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

Casa Grande Arizona physical therapist working with female patient using exercise ballObtaining a physical therapy degree near Casa Grande AZ is an essential first step to launching a rewarding career in the medical care field. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been debilitated due to illness or injury gain back mobility and function. But before they can practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they need to acquire the proper education and training. A PT must additionally be licensed in all states, many requiring that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So prior to choosing a physical therapy school, it's necessary to research those you are considering to ensure they will supply a superior education and comply with your state's licensing criteria. What you do not want to do is choose a college simply because it happens to be the closest to your home or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other important qualifications that need to be evaluated besides 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 Do Physical Therapists Do?

Casa Grande Arizona physical therapist assisting female patient to walk

Physical therapists work in a variety of locations, including Casa Grande AZ hospitals, health clinics, 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 experiencing a lack of mobility and frequently pain caused by illness or injury. After patient diagnosis, they design a course of treatment to resolve the mobility problems and lessen or eliminate any pain. They also try to prevent any progression of the disability. Although the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are abundant, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Strokes
  • Heart attacks
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Burn injuries
  • Hip Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists practice in close association with other Casa Grande AZ medical specialists, including doctors, chiropractors, registered nurses and dentists. They may also manage one or more physical therapy assistants who work under them assisting with the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. One thing to bear in mind for anyone considering getting into the physical therapy profession, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and stand, crouch and kneel for extended periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapist Degrees

Casa Grande Arizona physical therapist working with patient in pool

There are three physical therapy degree options offered for students to enroll in at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these alternatives, the single degree that is available that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees target 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 Casa Grande AZ area:

  • Associate Degrees prepare students to become physical therapy assistants, or can be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Candidates must have obtained a high school diploma or equivalent to qualify for enrollment. The degrees are typically offered by community or junior colleges, and take about two years for completion. An internship or other form of clinical training is typically part of the course of study.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapist education to prep students to move up to the doctoral level. While they are not a requirement to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an important initial step to becoming a PT. As with most bachelor's degrees, they generally require 4 years to complete and usually include an internship program of at least 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are a requirement in order to become a practicing licensed 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 overall investment of time seven years in most cases. Clinical training is an intregal element in addition to the extensive classroom and lab instruction. Consequently 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 taken the place of the Master's of Physical Therapy (MPT), which has been eliminated and is no longer offered in the United States. Some licensed physical therapists having a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the current licensing requirement for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapy Online Colleges

Casa Grande Arizona woman taking physical therapy classes onlineWhile not as common as the more traditional alternatives, there are a number of accredited online physical therapy 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 requires that the student live near the school campus or in proximity of an available internship. Fortunately, the online segment of the course of study can be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Casa Grande AZ residence. Online schools are not only to some extent more accessible, but in a number of cases more economical. Tuition might be somewhat less than comparable on-campus alternatives, and costs for commuting are reduced. And many of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These advantages can make the online option the best choice for those students that are dedicated enough to attend classes at home.

What to Ask Physical Therapy Programs

By now you undoubtedly have made a decision regarding several of your initial questions, such as the type of physical therapy degree you would like to obtain, where you want to attend classes, and how much you can afford to invest in your education. But because there are numerous PT schools within the Casa Grande AZ area and across Arizona, you'll need to explore additional qualifications as well so as to further narrow your list of school choices. Moreover, you want to make sure that you choose the school that is right for you. That's why we have collected a list of essential questions that you need to ask the physical therapy programs you are considering. Ask all of the competing schools these questions before making an ultimate selection.

Is the Physical Therapist Program Accredited?  Find out if the colleges you are looking at have received 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 select an online program, it can also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapist program and school you select are accredited, not simply the school. Also, verify that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. In addition to guaranteeing that you obtain a quality education, accreditation might be mandated for state licensing and even for getting student loans or financial aid.

What is the School's Ranking? Along with accreditation, it's imperative that the school and program you select have excellent reputations within the physical therapist community. There are several ways you can investigate a PT college's reputation, starting with asking for references from employers that they place their graduates with. You can also search for online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. Call some Casa Grande AZ physical therapy clinics or other medical care facilities that you might be interested in working for and ask if they can give you any advice about your college options. 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 College's Job Placement Rate? There are a couple of useful statistics that you should know about all of the physical therapy schools you are reviewing. One is their graduation rate. A low rate may mean that students dropped out because of displeasure with the program, the instructors, or both. After the students have graduated, how many of them are being placed in jobs with the help of the school'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 field is good or even outstanding. It also affirms that the program has a large network of contacts to assist students obtain internships or jobs upon graduation.

Does the Program Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the program you select provides both exceptional training and a course of study 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 vary state by state for PTA and PT graduates, a number of states require a minimum number of clinical hours be completed as well as passing scores on additional exams.

Are Internships Offered? Find out if the physical therapist colleges you are evaluating have relationships with Casa Grande AZ clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific means to receive practical experience in a clinical setting, they are additionally a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they may assist graduates and students form professional connections in the Casa Grande health care community and assist with job placement after licensing.

How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of person that prefers to sit far in the rear of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will probably want a small class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapy colleges you are considering what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you a chance to converse with several of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the physical therapist program as well.

Where is the College Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapy school they select will need to be within commuting distance of their Casa Grande AZ residence. Individuals who have decided to attend classes online naturally will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. One thing to keep in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a program that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges commonly charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges normally charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.

Is Financial Assistance Provided? The majority of DPT schools supply some form of financial support to their potential students. Inquire if the schools you are looking at have a financial aid office and find out what kind of aid is obtainable. At a minimum they should help in securing a student loan or any scholarships you may be eligible for. A number of physical therapist colleges offer scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before eliminating a college because the tuition is beyond your budget, learn what financial assistance may be available.

Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must verify that the physical therapy program you finally choose can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you opt to continue working while attending classes. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Casa Grande AZ area, make certain that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, verify if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would need to enroll in. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss because of work, illness or family obligations.

Learn More About Casa Grande Physical Therapist Programs

Choose the Right Casa Grande Physical Therapy School

Deciding on the best physical therapist college is a necessary initial decision you must make to start a fulfilling career in the healthcare profession. As we have covered in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and college you enroll in should both have exceptional reputations and accreditation. But there are other important questions that you need to ask concerning your college of choice as well. As you begin your search for a physical therapist college bear in mind that numerous factors will lead you toward your final decision. You may want to go to each of the colleges to view their facilities and talk with current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this school help me realize my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By following our list of additional questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the field so you can make the appropriate choice. And with the necessary education and training, you can fulfill your dream of becoming a licensed physical therapist in Casa Grande Arizona.


 

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