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How to Find the Right Physical Therapist School Near Bullhead City Arizona

Bullhead City Arizona physical therapist working with female patient holding balance ballReceiving a physical therapy degree near Bullhead City AZ is an important first step to beginning a rewarding career in the healthcare field. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been debilitated due to injury or illness regain mobility and function. But before they can practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they need to receive the appropriate education and training. A PT must additionally become licensed in all states, many mandating that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So prior to choosing a physical therapy school, it's essential to research the ones you are thinking about to make certain they will supply a quality education and satisfy your state's licensing criteria. What you do not want to do is enroll in a school just because it happens to be the closest to your home or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that must be considered besides cost and location. But before we talk about what those qualifications are and the questions you should be asking, we'll cover what a physical therapist does and the options for education.

What is a Physical Therapist's Job Description?

Bullhead City Arizona physical therapist assisting woman to walk

Physical therapists work in diverse locations, including Bullhead City 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 previously stated, physical therapists help individuals that are struggling with a lack of mobility and frequently pain due to injury or illness. After diagnosing a patient, they develop a course of treatment to resolve the mobility problems and lessen 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:

  • Osteoporosis and Arthritis
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Strokes
  • Heart attacks
  • Sports injuries
  • Burn injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists work in close affiliation with other Bullhead City AZ health professionals, including chiropractors, physicians, registered nurses and dentists. They can also manage several physical therapy assistants who work under them assisting with the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. One thing to take note of for anyone thinking about going into the physical therapy profession, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift patients and heavy equipment, and stand, crouch and kneel for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degrees Offered

Bullhead City Arizona DPT working with patient in pool

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

  • Associate Degrees train students to practice as physical therapy assistants, or may be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Candidates must have a high school diploma or GED to be accepted for enrollment. The degrees are usually offered by community colleges, and require two years for completion. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is typically part of the course of study.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapy training to prepare students to move up to the doctoral level. Although they are not required to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an essential initial step to becoming a PT. As with most bachelor's degrees, they generally require four years to complete and commonly include an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are a requirement 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 total commitment seven years in the majority of cases. Practical or clinical training is an intregal element in addition to the extensive lab and classroom instruction. Consequently the fulfillment 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 taken the place of the Master's of Physical Therapy (MPT), which has been phased out and is no longer attainable in the USA. Some licensed physical therapists having a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the present licensing mandate for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapist Online Colleges

Bullhead City Arizona woman taking physical therapist courses onlineWhile not as prevalent as the more traditional alternatives, there are a number of accredited online physical therapy degrees offered, even more at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on structure of the training, clinical lab work and internships are integrated with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live near the college campus or in proximity of a sponsored internship. However, the online segment of the course of study can be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Bullhead City AZ home. Online schools are not only to some extent more accessible, but in many cases more affordable. Tuition might be somewhat less than similar on-campus options, and expenditures for commuting are minimized. And a number of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These advantages can make the online option the best choice for those students that are motivated enough to attend classes at home.

What to Ask Physical Therapy Programs

At this point you probably have come to decision regarding several of your initial questions, including the kind of physical therapist degree you would like to attain, where you want to attend classes, and how much you can afford to invest in your education. But because there are numerous PT colleges within the Bullhead City AZ area and throughout Arizona, you'll have to research other qualifications as well so as to further narrow your list of school options. Also, you want to be sure that you pick the school that is ideal for you. That's the reason we have compiled a list of important questions that you need to ask the physical therapist schools you are considering. Ask all of the potential colleges these questions before making an ultimate selection.

Is the Physical Therapist College Accredited?  Ask if the schools you are looking at have received accreditation from a regional or a national 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 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. Also, make sure that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. In addition to ensuring that you obtain a quality education, accreditation might be mandated for state licensing and even for securing student loans or financial assistance.

What is the College's Ranking? Along with accreditation, it's imperative that the college and program you pick have exceptional reputations within the physical therapy profession. There are a number of ways you can look into a PT program's reputation, starting with requesting references from employers that they refer their students to. You may also check online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Contact some Bullhead City AZ physical therapy centers or other health care facilities that you may have an interest in working for and ask if they can provide any recommendations about your school selections. It may also be a good idea to check with the Arizona Attorney General and school licensing authority to find out if any complaints have been filed against the schools.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? There are a two useful statistics that you should know about all of the physical therapist schools you are reviewing. One is their graduation rate. A lower rate might indicate that students left because of dissatisfaction with the program, the teachers, or both. Once the students have graduated, how many of them are being placed in jobs with the help of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Bullhead City AZ area? If a program has a high job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the medical care community is good or perhaps exceptional. It also confirms that the program has a wide network of contacts to help students gain internships or jobs upon graduation.

Does the School Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the college you enroll in furnishes both excellent training and a curriculum that supports the licensing requirements for Arizona or the state where you will be working. In every 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 fluctuate state by state for PT and PTA graduates, some states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be completed and passing scores on additional exams.

Are Internships Provided? Find out if the physical therapist colleges you are evaluating have relationships with Bullhead City AZ clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a great way to receive hands on experience in a clinical setting, they are additionally a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they can assist graduates and students develop professional connections in the Bullhead City health care community and help with obtaining employment after licensing.

How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of student that prefers to sit far in the back of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a small class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapy schools you are considering what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you a chance to talk with some of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the physical therapy program as well.

Where is the College Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapist college they choose will need to be within commuting distance of their Bullhead City AZ home. Individuals who have chosen to attend online classes obviously will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. Something to consider is that if you choose to enroll in a program that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you may be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges commonly charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges generally charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.

Is Financial Assistance Provided? The majority of DPT colleges provide some type of financial assistance to their prospective students. Inquire if the colleges you are examining have a financial aid office and see what kind of help is obtainable. At a minimum they should help in getting a student loan or any scholarships you may qualify for. A number of physical therapy colleges provide 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 College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must verify that the physical therapy college you ultimately select can provide the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you opt to continue working while you attend classes. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Bullhead City AZ area, check that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, check if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would have to enroll in. Also, find out what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Bullhead City Physical Therapist Programs

Choose the Right Bullhead City Physical Therapy School

Deciding on the best physical therapist school is a necessary initial decision you must make to begin a fulfilling career in the healthcare field. As we have discussed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and college you choose should both have exceptional reputations and accreditation. But there are additional relevant questions that you should ask pertaining to your college of choice also. As you commence your search for a physical therapy program keep in mind that many factors will guide you toward 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 critical question: will this college help me realize my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By following our list of additional questions, you will be able to narrow down the field so you can make the right choice. And with the proper training and education, you can accomplish your dream of becoming a licensed physical therapist in Bullhead City Arizona.


 

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