How to Pick the Right Physical Therapy Training Program Near Bullhead City Arizona
Obtaining a physical therapist degree near Bullhead City AZ is an important first step to launching a rewarding career in the medical care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been disabled due to injury or illness regain function and mobility. But before they can practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they need to acquire the proper training and education. A PT must additionally be licensed in every state, a large number requiring that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So prior to choosing a physical therapy school, it's essential to evaluate those you are looking at to make sure they will furnish a superior education and meet your state's licensing requirements. What you should not do is select 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 must be evaluated along with 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 practice in varying settings, such as Bullhead City AZ hospitals, health clinics, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and health clubs. What the facilities all share in common is that they are equipped for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As previously mentioned, physical therapists help people that are experiencing a lack of mobility and often pain caused by illness or injury. After patient diagnosis, they design a course of treatment to resolve the mobility issues and lessen or eliminate any pain. They also endeavor to stop any progression of the disability. Although the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are numerous, they include:
- Arthritis or Osteoporosis
- Car or motor cycle accidents
- Head injuries
- Cardiac arrest
- Sports injuries
- Burn injuries
- Hip Replacement
- Cerebral Palsy
Licensed physical therapists practice in close affiliation with other Bullhead City AZ health professionals, including chiropractors, physicians, dentists and nurses. They may also oversee one or more physical therapy assistants who work for them in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. One thing to keep in mind for anyone considering getting into the physical therapy profession, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists often lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and stand, crouch and kneel for long periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapist Degrees Offered
There are three physical therapy degree options available for students to pursue at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these alternatives, the only degree that is available that qualifies the graduate to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees focus on either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or preparing them to advance to the doctoral level. Following are brief explanations of degrees that are available to prospective students in the Bullhead City AZ area:
- Associate Degrees train students to be physical therapy assistants, or may be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Candidates must have a high school diploma or GED to be accepted for enrollment. The degrees are typically offered by community or junior colleges, and require 2 years to complete. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is normally part of the program.
- Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapy education to prepare candidates to move up to the doctoral level. While they are not required to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an integral first step to practicing as a PT. As with the majority of bachelor's degrees, they generally require four years to complete and usually incorporate an internship program of at least 500 hours.
- Doctorate Degrees are a requirement if you want to become a practicing licensed 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 complete, making the total investment of time seven years in most cases. Clinical or practical training is an intregal component along with the substantial lab and classroom instruction. Therefor the completion of an internship is mandated, not solely for graduation but in several 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 offered in the United States. Some licensed physical therapists holding a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the current licensing mandate for a doctorate was instituted.
Physical Therapist Online Programs
While not as common as the on-campus alternatives, there are some accredited online physical therapy degrees offered, even more at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on structure of the training, clinical lab work and internships are integrated with the online classes. This requires that the student live near the school campus or in proximity of an available internship. Fortunately, the online part of the course of study may 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 many instances more affordable. Tuition may be somewhat less than comparable on-campus alternatives, and expenses for commuting are reduced. And many of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These advantages can make the online option the ideal choice for those students that are dedicated enough to attend classes at home.
Topics to Ask Physical Therapy Schools
By now you undoubtedly have made a decision concerning several of your preliminary questions, including the type of physical therapy degree you intend to earn, where you want to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to spend for your education. But because there are so many PT colleges within the Bullhead City AZ area and across Arizona, you'll have to explore additional qualifications also so as to further reduce your list of college choices. Also, you want to make sure that you select the school that is right for you. That's why we have compiled a list of critical questions that you must ask the physical therapist schools you are reviewing. Ask each of the competing colleges these questions before making an ultimate selection.
Is the Physical Therapy College Accredited? Ask if the colleges you are looking at have earned accreditation from a national or a regional agency. As earlier 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 earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapy school and program you select are accredited, not simply the school. Additionally, verify that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. In addition to ensuring that you receive a quality education, accreditation may be required for state licensing as well as for securing student loans or financial assistance.
What is the College's Standing? Along with accreditation, it's essential that the school and program you choose have exceptional reputations within the physical therapy community. There are several ways you can research a PT college's reputation, beginning with asking for references from employers that they place their graduates with. You can also search for online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. Get in touch with some Bullhead City AZ physical therapy clinics or other medical care facilities that you might have an interest in working for and ask if they can give you any advice about your program 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 colleges.
What is the College's Job Placement Percentage? There are a couple of useful statistics that you need to know about all of the physical therapist schools you are looking at. One is their graduation rate. A low rate might mean that students left due to dissatisfaction with the program, the instructors, or both. Once the students have graduated, how many of them are being placed in jobs with the support 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 confirms that the school has a large network of contacts to assist students obtain internships or jobs upon graduation.
Does the School Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the program you choose furnishes both excellent training and a curriculum that satisfies the licensing criteria for Arizona or the state where you will be practicing. In every state a passing score is needed on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapist school. While licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PTA and PT graduates, many states require a minimum number of clinical hours be completed as well as passing scores on supplemental exams.
Are Internships Offered? Find out if the physical therapy schools you are evaluating have partnerships with Bullhead City AZ clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships an excellent means to obtain hands on experience in a clinical setting, they are also a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they may help students and graduates establish professional relationships in the Bullhead City healthcare community and assist with job placement after licensing.
What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of student that prefers to sit far in the rear of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a small class size. Small classes permit more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapist colleges you are looking at what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to sit in on one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you an opportunity to speak with several of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the physical therapist program as well.
Where is the School Located? For many students, the physical therapist college they pick will need to be within travelling distance of their Bullhead City AZ home. Those who have chosen to attend online classes obviously will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. One thing to keep in mind is that if you decide 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 live outside of their districts.
Is Financial Help Provided? Most DPT colleges offer some type of financial support to their potential students. Ask if the schools you are examining have a financial aid department and find out what kind of help is offered. They at least should help in acquiring a student loan or any scholarships you might qualify for. A number of physical therapy schools offer scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before you eliminate a school because the tuition is beyond your budget, find out what financial assistance might be available.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to confirm that the physical therapist program you ultimately pick can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you decide to continue working while attending classes. If you need to schedule evening 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 credit hours or courses you would have to enroll in. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Bullhead City Physical Therapy School
Choosing the best physical therapy school is an important initial decision you need to make to begin a fulfilling career in the healthcare field. As we have addressed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and school you select should both have exceptional reputations and be accredited. However there are additional important questions that you need to ask regarding your college of choice as well. As you start your search for a physical therapist program bear in mind that a number of variables will lead you toward your final decision. You might decide to visit each of the campuses to view their facilities and talk with active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this program 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 options so you can make the ideal selection. And with the necessary education and training, you can fulfill your dream to become a licensed physical therapist in Bullhead City Arizona.