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How to Enroll In the Right Physical Therapist Training Program Near Catalina Foothills Arizona

Catalina Foothills Arizona physical therapist working with female patient using balance ballEarning a physical therapist degree near Catalina Foothills AZ is a critical first step to beginning a rewarding career in the health care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been debilitated due to injury or illness regain mobility and function. But before they may legally practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they must acquire the necessary education and training. A PT must additionally become licensed in all states, many mandating that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So prior to selecting a physical therapy school, it's essential to evaluate those you are thinking about to ensure they will supply a superior education and satisfy your state's licensing standards. What you should not do is choose a college just because it happens to be the closest to your home or it has cheapest tuition. There are other significant qualifications that must be evaluated besides location and cost. But before we talk about what those qualifications are and the questions you should be asking, we'll address what a physical therapist does and what the educational options are.

What is a Physical Therapist's Job Description?

Catalina Foothills Arizona DPT helping woman to walk

Physical therapists work in diverse locations, including Catalina Foothills AZ private practices, hospitals, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and health clubs. What the facilities all share in common is that they have the equipment for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As earlier mentioned, physical therapists help patients that are suffering from a lack of mobility and in many cases pain due to illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they design a program of treatment to resolve the mobility issues and reduce or eradicate any pain. They also try to prevent any advancement of the disability. Although the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Head injuries
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Fire injuries
  • Hip Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists work in close affiliation with other Catalina Foothills AZ health professionals, including chiropractors, physicians, registered nurses and dentists. They can also oversee several physical therapy assistants who work under them assisting with diagnosing and treating their patients. One thing to bear in mind for anyone considering entering the physical therapy field, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists routinely lift patients and heavy equipment, and kneel, crouch and stand for extended periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapist Degrees Offered

Catalina Foothills Arizona DPT working with man in pool

There are 3 physical therapy degrees offered for individuals to enroll in at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these choices, the single degree that is available that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees target either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or prepping them to advance to the doctoral level. Below are brief summaries of degree levels that are offered to prospective students in the Catalina Foothills 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 obtained a high school diploma or GED to qualify for enrollment. The degrees are typically offered by community or junior colleges, and require 2 years to complete. An internship or other form of clinical training is usually part of the program.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapist training to ready students to progress to the doctoral level. While they are not required to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an essential initial step to becoming a PT. As with most bachelor's degrees, they typically take 4 years to finish and commonly include an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are required 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 the majority of cases. Clinical or practical training is an essential element along with the substantial lab and classroom instruction. Therefor the completion of an internship is mandated, not just for graduation but in some states for licensing also.

The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) has replaced the Master's of Physical Therapy (MPT), which has been phased out and is no longer available in the USA. Some practicing physical therapists holding a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the existing licensing requirement for a doctorate was instituted.

Physical Therapy Programs Online

Catalina Foothills Arizona woman taking physical therapist classes onlineAlthough not as prevalent as the on-campus options, there are some accredited online physical therapy degrees available, even more 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 in proximity of an available internship. Fortunately, the online portion of the program may be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Catalina Foothills AZ home. Online programs are not only partially more accessible, but in many instances more affordable. Tuition might be significantly lower than similar on-campus alternatives, and costs for commuting are reduced. And many of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These advantages can make the online alternative the ideal choice for those students that are dedicated enough to learn at home.

What to Ask Physical Therapist Schools

By now you most likely have made a decision regarding several of your initial queries, like the kind of physical therapy degree you intend to attain, where you want to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to spend for your education. But considering there are numerous PT schools within the Catalina Foothills AZ area and throughout Arizona, you'll need to research other qualifications also so as to further narrow your list of college choices. Also, you want to make certain that you enroll in the college that is best for you. That's why we have put together a list of critical questions that you need to ask the physical therapy programs you are reviewing. Ask all of the potential colleges these questions before making a final decision.

Is the Physical Therapist School Accredited?  Ask if the programs you are looking at have earned accreditation from a national or a regional agency. As previously mentioned, if you are pursuing a doctorate the program must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). If you enroll in an online college, it can also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's important that both the physical therapist program and school you enroll in are accredited, not simply the school. Also, verify that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Along with guaranteeing that you obtain an excellent education, accreditation might be mandated for state licensing and even for securing student loans or financial aid.

What is the College's Reputation? Along with accreditation, it's important that the college and program you select have exceptional reputations within the physical therapy profession. There are several ways you can investigate a PT school's reputation, beginning with asking for references from employers that they refer their students to. You may also check online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Call a few Catalina Foothills AZ physical therapist clinics or other medical care facilities that you might be interested in working for and ask if they can offer any insight about your program options. It might also be prudent to check with the Arizona Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been filed against the schools.

What is the College's Job Placement Percentage? There are a couple of useful statistics that you need to find out about each of the physical therapist colleges you are considering. First is their graduation rate. A lower rate might indicate that students left due to dissatisfaction with the program, the instructors, or both. Once the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being hired with the support of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Catalina Foothills AZ area? If a program has a higher job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the healthcare field is good or even exceptional. It also affirms that the program has a broad network of contacts to help students get internships or jobs upon graduation.

Does the Program Support Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the program you choose furnishes both exceptional training and a course of study that supports the licensing requirements 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) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapy program. While licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PTA and PT graduates, some states require a minimum number of clinical hours be performed as well as passing scores on supplemental exams.

Are Internship Programs Offered? Find out if the physical therapist colleges you are evaluating have relationships with Catalina Foothills AZ clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships an excellent means 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 graduates and students develop professional connections in the Catalina Foothills health care community and assist with job placement once licensed.

How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of student that prefers to sit far in the back of class or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a smaller class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapist schools you are looking at what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you a chance to talk with some of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the physical therapy program also.

Where is the Program Located? For a number of students, the physical therapy college they choose will need to be within travelling distance of their Catalina Foothills AZ home. Individuals who have opted 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 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 may be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges normally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges often charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.

Is Financial Assistance Provided? The majority of DPT schools provide some type of financial aid to their prospective students. Find out if the colleges you are examining have a financial aid office and find out what type of help is obtainable. At a minimum they should help in securing a student loan or any grants you might qualify for. Some physical therapy colleges offer scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before eliminating a program because the tuition is too expensive, learn what financial assistance might be available.

Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must confirm that the physical therapist college you ultimately select 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 Catalina Foothills AZ area, make certain that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would need to carry. Also, find out what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss due to illness, work or family obligations.

Learn More About Catalina Foothills Physical Therapist Schools

Choose the Right Catalina Foothills Physical Therapist School

Deciding on the right physical therapy program is a necessary initial decision you must make to start a rewarding career in the healthcare profession. As we have addressed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and school you decide on should both have exceptional reputations and accreditation. But there are additional critical questions that you should ask pertaining to your college of choice also. As you start your search for a physical therapist school keep in mind that a number of factors will guide you to your ultimate decision. You may want to visit different campuses to view their facilities and talk to current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this college help me achieve 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 right choice. And with the proper education and training, you can accomplish your dream of becoming a licensed physical therapist in Catalina Foothills Arizona.


 

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