How to Pick the Right Physical Therapist Course Near Casa Grande Arizona
Earning a physical therapy degree near Casa Grande AZ is a critical first step to starting a fulfilling career in the healthcare field. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been disabled due to injury or illness regain function and mobility. But before they may legally practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they need to receive the appropriate training and education. A PT must additionally become licensed in all states, a large number requiring that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So prior to selecting a physical therapy school, it's important to research the ones you are thinking about to ensure they will furnish a quality education and comply with your state's licensing requirements. What you should not do is enroll in a college simply because it happens to be the nearest to your home or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other significant qualifications that need to be considered along with location and cost. But before we cover what those qualifications are and the questions you should be asking, we'll cover what a physical therapist does and the options for education.
What is a Physical Therapist?
Physical therapists work in diverse settings, including Casa Grande AZ hospitals, health clinics, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and sports facilities. What the facilities all share in common is that they have the equipment for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As previously stated, physical therapists help patients that are struggling with a lack of mobility and in many cases pain caused by illness or injury. After patient diagnosis, they develop a course of treatment to resolve the mobility problems and lessen or eradicate any pain. They also strive to prevent any progression of the disability. While the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are abundant, they include:
- Arthritis or Osteoporosis
- Car or motor cycle accidents
- Cardiac arrest
- Sports injuries
- Burn injuries
- Hip Replacement
- Cerebral Palsy
Licensed physical therapists practice in close affiliation with other Casa Grande AZ health professionals, including doctors, chiropractors, registered nurses and dentists. They can also manage one or more physical therapy assistants who work for them in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. One thing to bear in mind for anyone thinking about entering the physical therapy profession, it is rather 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
There are 3 physical therapist degree options available for students to pursue at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these choices, the only degree that is attainable that qualifies the graduate to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees emphasize either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or readying them to advance to the doctoral level. Following are brief summaries of degrees that are available to prospective students in the Casa Grande AZ area:
- Associate Degrees educate students to practice as physical therapy assistants, or can be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Candidates must have a high school diploma or equivalent to qualify for enrollment. The programs are typically offered by junior or community colleges, and take about two years to complete. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is usually a portion of the curriculum.
- Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapist education to prepare candidates to advance to the doctoral level. While they are not a requirement to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an important first step to becoming a PT. Similar to the majority of bachelor's degrees, they typically require four years to finish and usually incorporate 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). 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 in addition to the substantial lab and classroom instruction. Therefor the completion of an internship is required, not just for graduation but in several states for licensing as well.
The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) has replaced 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 even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the existing licensing mandate for a doctorate was implemented.
Physical Therapist Degrees Online
Although not as prevalent as the on-campus alternatives, there are a number of accredited online physical therapist programs offered, more so at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on structure of the training, internships and clinical lab work are integrated with the online classes. This requires that the student live near the school campus or nearby an available internship. Fortunately, the online portion of the course of study can 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 cases more economical. Tuition may be significantly lower than similar on campus alternatives, and costs for commuting are reduced. And many of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These advantages may make the online option the best choice for those students that are disciplined enough to learn at home.
Questions to Ask Physical Therapy Schools
At this point you probably have made a decision regarding a few of your preliminary questions, including the kind 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 so many PT schools within the Casa Grande AZ area and across Arizona, you'll have to look into other qualifications also so as to further narrow your list of school choices. Moreover, you want to make sure that you enroll in the program that is best for you. That's why we have collected a list of critical questions that you must ask the physical therapist colleges you are thinking about. Ask all of the competing schools these questions prior to making a final selection.
Is the Physical Therapist Program Accredited? Find out if the schools you are reviewing have received accreditation from a regional or a national agency. As earlier mentioned, 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 school, it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapy program and school you select are accredited, not simply the school. Also, make sure that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Along with ensuring that you obtain a quality education, accreditation might be required for state licensing as well as for getting student loans or financial aid.
What is the College's Ranking? In addition to accreditation, it's imperative that the school and program you choose have exceptional reputations within the physical therapy community. There are a number of ways you can investigate a PT school's reputation, beginning with asking for references from employers that they place their graduates with. You may also check online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. Contact several Casa Grande AZ physical therapy clinics or other healthcare facilities that you might be interested in working for and ask if they can give you any recommendations about your school options. It may also be prudent to contact the Arizona Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been submitted against the colleges.
What is the Program's Job Placement Percentage? There are a couple of significant statistics that you need to find out about each of the physical therapy programs you are considering. First is their graduation rate. A low rate might mean that students dropped out because of displeasure with the program, the teachers, or both. Once the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being placed in jobs with the assistance of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Casa Grande AZ area? If a program has a higher job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the health care community is good or even outstanding. It also verifies that the school 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 essential that the school you select furnishes both exceptional training and a course of study that supports the licensing requirements for Arizona or the state where you will be working. In every state a passing score is required on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapy program. Although licensing requirements vary state by state for PT and PTA graduates, a number of states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be performed and passing scores on supplemental exams.
Are Internship Programs Sponsored? Find out if the physical therapist programs you are reviewing have relationships with Casa Grande AZ hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only a great way to obtain hands on experience in a clinical environment, they are also a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they may help graduates and students develop professional connections in the Casa Grande medical community and help with job placement once licensed.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of person that prefers to sit far in the back of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will likely prefer a small class size. Smaller classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapy colleges you are looking at what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you a chance to speak with a few of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapy program also.
Where is the School Located? For many students, the physical therapist school they select will have to be within driving distance of their Casa Grande AZ home. Those who have opted to attend classes online naturally will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of importance. One thing to bear in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a school that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you may need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges typically 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 Help Provided? Most DPT colleges supply some form of financial assistance to their prospective students. Find out if the colleges you are looking at have a financial assistance department and find out what kind of assistance is offered. They at least should help in obtaining a student loan or any grants you may qualify for. A number of physical therapy schools provide scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before you eliminate a college because the tuition is beyond your budget, learn what financial aid may be available.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to confirm that the physical therapy school you ultimately pick can provide the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you opt to continue working while attending classes. If you must 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 option and how many credit hours or courses you would have to carry. Also, learn what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Casa Grande Physical Therapy School
Choosing the right physical therapy college is a necessary initial decision you need to make to begin a fulfilling career in the health care field. As we have discussed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and school you enroll in should both have outstanding reputations and be accredited. However there are other critical questions that you need to ask concerning your school of choice as well. As you commence your search for a physical therapist program bear in mind that many variables will lead you toward your final decision. You may want to visit different 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 practicing licensed physical therapist? By following our list of additional questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the options 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.