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How to Enroll In the Right Physical Therapist Course Near Buckeye Arizona

Buckeye Arizona physical therapist working with female patient using balance ballReceiving a physical therapy degree near Buckeye AZ is an essential first step to beginning a rewarding career in the medical care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been debilitated as a result of injury or illness gain back mobility and function. But before they may legally practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they need to receive the necessary education and training. A PT must also become licensed in all states, a large number mandating that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So before selecting a physical therapy school, it's essential to research the ones you are thinking about to make sure they will provide a superior education and satisfy your state's licensing criteria. What you should not do is enroll in a college simply because it happens to be the closest to your residence or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other important qualifications that need to be evaluated along with location and cost. But before we cover what those qualifications are and the questions you should be asking, we'll address what a physical therapist does and the options for education.

What Does a Physical Therapist Do?

Buckeye Arizona DPT assisting female patient to walk

Physical therapists work in varying locations, including Buckeye AZ private practices, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and health clubs. What the facilities all share in common is that they have the equipment for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As previously mentioned, physical therapists help patients that are struggling with a lack of mobility and frequently pain due to injury or illness. After patient diagnosis, they create a course of treatment to resolve the mobility issues and reduce or eradicate any pain. They also endeavor to stop any progression of the disability. Although the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are abundant, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • 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 health specialists, including doctors, chiropractors, registered nurses and dentists. They can also oversee several physical therapy assistants who work under them in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. One thing to take note of for anyone considering getting into the physical therapy field, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists often lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and kneel, crouch and stand for extended periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapist Degrees

Buckeye Arizona DPT working with man in pool

There are 3 physical therapy degrees available for individuals to enroll in at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these alternatives, the only degree that is attainable that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees emphasize either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or prepping them to progress to the doctoral level. Following are brief summaries of degree levels that are offered to prospective students in the Buckeye AZ area:

  • Associate Degrees prepare students to be physical therapy assistants, or may be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Candidates must have earned a high school diploma or equivalent to qualify for enrollment. The programs are usually made available by community colleges, and take about two years for completion. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is normally a component of the course of study.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapy training to prep candidates to move up to the doctoral level. While they are not required to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an essential initial step to becoming a PT. Similar to the majority of bachelor's degrees, they typically require four years to complete and usually 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). After earning the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes 3 years to complete, making the overall commitment 7 years in most cases. Practical or clinical training is an intregal component in addition to the considerable classroom and lab instruction. Consequently the completion of an internship is required, not only for graduation but in several states for licensing as well.

The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) has replaced the Master's of Physical Therapy (MPT), which has been eliminated and is no longer attainable in the USA. Some licensed physical therapists having a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the current licensing requirement for a doctorate was instituted.

Physical Therapy Degrees Online

Buckeye Arizona woman taking physical therapist courses onlineWhile not as common as the more traditional alternatives, there are some accredited online physical therapist degrees available, even more at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on nature of the training, internships and clinical lab work are incorporated with the online classes. This requires that the student live close to the college campus or in proximity of an available internship. Fortunately, the online segment of the program may be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Buckeye AZ home. Online schools are not only to some extent more accessible, but in a number of instances more affordable. Tuition might be significantly lower than similar on campus alternatives, and expenses for commuting are reduced. And a number of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These benefits can make the online alternative the right choice for those students that are disciplined enough to attend classes at home.

What to Ask Physical Therapy Programs

At this point you most likely have made a decision regarding several of your initial queries, such as the kind of physical therapy degree you intend to attain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much you can afford to spend for your education. But because there are so many PT schools within the Buckeye AZ area and throughout Arizona, you'll have to look into additional qualifications as well in order to further reduce your list of school options. Also, you need to make sure that you select the school that is best for you. That's why we have put together a list of essential questions that you must ask the physical therapy colleges you are reviewing. Ask each of the potential schools these questions prior to making an ultimate decision.

Is the Physical Therapist College Accredited?  Ask if the schools you are looking at have received accreditation from a national or a regional organization. As previously 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 choose an online college, it can 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 through a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Besides guaranteeing that you receive a quality education, accreditation may be mandated for state licensing and even for getting student loans or financial aid.

What is the School's Standing? Along with accreditation, it's imperative that the school and program you select have outstanding reputations within the physical therapist community. There are multiple ways you can research a PT program's reputation, starting with asking for references from employers that they place their graduates with. You can also check online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Contact a few Buckeye AZ physical therapist centers or other healthcare facilities that you might be interested in working for and ask if they can provide any insight about your program selections. It might also be prudent to check with the Arizona Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been filed against the colleges.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? There are a couple of useful statistics that you need to find out about all of the physical therapist colleges you are looking at. First is their graduation rate. A lower rate may suggest that students dropped out because of dissatisfaction 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 program has a high job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the health care field is good or perhaps outstanding. It also verifies that the program has a wide network of contacts to help students get internships or jobs upon graduation.

Does the College Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the school you enroll in furnishes 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) as well as a degree from an accredited physical therapy 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 exams.

Are Internship Programs Sponsored? Find out if the physical therapy programs you are interested in have partnerships with Buckeye AZ clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a great way to receive practical training in a clinical setting, they are also a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they may assist graduates and students establish professional relationships in the Buckeye healthcare community and assist with obtaining employment after licensing.

How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of student that likes to sit far in the rear of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a smaller class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapist schools you are researching what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you an opportunity to talk with a few of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the physical therapy program as well.

Where is the School Located? For many students, the physical therapy college they select will have to be within driving distance of their Buckeye AZ residence. Individuals who have decided to attend online classes naturally will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. Something to bear in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a school that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you may be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges typically charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges frequently charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Aid Provided? The majority of DPT colleges offer some type of financial aid to their prospective students. Find out if the colleges you are reviewing have a financial assistance department and find out what type of help is obtainable. They at least should help in securing a student loan or any scholarships you might be eligible for. Some physical therapist colleges offer scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before eliminating a college because the tuition is too expensive, ask what financial aid might be available.

Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must verify that the physical therapy school you finally pick can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you decide to continue working while you attend school. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Buckeye AZ area, confirm that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would need to enroll in. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of work, illness or family obligations.

Find Out More About Buckeye Online Physical Therapist Colleges

Enroll in the Best Buckeye Physical Therapist School

Choosing the ideal physical therapy school is a necessary initial decision you must make to launch a rewarding career in the health care field. As we have covered in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and college you select should both have outstanding reputations and be accredited. However there are other critical questions that you should ask regarding your school of choice also. As you start your search for a physical therapist school keep in mind that a number of variables will guide you toward your final decision. You may decide to visit different colleges to see their facilities and speak to current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this school help me reach my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By following our list of supplemental questions, you will be able to narrow down the options so you can make the ideal selection. And with the proper education and training, you can accomplish your dream of becoming a licensed physical therapist in Buckeye Arizona.


 

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