How to Pick the Right Physical Therapy Program Near Bullhead City Arizona
Getting a physical therapy degree near Bullhead City AZ is a critical first step to launching a rewarding career in the medical care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been disabled as a result of illness or injury regain mobility and function. But before they may legally practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they must obtain the appropriate training and education. 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 important to investigate those you are considering to ensure they will furnish a quality education and meet your state's licensing criteria. What you do not want to do is enroll in a college simply because it happens to be the nearest to your home or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that need to be evaluated along with cost and location. 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 Do Physical Therapists Do?
Physical therapists work in a variety of settings, such as Bullhead City AZ private practices, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and health clubs. 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 individuals that are suffering from a lack of mobility and frequently pain due to injury or illness. After diagnosing a patient, they create a course of treatment to address the mobility problems and reduce or eradicate any pain. They also try to stop any advancement of the disability. Although the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are numerous, they include:
- Osteoporosis and Arthritis
- Car or motor cycle accidents
- Head injuries
- Cardiac arrest
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Fire injuries
- Knee Replacement
- Multiple Sclerosis
Licensed physical therapists practice in close partnerships with other Bullhead City AZ health specialists, including chiropractors, physicians, dentists and nurses. They may also manage several physical therapy assistants who work for them in diagnosing and treating their patients. One thing to take note of for anyone thinking about going 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 long periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapist Degrees
There are three physical therapist degree options available for individuals to pursue at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these choices, the only degree that is offered 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 short summaries of degree levels that are offered 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 made available by junior or community colleges, and require two years for completion. An internship or other form of clinical training is normally part of the curriculum.
- Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapy education to prepare students to advance to the doctoral level. While they are not a requirement to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an integral preliminary step to practicing as a PT. As with the majority of bachelor's degrees, they generally take four years to complete and usually incorporate an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
- Doctorate Degrees are mandated in order to become a licensed practicing physical therapist. The degree program also must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). After earning the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes 3 years to finish, making the total commitment 7 years in the majority of cases. Clinical or practical training is an important element along with the considerable classroom and lab instruction. Consequently the fulfillment of an internship is required, not just for graduation but in some 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 eliminated and is no longer offered in the USA. A number of practicing physical therapists holding a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the current licensing requirement for a doctorate was implemented.
Physical Therapist Colleges Online
While not as prevalent as the on-campus alternatives, there are many accredited online physical therapist programs available, even more at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on structure of the training, internships and clinical lab work are incorporated with the online classes. This requires that the student live near the school campus or in proximity of a sponsored internship. However, the online portion of the curriculum can be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Bullhead City AZ home. Online programs are not only to some extent more accessible, but in a number of instances more affordable. Tuition might be significantly less than comparable on campus options, and costs for commuting are reduced. And a number of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These advantages can make the online alternative the right choice for those students that are motivated enough to learn at home.
Topics to Ask Physical Therapist Colleges
At this point you most likely have come to decision concerning several of your initial questions, 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 numerous PT schools 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. Moreover, you want to make certain that you select the program that is right for you. That's the reason we have put together a list of essential questions that you must ask the physical therapy schools you are considering. Ask each of the potential colleges these questions before making an ultimate selection.
Is the Physical Therapist School Accredited? Ask if the programs you are reviewing have earned accreditation from a national or a regional agency. As previously mentioned, 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 program, it can 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 simply the school. Also, check that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Along with ensuring that you receive a quality education, accreditation might be mandated for state licensing as well as for securing student loans or financial aid.
What is the College's Ranking? Along with accreditation, it's essential that the school and program you pick have exceptional reputations within the physical therapy profession. There are several ways you can research a PT college's reputation, beginning with asking for references from employers that they refer their students to. You can also search for online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. Contact some Bullhead City AZ physical therapy centers or other medical care facilities that you might have an interest in working for and ask if they can offer any insight about your college selections. It may also be a good idea to contact the Arizona Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been submitted against the colleges.
What is the School's Job Placement Percentage? There are a couple of significant statistics that you should know about each of the physical therapist schools you are looking at. One is their graduation rate. A low rate may mean that students left because of displeasure with the program, the teachers, or both. After 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 school has a high job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the medical care field is good or perhaps outstanding. It also affirms that the program has a wide network of contacts to assist students gain internships or employment upon graduation.
Does the Program Support Licensing Requirements? It's important that the program you select provides both excellent training and a course of study that satisfies the licensing criteria 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) in addition to a degree from an accredited physical therapy program. Although licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PT and PTA graduates, some states require a minimum number of clinical hours be completed and passing scores on additional tests.
Are Internship Programs Provided? Ask if the physical therapy schools you are evaluating have relationships with Bullhead City AZ clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only a terrific manner to get hands on training in a clinical environment, they are also a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they may assist students and graduates develop professional connections in the Bullhead City medical community and help with obtaining employment after licensing.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of person that likes to sit far in the back of class or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a small class size. Small classes permit more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapy schools you are reviewing what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you a chance to talk with several of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapist program also.
Where is the College Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapy school they select will have to be within driving distance of their Bullhead City AZ residence. Individuals who have decided to attend online classes naturally will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of importance. Something to consider is that if you choose to enroll in a college that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges normally 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 Help Provided? The majority of DPT schools provide some type of financial assistance to their potential students. Ask if the colleges you are examining have a financial aid office and see what type of aid is obtainable. They at least should help in getting a student loan or any grants you might be eligible for. Some physical therapy colleges offer scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before eliminating a program 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 therapy program you finally select can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you decide to continue working while you attend school. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Bullhead City AZ area, confirm that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, find out if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would need to enroll in. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Best Bullhead City Physical Therapist School
Deciding on the best physical therapist school is an important initial decision you have to make to start a rewarding career in the healthcare field. As we have covered in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and college you enroll in should both have excellent reputations and accreditation. But there are other relevant questions that you need to ask regarding your college of choice as well. As you begin your search for a physical therapist school keep in mind that many variables will guide you toward your ultimate decision. You might want to go to each of the campuses to view their facilities and talk with current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this college help me achieve my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By following our list of additional questions, you will be able to narrow down the field so you can make the ideal selection. And with the proper training and education, you can achieve your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in Bullhead City Arizona.