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How to Find the Right Physical Therapist Course Near Catalina Foothills Arizona

Catalina Foothills Arizona physical therapist working with female patient using exercise ballGetting a physical therapy degree near Catalina Foothills AZ is a critical first step to starting a fulfilling career in the healthcare field. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been incapacitated due to injury or illness regain function and mobility. But before they may legally practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they need to obtain the appropriate training and education. A PT must additionally become licensed in every state, a large number requiring that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So before selecting a physical therapy school, it's necessary to research those you are thinking about to ensure they will provide a quality education and meet your state's licensing criteria. What you should not do is choose a college just 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 evaluated 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 what the educational options are.

What Do Physical Therapists Do?

Catalina Foothills Arizona DPT assisting woman to walk

Physical therapists practice in varying locations, such as Catalina Foothills AZ private practices, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and health clubs. What the facilities all share in common is that they have the equipment for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As previously mentioned, physical therapists help patients that are experiencing a lack of mobility and in many cases pain caused by injury or illness. After patient diagnosis, they create a course of treatment to address the mobility problems and reduce or eliminate any pain. They also strive to stop any progression of the disability. Although the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are abundant, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Car or motor cycle accidents
  • Head injuries
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Burn injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Cerebral Palsy

Licensed physical therapists work in close affiliation with other Catalina Foothills AZ health professionals, including chiropractors, physicians, dentists and nurses. They can also manage one or more physical therapy assistants who work for them in diagnosing and treating their patients. Something to bear in mind for anyone thinking about going into the physical therapy field, it is quite 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 Therapist Degrees Offered

Catalina Foothills Arizona physical therapist working with patient in pool

There are 3 physical therapist degrees available for individuals to pursue at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these choices, the one degree that is offered that qualifies the graduate to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees concentrate on either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or readying them to advance to the doctoral level. Below are short summaries of degrees that are available 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 equivalent to be accepted for enrollment. The degrees are usually offered by junior or community colleges, and require 2 years to complete. An internship or other form of clinical training is typically part of the course of study.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapist training to prep students to move up to the doctoral level. Although they are not required to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an essential preliminary step to becoming a PT. As with the majority of bachelor's degrees, they typically require four years to complete and often include an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are mandated 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 3 years to complete, making the total commitment seven years in most cases. Clinical training is an essential component in addition to the extensive lab and classroom instruction. Consequently the fulfillment of an internship is mandated, not solely for graduation but in a number of 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 attainable in the United States. Some licensed physical therapists holding a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the existing licensing requirement for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapy Online Programs

Catalina Foothills Arizona woman taking physical therapy classes onlineWhile not as prevalent as the on-campus options, there are some accredited online physical therapy programs offered, more so at the graduate level. Because of 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 a sponsored internship. Fortunately, the online portion of the course of study can be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Catalina Foothills AZ home. Online schools are not only to some extent more accessible, but in many cases more economical. Tuition may be significantly less than similar on-campus alternatives, and expenses for commuting are minimized. And many of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These advantages 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 most likely have come to decision regarding several of your preliminary questions, including the type of physical therapy degree you want to attain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much you can afford to spend for your education. But since there are so many PT colleges within the Catalina Foothills AZ area and throughout Arizona, you'll need to research additional qualifications as well in order to further reduce your list of college options. Moreover, you want to make sure that you select the school that is right for you. That's why we have put together a list of essential questions that you must ask the physical therapy programs you are thinking about. Ask all of the potential colleges these questions prior to making an ultimate selection.

Is the Physical Therapy School Accredited?  Ask if the schools you are reviewing have earned accreditation from a regional or a national organization. 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 choose an online college, it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's essential that both the physical therapy school and program you choose are accredited, not just the school. Also, verify that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Along with guaranteeing that you obtain an excellent education, accreditation may be required for state licensing and even for getting student loans or financial aid.

What is the School's Standing? Along with accreditation, it's essential that the school and program you select have excellent reputations within the physical therapy community. There are multiple ways you can look into a PT program'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. Contact several 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 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 Program's Job Placement Rate? There are a two relevant statistics that you need to know about each of the physical therapy programs you are reviewing. First is their graduation rate. A lower rate may suggest that students left because of dissatisfaction with the program, the teachers, or both. After the students have graduated, how many of them are being hired with the assistance of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Catalina Foothills AZ area? If a college has a higher job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the healthcare community is good or even excellent. It also confirms that the school has a broad network of contacts to assist students gain internships or employment upon graduation.

Does the School Support Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the college you select provides both excellent 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) in addition to a degree from an accredited physical therapy school. Although licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PT and PTA graduates, a number of states require a minimum number of clinical hours be performed as well as passing scores on supplemental tests.

Are Internship Programs Offered? Inquire if the physical therapy colleges you are interested in have associations with Catalina Foothills AZ clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only a great way to receive practical experience in a clinical environment, they are also a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they may help students and graduates develop professional relationships in the Catalina Foothills health care community and help with job placement after licensing.

What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the sort of person that prefers to sit way in the rear of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will likely prefer a smaller class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapist colleges you are researching what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you an opportunity to talk with a few of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the physical therapy program as well.

Where is the Program Located? For a number of students, the physical therapy school they pick will need to be within commuting distance of their Catalina Foothills AZ home. Individuals who have opted to attend classes online naturally will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. One thing to keep in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a school that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges often 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 Support Provided? The majority of DPT colleges offer some form of financial aid to their potential students. Find out if the schools you are examining have a financial assistance office and find out what type of aid is offered. At a minimum they should help in obtaining a student loan or any scholarships you might be eligible for. A number of physical therapist schools provide scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before you eliminate a school because the tuition is too expensive, find out what financial assistance might be available.

Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must confirm that the physical therapy school you finally select can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you choose to continue working while attending classes. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Catalina Foothills AZ area, confirm that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would need to carry. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss due to work, illness or family obligations.

Find Out More About Catalina Foothills Online Physical Therapy Colleges

Enroll in the Right Catalina Foothills Physical Therapist School

Selecting the best physical therapist college is a necessary initial decision you need to make to start a gratifying career in the health care field. As we have addressed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and school you pick should both have outstanding reputations and be accredited. However there are additional critical questions that you should ask regarding your school of choice also. As you commence your search for a physical therapy program bear in mind that a number of factors will lead you toward your ultimate decision. You may want to go to different schools to view their facilities and speak to current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this program 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 options so you can make the ideal choice. And with the necessary training and education, you can fulfill your dream to become a licensed physical therapist in Catalina Foothills Arizona.


 

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