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

Casa Grande Arizona physical therapist working with woman holding exercise ballEarning a physical therapist degree near Casa Grande AZ is a critical first step to launching a rewarding career in the healthcare industry. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been disabled as a result of injury or illness regain mobility and function. But before they may legally practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they need to get the appropriate education and training. A PT must additionally become licensed in all states, many mandating that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So prior to selecting a physical therapy school, it's necessary to research the ones you are looking at to make certain they will supply a quality education and meet your state's licensing criteria. What you should not do is enroll in a school simply because it happens to be the nearest to your residence or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other significant qualifications that must be considered along with cost and location. But before we discuss what those qualifications are and the questions you should be asking, we'll cover what a physical therapist does and what the educational options are.

What is a Physical Therapist?

Casa Grande Arizona physical therapist helping woman to walk

Physical therapists practice in a variety of settings, including Casa Grande AZ hospitals, health clinics, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and sports facilities. What the facilities all share in common is that they are equipped for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As earlier stated, physical therapists help patients that are struggling with a lack of mobility and frequently pain due to illness or injury. After patient diagnosis, they develop a program of treatment to address the mobility problems and reduce or eliminate any pain. They also try to prevent any progression of the disability. Though the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Osteoporosis and Arthritis
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Strokes
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Sports injuries
  • Burn injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists work in close affiliation with other Casa Grande AZ medical professionals, including chiropractors, physicians, registered nurses and dentists. They may also oversee several physical therapy assistants who work for them in diagnosing and treating their patients. One thing to keep in mind 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 extended periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degree Options

Casa Grande Arizona physical therapist working with man in pool

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

  • Associate Degrees train students to be physical therapy assistants, or may be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Applicants must have earned a high school diploma or equivalent to qualify for enrollment. The programs are usually offered by community colleges, and take about 2 years to complete. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is normally a portion of the program.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapist education to prep students to move up to the doctoral level. Although they are not required to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an integral first step to becoming a PT. As with the majority of bachelor's degrees, they generally take four years to finish and commonly incorporate an internship program of at least 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are mandated 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 3 years to complete, making the overall investment of time seven years in the majority of cases. Practical or clinical training is an intregal component in addition to the considerable classroom and lab instruction. Consequently the fulfillment of an internship is required, not only 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 phased out and is no longer attainable in the USA. Some practicing physical therapists holding a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the current licensing mandate for a doctorate was instituted.

Physical Therapist Schools Online

Casa Grande Arizona woman taking physical therapy classes onlineAlthough not as prevalent as the on-campus alternatives, there are many accredited online physical therapist programs offered, more so 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 close to the school campus or nearby a sponsored internship. Fortunately, the online segment of the program can be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Casa Grande AZ residence. Online schools are not only partially more accessible, but in a number of cases more economical. Tuition can be somewhat less than comparable on-campus options, and expenditures for commuting are reduced. And a number of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These advantages may make the online option the ideal choice for those students that are dedicated enough to attend classes at home.

Questions to Ask Physical Therapy Colleges

At this point you undoubtedly have come to decision regarding some of your preliminary questions, including the kind of physical therapy degree you want to attain, where you want to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to spend for your education. But since there are so many PT colleges within the Casa Grande AZ area and throughout Arizona, you'll have to research additional qualifications also in order to further reduce your list of school choices. Also, you want to make certain that you select the school that is ideal for you. That's the reason we have put together a list of important questions that you need to ask the physical therapy schools you are reviewing. Ask each of the potential schools these questions before making an ultimate selection.

Is the Physical Therapy Program Accredited?  Ask if the schools you are considering have earned accreditation from a regional or a national agency. As previously stated, if you are pursuing a doctorate 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 important that both the physical therapist program and school you choose are accredited, not just the school. Additionally, make sure that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. In addition to guaranteeing that you receive a quality education, accreditation may be mandated for state licensing and even for securing student loans or financial aid.

What is the College's Standing? Along with accreditation, it's imperative that the college and program you pick have excellent reputations within the physical therapy profession. There are several ways you can investigate 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 as well. Contact several Casa Grande AZ physical therapy clinics or other medical care facilities that you may be interested in working for and ask if they can offer any recommendations about your college selections. It may also be a good idea to contact 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 two relevant statistics that you should find out about each of the physical therapist schools you are reviewing. One is their graduation rate. A low rate may mean that students left because of dissatisfaction with the program, the teachers, or both. After the students have graduated, how many of them are being hired with the assistance of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Casa Grande AZ area? If a school has a higher job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the healthcare community is good or even excellent. It also confirms that the college has a wide network of contacts to help students obtain internships or jobs upon graduation.

Does the College Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the school you select furnishes both exceptional training and a course of study that supports 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) as well as a degree from an accredited physical therapy program. Although licensing requirements vary state by state for PT and PTA graduates, some states require a minimum number of clinical hours be performed and passing scores on additional tests.

Are Internship Programs Offered? Find out if the physical therapist colleges you are interested in have relationships with Casa Grande AZ clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only a terrific manner to get hands on experience in a clinical setting, they are additionally a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they can help graduates and students establish professional connections in the Casa Grande health care community and help with job placement 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 probably want a smaller class size. Small classes permit more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapy schools you are looking at what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you a chance to speak with some of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapist program also.

Where is the College Located? For a number of students, the physical therapy college they select will have to be within travelling distance of their Casa Grande AZ residence. Those who have chosen to attend classes online 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 choose to enroll in a school that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges commonly charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges commonly charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Assistance Provided? The majority of DPT schools provide some type of financial assistance to their potential students. Inquire if the schools you are considering 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 colleges provide scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before you eliminate a school because the tuition is beyond your budget, learn what financial assistance may be available.

Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to confirm that the physical therapist college you finally choose can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you decide to continue working while you attend school. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Casa Grande AZ area, verify that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would need to carry. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of illness, work or family emergencies.

Learn More About Casa Grande Physical Therapy Colleges

Choose the Right Casa Grande Physical Therapist School

Deciding on the best physical therapy program is an important first decision you need to make to begin a fulfilling career in the health care profession. As we have addressed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and school you choose should both have exceptional reputations and accreditation. But there are additional critical questions that you need to ask regarding your college of choice as well. As you start your search for a physical therapy college keep in mind that many variables will lead you toward your ultimate decision. You might decide to go to each of the colleges to see their facilities and talk with active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this program help me accomplish my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By following our list of supplemental questions, you will be able to narrow down the field so you can make the best choice. 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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