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How to Select the Right Physical Therapy Course Near Casa Grande Arizona

Casa Grande Arizona physical therapist working with female patient using exercise ballGetting a physical therapy degree near Casa Grande AZ is an important first step to launching a fulfilling career in the medical care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been incapacitated due to injury or illness gain back function and mobility. But before they may legally practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they need to get the necessary training and education. A PT must additionally become licensed in every state, many mandating that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So before enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's essential to evaluate the ones you are looking at to make sure they will provide a quality 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 the most affordable tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that must be considered besides location and cost. But before we cover 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?

Casa Grande Arizona physical therapist assisting woman to walk

Physical therapists practice in a variety of locations, including Casa Grande 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 earlier touched on, physical therapists help people that are suffering from a lack of mobility and in many cases pain due to injury or illness. After patient diagnosis, they develop a course of treatment to deal with the mobility issues and reduce or eradicate any pain. They also strive to prevent any progression of the disability. Though the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are abundant, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Strokes
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Sports injuries
  • Burn injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Cerebral Palsy

Licensed physical therapists work in close affiliation with other Casa Grande AZ health professionals, including chiropractors, physicians, dentists and nurses. They can also manage one or more physical therapy assistants who work for them in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. Something to keep in mind for anyone considering getting into the physical therapy profession, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists often lift patients and heavy equipment, and kneel, crouch and stand for extended periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapist Degrees

Casa Grande Arizona DPT working with man in pool

There are three physical therapy degree options available for individuals to enroll in at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these options, 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 advance to the doctoral level. Following are short summaries of degrees that are offered to prospective students in the Casa Grande AZ area:

  • Associate Degrees prepare students to practice as physical therapy assistants, or may be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Candidates must have obtained a high school diploma or equivalent to be accepted for enrollment. The degrees are most often offered by community or junior colleges, and require 2 years to complete. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is typically part of the curriculum.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapist education to prep students to progress to the doctoral level. While they are not a requirement to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an essential initial step to becoming a PT. As with most bachelor's degrees, they normally require 4 years to finish and commonly include an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are required if you want 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 three years to finish, making the total commitment 7 years in most cases. Clinical or practical training is an important element along with the extensive lab and classroom instruction. Therefor the fulfillment of an internship is mandated, not just for graduation but in several states for licensing also.

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. A number of practicing physical therapists holding a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the present licensing requirement for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapy Online Schools

Casa Grande Arizona female student taking physical therapist training onlineWhile not as common as the more traditional alternatives, there are some accredited online physical therapist programs available, more so at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on nature of the training, clinical lab work and internships are combined with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live near the college campus or in proximity of an available internship. However, the online portion of the course of study can be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Casa Grande AZ residence. Online programs are not only partially more accessible, but in a number of cases more economical. Tuition might be somewhat less than comparable on-campus options, and expenses for commuting are minimized. And many of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These advantages may make the online alternative the best choice for those students that are motivated enough to learn at home.

Subjects to Ask Physical Therapist Schools

By now you most likely have made a decision regarding some of your preliminary questions, such as the type of physical therapist 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 numerous PT colleges within the Casa Grande AZ area and throughout Arizona, you'll need to research other qualifications as well so as to further narrow your list of college options. Furthermore, you need to be sure that you pick the program that is best for you. That's the reason we have put together a list of critical questions that you must ask the physical therapy schools you are reviewing. Ask all of the potential colleges these questions prior to making an ultimate selection.

Is the Physical Therapy College Accredited?  Find out if the schools you are considering have received accreditation from a regional or a national organization. As earlier 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 school, it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's important that both the physical therapy school and program you select are accredited, not just the school. Also, check that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. In addition to ensuring that you obtain a quality education, accreditation may 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 important that the school and program you select have excellent reputations within the physical therapist profession. There are a number of ways you can look into a PT program's reputation, beginning with requesting references from employers that they refer their students to. You may also check online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. Contact a few Casa Grande AZ physical therapy clinics or other medical care facilities that you might be interested in working for and ask if they can provide any insight about your school options. It may also be prudent 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 College's Job Placement Percentage? There are a two useful statistics that you should find out about each of the physical therapy programs you are looking at. One is their graduation rate. A low rate might indicate that students left due to dissatisfaction with the program, the teachers, or both. Once the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being hired with the support of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Casa Grande AZ area? If a college has a higher job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the medical care field is good or perhaps outstanding. It also confirms that the college has a large network of contacts to assist students get internships or employment upon graduation.

Does the School Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the college you enroll in provides both superior training and a course of study that supports the licensing requirements 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) as well as a degree from an accredited physical therapy school. Although licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PT and PTA graduates, a number of states require a minimum number of clinical hours be completed and passing scores on additional tests.

Are Internship Programs Sponsored? Inquire if the physical therapy colleges you are assessing have associations with Casa Grande AZ hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only a great means to receive hands on training in a clinical environment, they are also a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they can assist students and graduates form professional relationships in the Casa Grande health care community and assist with job placement once licensed.

What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the type of student that prefers to sit way in the rear of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will probably prefer a small class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapy schools you are looking at what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you an opportunity to speak with several of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapist program as well.

Where is the School Located? For many students, the physical therapist college they decide on will need to be within driving distance of their Casa Grande AZ home. Individuals who have decided to attend online classes obviously will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. One thing 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 might need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges often charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges frequently charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Help Offered? Most DPT schools supply some type of financial support to their potential students. Inquire if the colleges you are reviewing have a financial assistance department and find out what type of aid is obtainable. They at least should help in obtaining a student loan or any grants you might be eligible for. A number of physical therapist schools offer scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before you eliminate a college because the tuition is too expensive, learn what financial assistance may be available.

Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to confirm that the physical therapy program you ultimately pick can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly essential if you choose to continue working while attending classes. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Casa Grande AZ area, make certain that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would need to carry. Also, learn what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss due to illness, work or family obligations.

Find Out More About Casa Grande Physical Therapist Schools

Enroll in the Right Casa Grande Physical Therapy School

Choosing the best physical therapy college is an important first decision you must make to begin a rewarding career in the health care 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 important questions that you need to ask concerning your school of choice as well. As you commence your search for a physical therapy program bear in mind that numerous factors will lead you toward your final decision. You may decide to visit different colleges to view their facilities and speak with active 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 adhering to our list of supplemental questions, you will be able to narrow down the field so you can make the right selection. And with the necessary education and training, you can achieve your dream of becoming a practicing physical therapist in Casa Grande Arizona.


 

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