How to Choose the Right Physical Therapy Degree Program Near Bullhead City Arizona
Getting a physical therapy degree near Bullhead City AZ is a critical first step to launching a fulfilling career in the healthcare industry. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been incapacitated due to injury or illness gain back function and mobility. But before they may legally practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they must obtain the proper training and education. A PT must additionally become licensed in every state, many requiring that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So before enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's important to research the ones you are thinking about to make certain they will deliver a superior education and satisfy your state's licensing requirements. What you should not do is choose a school just because it happens to be the nearest to your home or it has cheapest tuition. There are other important qualifications that need to be considered in addition to location and cost. But before we discuss what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, we'll address what a physical therapist does and what the educational options are.
What is a Physical Therapist's Job Description?
Physical therapists work in varying settings, including Bullhead City AZ private practices, hospitals, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and health clubs. What the facilities all have in common is that they are equipped for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As previously mentioned, physical therapists help individuals that are struggling with a lack of mobility and frequently pain due to injury or illness. After patient diagnosis, they design a course of treatment to deal with the mobility issues and reduce or eradicate any pain. They also strive to prevent any advancement of the disability. Though the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are numerous, they include:
- Osteoporosis and Arthritis
- Car or motor cycle accidents
- Cardiac arrest
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Burn injuries
- Hip Replacement
- Multiple Sclerosis
Licensed physical therapists work in close association with other Bullhead City AZ medical professionals, including chiropractors, physicians, registered nurses and dentists. They can also supervise one or more 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 getting into the physical therapy profession, 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 Therapy Degrees Offered
There are three physical therapist degree options available for students to enroll in at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these alternatives, the only degree that is offered that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees focus on either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or prepping them to advance to the doctoral level. Below are brief descriptions of degree levels that are offered to prospective students in the Bullhead City AZ area:
- Associate Degrees educate students to be physical therapy assistants, or may be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Applicants must have obtained a high school diploma or equivalent to qualify for enrollment. The programs are typically provided by community colleges, and require 2 years to complete. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is normally a component of the curriculum.
- Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapy education to ready candidates to advance to the doctoral level. While they are not required to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an important initial step to practicing as a PT. As with the majority of bachelor's degrees, they typically take four years to complete and usually incorporate an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
- Doctorate Degrees are a requirement in order to become a practicing licensed 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 three years to complete, making the total commitment 7 years in the majority of cases. Clinical or practical training is an important component in addition to the considerable lab and classroom instruction. Therefor the fulfillment of an internship is required, not solely for graduation but in some 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 eliminated and is no longer attainable in the United States. Some practicing physical therapists having a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the existing licensing requirement for a doctorate was instituted.
Physical Therapy Online Schools
While not as prevalent as the on campus options, there are some accredited online physical therapist programs offered, even more at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on nature of the training, clinical lab work and internships are incorporated with the online classes. This requires that the student live near the college campus or nearby an available internship. However, the online segment of the curriculum may be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Bullhead City AZ home. Online schools are not only partially more accessible, but in many cases more economical. Tuition might be significantly less than comparable on campus options, and expenses for commuting are minimized. And many of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These advantages can make the online alternative the right choice for those students that are dedicated enough to attend classes at home.
Topics to Ask Physical Therapist Colleges
By now you probably have made a decision regarding several of your preliminary questions, including the type of physical therapist degree you intend to obtain, where you want to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to invest in your education. But considering there are so many PT schools within the Bullhead City AZ area and throughout Arizona, you'll have to research additional qualifications as well in order to further reduce your list of school options. Furthermore, you want to be sure that you select the program that is ideal for you. That's why we have compiled a list of important questions that you need to ask the physical therapy colleges you are considering. Ask each of the competing schools these questions prior to making a final decision.
Is the Physical Therapy College Accredited? Find out if the colleges you are looking at have received 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 select an online school, it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapy program and school you select are accredited, not just the school. Also, make sure that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. In addition to ensuring that you receive a quality education, accreditation might be required for state licensing and even for getting student loans or financial assistance.
What is the Program's Standing? In addition to accreditation, it's essential that the college and program you choose have outstanding reputations within the physical therapy profession. There are several ways you can investigate a PT program's reputation, beginning with requesting 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 may be interested in working for and ask if they can provide any insight 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 schools.
What is the School's Job Placement Rate? There are a two useful statistics that you should find out about each of the physical therapist schools you are considering. One is their graduation rate. A lower rate may indicate that students left because of dissatisfaction with the program, the instructors, or both. After the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being placed in jobs with the assistance of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Bullhead City AZ area? If a school has a higher job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the medical care community is good or even outstanding. It also affirms that the college has a wide network of contacts to assist students gain internships or employment after graduation.
Does the School Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's important that the college you enroll in provides both superior training and a curriculum that supports the licensing requirements 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 school. Although licensing requirements differ state by state for PT and PTA graduates, a number of states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be performed as well as passing scores on supplemental tests.
Are Internships Offered? Inquire if the physical therapist colleges you are interested in have relationships with Bullhead City AZ hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only a terrific way to get practical experience in a clinical environment, they are also a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they can assist graduates and students establish professional connections in the Bullhead City healthcare community and assist with obtaining employment once licensed.
How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of student that likes to sit far in the rear of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will probably want a small class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapist schools you are reviewing 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 final determination. This will also give you a chance to speak with several of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the physical therapy program as well.
Where is the Program Located? For many students, the physical therapy school they decide on will need to be within travelling distance of their Bullhead City AZ residence. Students who have opted to attend online classes obviously will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. Something to keep in mind 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 normally charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? The majority of DPT colleges provide some form of financial aid to their potential students. Ask if the schools you are examining have a financial aid office and see what kind of aid is obtainable. At a minimum they should help in getting a student loan or any scholarships you may qualify for. Some physical therapist colleges provide scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before you eliminate a school because the tuition is too expensive, learn what financial assistance may be available.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must verify that the physical therapist college you ultimately choose can provide the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you opt to continue working while you attend classes. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Bullhead City AZ area, make certain that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, find out if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would have to carry. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss due to work, illness or family obligations.
Enroll in the Best Bullhead City Physical Therapist School
Deciding on the best physical therapist school is an important first decision you have to make to start a gratifying career in the healthcare profession. As we have covered in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and college you decide on should both have outstanding reputations and accreditation. However there are additional relevant questions that you need to ask pertaining to your school of choice as well. As you start your search for a physical therapy school bear in mind that a number of variables will guide you toward your final decision. You might decide to visit each of the colleges to see their facilities and talk with current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this college help me accomplish my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By following our list of additional questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the field so you can make the right selection. And with the proper education and training, you can fulfill your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in Bullhead City Arizona.