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How to Enroll In the Right Physical Therapy Training Program Near Buckeye Arizona

Buckeye Arizona physical therapist working with woman holding balance ballEarning a physical therapist degree near Buckeye AZ is an important first step to beginning a rewarding career in the health care field. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been disabled due to injury or illness gain back mobility and function. But before they can practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they must obtain the proper education and training. A PT must additionally become licensed in all states, a large number mandating that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So before choosing a physical therapy school, it's important to evaluate those you are looking at to make sure they will furnish a superior education and meet your state's licensing criteria. What you do not want to do is select a school just because it happens to be the nearest to your home or it has cheapest tuition. There are other significant qualifications that must be evaluated 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 is a Physical Therapist's Job Description?

Buckeye Arizona DPT assisting female patient to walk

Physical therapists work in diverse settings, including Buckeye AZ hospitals, health clinics, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and sports facilities. What the facilities all have in common is that they have the equipment for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As earlier touched on, physical therapists help patients that are suffering from a lack of mobility and in many cases pain caused by injury or illness. After patient diagnosis, they design a course of treatment to address the mobility issues and reduce or eliminate any pain. They also strive to prevent any advancement of the disability. Though the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Osteoporosis and Arthritis
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Strokes
  • Heart attacks
  • Sports injuries
  • Fire injuries
  • Hip Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists work in close partnerships with other Buckeye AZ medical professionals, including doctors, chiropractors, dentists and nurses. They may also supervise several physical therapy assistants who work for them in diagnosing and treating their patients. One thing to keep in mind for anyone considering entering the physical therapy profession, 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 Degrees Offered

Buckeye Arizona DPT working with man in pool

There are three physical therapy degrees offered for students to pursue at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these choices, the single degree that is attainable that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees target either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or preparing them to advance to the doctoral level. Below are brief summaries of degrees that are available to prospective students in the Buckeye AZ area:

  • Associate Degrees train students to practice as 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 be accepted for enrollment. The programs are typically offered by community colleges, and take about two years for completion. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is typically a component of the course of study.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapist education to prepare candidates to progress to the doctoral level. While they are not a requirement to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an integral first step to practicing as a PT. As with the majority of bachelor's degrees, they normally take 4 years to finish and often include an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are a requirement if you want to become a licensed practicing 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 commitment seven years in most cases. Clinical or practical training is an intregal element along with the considerable classroom and lab instruction. Therefor the fulfillment of an internship is mandated, not just 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 available in the United States. Some licensed physical therapists having a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the current licensing requirement for a doctorate was instituted.

Physical Therapist Degrees Online

Buckeye Arizona woman taking physical therapist classes onlineAlthough not as common as the more traditional alternatives, there are some accredited online physical therapy degrees offered, even more at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on nature of the training, internships and clinical lab work are integrated with the online classes. This requires that the student live close to the college campus or nearby a sponsored internship. However, the online segment of the curriculum may be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Buckeye AZ home. Online programs are not only to some extent more accessible, but in many instances more affordable. Tuition can be significantly lower than comparable on-campus alternatives, and costs for commuting are reduced. And many of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring 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 some of your initial queries, like the kind of physical therapist degree you would like to obtain, where you want to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to invest in your education. But since there are so many PT schools within the Buckeye AZ area and throughout Arizona, you'll have to explore other qualifications also in order to further narrow your list of school options. Moreover, you want to be sure that you enroll in the program that is ideal for you. That's the reason we have put together a list of essential questions that you need to ask the physical therapist schools you are considering. Ask each of the competing colleges these questions prior to making a final decision.

Is the Physical Therapy Program Accredited?  Find out if the colleges you are looking at have received accreditation from a regional or a national organization. As previously stated, if you are pursuing a doctorate 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 essential that both the physical therapist school and program you choose are accredited, not just the school. Also, check that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Besides ensuring that you obtain a quality education, accreditation may be mandated for state licensing as well as for getting student loans or financial aid.

What is the School's Standing? In addition to accreditation, it's imperative that the school and program you choose have exceptional reputations within the physical therapist profession. There are multiple ways you can research a PT college's reputation, beginning with requesting references from employers that they place their graduates with. You can also check online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. Call a few Buckeye AZ physical therapist clinics or other healthcare facilities that you might have an interest in working for and ask if they can offer any recommendations about your college options. It may also be prudent to contact the Arizona Attorney General and school licensing authority to find out if any complaints have been filed against the schools.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? There are a couple of relevant statistics that you need to find out about all of the physical therapist programs you are considering. One is their graduation rate. A lower rate might indicate that students left because of displeasure with the program, the instructors, or both. Once the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being hired with the assistance of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Buckeye AZ area? If a school has a high job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the healthcare field is good or even exceptional. It also verifies that the college has a large network of contacts to assist students gain internships or jobs after graduation.

Does the College Support Licensing Requirements? It's important that the program you choose provides 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 required on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) as well as a degree from an accredited physical therapist college. While licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PT and PTA graduates, a number of states require a minimum number of clinical hours be performed as well as passing scores on supplemental tests.

Are Internship Programs Provided? Find out if the physical therapy programs you are evaluating have associations with Buckeye AZ clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a great means to obtain practical training in a clinical environment, they are also a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they may assist graduates and students develop professional connections in the Buckeye healthcare community and help with job placement after licensing.

How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of person that prefers to sit far in the back of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will probably prefer a smaller class size. Small classes permit more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapy schools you are researching 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 ultimate determination. This will also give you a chance to speak with several of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapy program as well.

Where is the School Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapist college they pick will need to be within driving distance of their Buckeye AZ residence. Students who have chosen to attend classes online naturally will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. Something to keep in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a school 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? The majority of DPT schools provide some form of financial support to their prospective students. Inquire if the colleges you are reviewing have a financial aid office and find out what type of help is available. They at least should help in getting a student loan or any grants you may qualify for. Some physical therapist schools offer scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before you eliminate a school because the tuition is too expensive, learn what financial assistance might be available.

Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must confirm that the physical therapist program you finally choose can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you choose to continue working while attending classes. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Buckeye AZ area, make certain that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would have to carry. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss because of work, illness or family obligations.

Find Out More About Buckeye Physical Therapy Programs

Choose the Best Buckeye Physical Therapy School

Selecting the best physical therapy college is an important initial decision you have 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 school you enroll in should both have outstanding reputations and accreditation. But there are other important questions that you need to ask regarding your school of choice also. As you start your search for a physical therapist college keep in mind that many variables will guide you to your ultimate decision. You may decide to visit different schools to view their facilities and speak with 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 have the ability to narrow down the options so you can make the ideal selection. And with the necessary education and training, you can accomplish your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in Buckeye Arizona.


 

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