees are usually made available by community or junior colleges, and take about two years for completion. An internship or other form of clinical training is usually a portion of the program.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapist education to prepare students to move up to the doctoral level. While they are not a requirement to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an important first step to practicing as a PT. Similar to the majority of bachelor's degrees, they typically require 4 years to finish and often include an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are required 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). After earning the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes 3 years to complete, making the overall investment of time 7 years in most cases. Clinical training is an essential element along with the extensive lab and classroom instruction. Therefor the completion of an internship is required, not only for graduation but in a number of states for licensing as well.

The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) has taken the place of the Master's of Physical Therapy (MPT), which has been phased out and is no longer attainable in the USA. A number of licensed physical therapists having a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the current licensing requirement for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapy Online Colleges

Buckeye Arizona woman taking physical therapist training onlineAlthough not as prevalent as the more traditional options, there are many accredited online physical therapy degrees offered, more so at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on structure of the training, clinical lab work and internships are incorporated with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live close to the college campus or in proximity of a sponsored internship. However, the online portion of the curriculum may be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Buckeye AZ residence. Online schools are not only partially more accessible, but in a number of instances more economical. Tuition might be somewhat less than comparable on-campus options, and expenditures for commuting are reduced. And many of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These advantages may make the online alternative the ideal choice for those students that are motivated enough to learn at home.

Subjects to Ask Physical Therapist Colleges

At this point you most likely have come to decision regarding some of your preliminary queries, such as the kind of physical therapist degree you intend to obtain, 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 Buckeye AZ area and across Arizona, you'll need to research other qualifications also in order to further narrow your list of college choices. Furthermore, you need to make certain that you choose the college that is best for you. That's the reason we have collected a list of important questions that you need to ask the physical therapy schools you are considering. Ask all of the competing colleges these questions before making an ultimate selection.

Is the Physical Therapist School Accredited?  Find out if the schools you are reviewing have received accreditation from a national or a regional organization. As earlier 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 enroll in an online program, 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 just the school. Additionally, make sure that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. In addition to ensuring that you obtain an excellent education, accreditation might be required for state licensing as well as for getting student loans or financial aid.

What is the School's Standing? Along with accreditation, it's essential that the college and program you choose have excellent reputations within the physical therapy community. There are a number of ways you can research a PT program's reputation, beginning with asking for references from employers that they place their graduates with. You may also check online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. Call a few Buckeye AZ physical therapist centers or other healthcare facilities that you might be interested in working for and ask if they can offer any advice about your college options. It might also be a good idea 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 Percentage? There are a two relevant statistics that you need to know about each of the physical therapy colleges you are reviewing. One is their graduation rate. A low rate might mean that students dropped out due to dissatisfaction with the program, the instructors, or both. Once the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being hired with the help of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Buckeye AZ area? If a college has a high job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the health care community is good or perhaps outstanding. It also verifies that the college has a wide network of contacts to help students gain internships or employment after graduation.

Does the School Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's important that the school you enroll in provides both exceptional training and a curriculum that satisfies the licensing requirements for Arizona or the state where you will be practicing. In each state a passing score is needed on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapy program. While licensing requirements differ state by state for PTA and PT graduates, some states require a minimum number of clinical hours be performed and passing scores on additional exams.

Are Internship Programs Offered? Find out if the physical therapy schools you are evaluating have partnerships with Buckeye AZ clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a great manner to receive practical experience 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 students and graduates develop professional connections in the Buckeye healthcare community and assist with job placement once licensed.

How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of person that prefers to sit far in the back of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will probably prefer a small class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapist schools you are considering what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you a chance to converse with a few of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapist program also.

Where is the Program Located? For many students, the physical therapist college they decide on will need to be within driving distance of their Buckeye AZ home. Those who have chosen to attend online classes 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 decide to enroll in a program that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges normally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges usually charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.

Is Financial Assistance Provided? Most DPT colleges supply some type of financial support to their potential students. Inquire if the schools you are reviewing have a financial aid department and see what type of assistance is available. At a minimum they should help in acquiring a student loan or any grants you might be eligible for. Some physical therapist schools offer scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before eliminating a school because the tuition is too expensive, find out what financial assistance might be available.

Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to verify that the physical therapy college you finally choose can provide the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you decide to continue working while you attend school. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Buckeye AZ area, make certain that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, check if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would need to enroll in. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss due to illness, work or family obligations.

Learn More About Buckeye Online Physical Therapist Majors

Choose the Best Buckeye Physical Therapist School

Picking the ideal physical therapy school is an important initial decision you must make to launch a fulfilling career in the healthcare profession. As we have addressed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and school you decide on should both have outstanding reputations and be accredited. However there are additional important questions that you need to ask pertaining to your college of choice as well. As you commence your search for a physical therapy college keep in mind that a number of factors will lead you to your ultimate decision. You may decide to visit different campuses to see their facilities and speak to current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this college help me realize 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 appropriate choice. And with the necessary training and education, you can accomplish your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in Buckeye Arizona.


 

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