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How to Pick the Right Physical Therapist College Near Casa Grande Arizona

Casa Grande Arizona physical therapist working with woman holding exercise ballReceiving a physical therapy degree near Casa Grande AZ is an important first step to starting a rewarding career in the medical care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been debilitated due to illness or injury gain back mobility and function. But before they can practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they need to acquire the proper training and education. A PT must additionally become licensed in every state, a large number requiring that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So before enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's essential to research those you are thinking about to ensure they will furnish a quality education and meet your state's licensing criteria. What you do not want to do is select a college just because it happens to be the nearest to your residence or it has cheapest tuition. There are other significant qualifications that must be considered in addition to location and cost. But before we talk about what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, we'll address what a physical therapist does and the options for education.

What Does a Physical Therapist Do?

Casa Grande Arizona physical therapist assisting woman to walk

Physical therapists practice in a variety of settings, including Casa Grande AZ hospitals, health clinics, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and sports facilities. What the facilities all have in common is that they have the equipment for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As earlier mentioned, physical therapists help people that are suffering from a lack of mobility and often pain due to injury or illness. After diagnosing a patient, they design a program of treatment to deal with the mobility problems and reduce or eliminate any pain. They also strive to prevent any progression of the disability. Though the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Car or motor cycle accidents
  • Strokes
  • Heart attacks
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Burn injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists practice in close partnerships with other Casa Grande AZ medical professionals, including chiropractors, physicians, dentists and nurses. They can also supervise several physical therapy assistants who work for them assisting with the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. Something to bear in mind for anyone considering entering the physical therapy field, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists routinely lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and stand, crouch and kneel for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degree Options

Casa Grande Arizona DPT working with man in pool

There are 3 physical therapist degrees offered for individuals to enroll in at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these choices, the one degree that is attainable that qualifies the graduate to practice as 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 short descriptions of degrees that are available to prospective students in the Casa Grande AZ area:

  • Associate Degrees prepare students to be physical therapy assistants, or can be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Applicants must have earned a high school diploma or equivalent to be accepted for enrollment. The degrees are typically provided by community colleges, and take about two years to complete. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is usually a component of the program.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapy education to prep candidates to move up to the doctoral level. While they are not required to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an important preliminary step to becoming a PT. As with most bachelor's degrees, they typically require four years to complete and usually include 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). After earning the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes three years to finish, making the overall commitment 7 years in most cases. Practical or clinical training is an important component along with the extensive lab and classroom instruction. Consequently the fulfillment of an internship is required, not just for graduation but in a number of states for licensing as well.

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 licensed physical therapists having a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the current licensing mandate for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapy Colleges Online

Casa Grande Arizona female student taking physical therapist classes onlineAlthough not as common as the on campus alternatives, there are a number of accredited online physical therapist degrees offered, more so 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 school campus or in proximity of an available internship. Fortunately, the online portion of the course of study may be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Casa Grande AZ home. Online programs are not only to some extent more accessible, but in a number of instances more economical. Tuition can be significantly less than comparable on campus options, and expenditures for commuting are reduced. And a number of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These advantages may make the online alternative the right choice for those students that are motivated enough to attend classes at home.

Topics to Ask Physical Therapist Programs

By now you undoubtedly have come to decision concerning several of your initial questions, such as the kind of physical therapist degree you intend to earn, where you want to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to invest in 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 also so as to further reduce your list of college choices. Moreover, you need to make certain that you enroll in the program that is ideal for you. That's the reason we have collected a list of essential questions that you must ask the physical therapist schools you are considering. Ask each of the potential schools these questions before making a final selection.

Is the Physical Therapy College Accredited?  Find out if the programs you are looking at have received 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 choose an online college, it can also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapist school and program you choose are accredited, not just the school. Additionally, make sure that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. In addition to guaranteeing that you obtain a quality education, accreditation might be required for state licensing as well as for securing student loans or financial assistance.

What is the Program's Standing? Along with accreditation, it's essential that the college and program you choose have excellent reputations within the physical therapy community. There are multiple ways you can research a PT college's reputation, beginning with requesting references from employers that they refer their students to. You may also search for online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. Contact some Casa Grande AZ physical therapy centers or other healthcare facilities that you might be interested in working for and ask if they can provide any recommendations about your college options. It may also be a good idea to check with the Arizona Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been submitted against the schools.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? There are a two important statistics that you should find out about all of the physical therapist programs you are looking at. First is their graduation rate. A lower rate may indicate that students dropped out due to displeasure with the program, the instructors, or both. Once the students have graduated, how many 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 exceptional. It also confirms that the college has a large network of contacts to help students gain internships or jobs upon graduation.

Does the School Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's important that the college you enroll in provides both excellent training and a curriculum that satisfies the licensing criteria for Arizona or the state where you will be working. In each state a passing score is required on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) in addition to a degree from an accredited physical therapy school. While licensing requirements differ state by state for PTA and PT graduates, a number of states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be completed as well as passing scores on supplemental exams.

Are Internship Programs Provided? Inquire if the physical therapy programs you are interested in have relationships with Casa Grande AZ hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only a great manner to receive hands on experience in a clinical environment, they are additionally a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they may help graduates and students form professional connections in the Casa Grande healthcare community and help with job placement once licensed.

What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the sort of student that prefers to sit way 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 one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapist colleges you are researching what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you an opportunity to speak with several of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapy program as well.

Where is the College Located? For a number of students, the physical therapist college they decide on will have to be within commuting distance of their Casa Grande AZ residence. Those who have chosen 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 importance. Something to bear in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a school that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges usually 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? The majority of DPT colleges offer some type of financial aid to their potential students. Inquire if the schools you are considering have a financial aid department and find out what kind of assistance is obtainable. At a minimum they should help in acquiring a student loan or any scholarships you may qualify for. Some physical therapy schools provide scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before you eliminate a college because the tuition is beyond your budget, find out what financial aid might be available.

Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must confirm that the physical therapy school you ultimately choose can provide the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you choose to continue working while you attend school. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Casa Grande AZ area, check that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, find out if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would need to enroll in. Also, learn what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of illness, work or family obligations.

Learn More About Casa Grande Physical Therapy Degrees

Enroll in the Right Casa Grande Physical Therapist School

Choosing the best physical therapist college is an important first decision you need to make to launch a rewarding career in the healthcare profession. As we have addressed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and school you enroll in should both have exceptional reputations and be accredited. But there are other critical questions that you should ask pertaining to your college of choice as well. As you begin your search for a physical therapy college bear in mind that numerous variables will guide you to your ultimate decision. You might want to visit different campuses to view their facilities and speak to current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this college help me accomplish my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By following our list of supplemental questions, you will be able to narrow down the field so you can make the ideal selection. And with the proper training and education, you can fulfill your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in Casa Grande Arizona.


 

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