How to Select the Right Physical Therapist Degree Program Near Casas Adobes Arizona
Earning a physical therapist degree near Casas Adobes AZ is a critical first step to starting a fulfilling career in the medical care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been disabled as a result of injury or illness regain 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, a large number mandating that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So prior to enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's essential to evaluate the ones you are looking at to ensure they will provide a quality education and comply with your state's licensing criteria. What you do not want to do is select a school just because it happens to be the nearest to your home or it has the lowest tuition. There are other significant qualifications that need to be considered in addition to location and cost. But before we talk about 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?
Physical therapists work in diverse locations, such as Casas Adobes AZ private practices, hospitals, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and sports facilities. What the facilities all share in common is that they are equipped for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As previously touched on, physical therapists help individuals that are experiencing a lack of mobility and in many cases pain due to injury or illness. After patient diagnosis, they create a course of treatment to resolve the mobility issues and reduce or eliminate any pain. They also strive to stop any advancement of the disability. Though the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are numerous, they include:
- Osteoporosis and Arthritis
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Head injuries
- Cardiac arrest
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Fire injuries
- Hip Replacement
- Cerebral Palsy
Licensed physical therapists work in close association with other Casas Adobes AZ health professionals, including doctors, chiropractors, dentists and nurses. They may also oversee one or more physical therapy assistants who work for them assisting with diagnosing and treating their patients. Something to take note of for anyone considering getting into the physical therapy field, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift patients and heavy equipment, and stand, crouch and kneel for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapist Degrees
There are three physical therapist degrees offered for students to pursue at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these options, the only degree that is attainable that qualifies the graduate to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees target either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or readying them to advance to the doctoral level. Following are brief descriptions of degrees that are available to prospective students in the Casas Adobes AZ area:
- Associate Degrees educate students to become physical therapy assistants, or can be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Candidates must have a high school diploma or equivalent to qualify for enrollment. The programs are typically offered by community or junior colleges, and take about 2 years for completion. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is typically a component of the course of study.
- Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapist training to prep candidates to progress to the doctoral level. Although they are not a requirement to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an integral initial step to practicing as a PT. Similar to most bachelor's degrees, they generally take four years to finish and usually incorporate an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
- Doctorate Degrees are mandated if you want 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 3 years to complete, making the total investment of time seven years in most cases. Clinical or practical training is an intregal element in addition to the extensive classroom and lab instruction. Therefor the completion of an internship is mandated, not only 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 United States. A number of practicing physical therapists having a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the present licensing requirement for a doctorate was instituted.
Physical Therapy Online Schools
Although not as common as the more traditional alternatives, there are some accredited online physical therapy 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 requires that the student live near the college campus or in proximity of an available internship. However, the online part of the program may be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Casas Adobes AZ home. Online schools are not only partially more accessible, but in many instances more economical. Tuition can be significantly lower than comparable on campus alternatives, and expenditures for commuting are minimized. And a number of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These benefits may make the online alternative the best choice for those students that are disciplined enough to learn at home.
Subjects to Ask Physical Therapist Programs
At this point you undoubtedly have made a decision concerning a few of your initial queries, including the kind of physical therapy degree you want to earn, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to invest in your education. But because there are numerous PT colleges within the Casas Adobes AZ area and across Arizona, you'll have to explore additional qualifications also in order to further reduce your list of school choices. Furthermore, you want to make certain that you choose the school that is right for you. That's why we have put together a list of critical questions that you need to ask the physical therapy colleges you are considering. Ask all of the competing colleges these questions prior to making a final selection.
Is the Physical Therapist Program Accredited? Find out if the programs you are reviewing have received accreditation from a national or a regional agency. As earlier 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 school, it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's essential that both the physical therapist program and school you choose are accredited, not simply the school. Also, check that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Along with guaranteeing that you receive a quality education, accreditation might be required for state licensing and even for getting student loans or financial assistance.
What is the School's Standing? Along with accreditation, it's important that the college and program you choose have excellent reputations within the physical therapy community. There are several ways you can look into a PT college's reputation, beginning 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 also. Call a few Casas Adobes AZ physical therapy clinics or other medical care facilities that you might have an interest in working for and ask if they can give you any advice about your college selections. It may also be prudent to check with the Arizona Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been filed against the colleges.
What is the School's Job Placement Percentage? There are a couple of important statistics that you should find out about each of the physical therapist programs you are considering. One is their graduation rate. A lower rate may suggest that students left due to 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 school's job placement program, particularly in the Casas Adobes AZ area? If a program has a high job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the health care field is good or even excellent. It also verifies that the program has a broad network of contacts to assist students gain internships or employment after graduation.
Does the School Support Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the program you select provides both excellent training and a course of study that supports the licensing criteria for Arizona or the state where you will be practicing. In each state a passing score is required on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) as well as a degree from an accredited physical therapist program. Although licensing requirements differ state by state for PT and PTA graduates, a number of states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be completed as well as passing scores on additional exams.
Are Internship Programs Sponsored? Find out if the physical therapist colleges you are reviewing have partnerships with Casas Adobes AZ hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships an excellent way to obtain hands on training in a clinical environment, they are additionally a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they can help students and graduates form professional relationships in the Casas Adobes health care community and help with obtaining employment once licensed.
What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the kind of student that prefers to sit way in the rear of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a small class size. Smaller classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapy schools you are reviewing what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you an opportunity to speak with several of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the physical therapy program as well.
Where is the College Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapy school they select will have to be within driving distance of their Casas Adobes AZ home. Those who have decided to attend classes online obviously will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. Something to bear in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a program that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges generally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges generally charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? The majority of DPT colleges supply some form of financial support to their potential students. Inquire if the schools you are reviewing have a financial aid department and see what type of assistance is obtainable. They at least should help in acquiring a student loan or any scholarships you may qualify for. A number of physical therapy schools provide scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before you eliminate a school because the tuition is beyond your budget, learn what financial assistance might be available.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to verify that the physical therapy school you finally choose can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you choose to continue working while attending school. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Casas Adobes AZ area, confirm that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, find out if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would have to carry. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Casas Adobes Physical Therapist School
Deciding on the best physical therapist school is a necessary first decision you must make to launch a rewarding career in the medical field. As we have discussed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and college you decide on should both have outstanding reputations and be accredited. But there are other important questions that you need to ask pertaining to your school of choice as well. As you begin your search for a physical therapy college bear in mind that many factors will lead you toward your ultimate decision. You may want to go to different colleges to view their facilities and talk to active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this school help me achieve my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By adhering to our list of additional questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the options so you can make the appropriate choice. And with the proper training and education, you can fulfill your dream to become a licensed physical therapist in Casas Adobes Arizona.