How to Select the Right Physical Therapy Training Program Near Catalina Foothills Arizona
Obtaining a physical therapy degree near Catalina Foothills AZ is an essential first step to launching a fulfilling career in the healthcare field. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been disabled due to injury or illness gain back mobility and function. But before they may legally practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they need to obtain the necessary training and education. A PT must additionally be licensed in all states, a large number requiring that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So before selecting a physical therapy school, it's necessary to research those you are considering to make certain they will supply a superior education and meet your state's licensing requirements. What you should not do is select a school simply because it happens to be the nearest to your residence or it has cheapest tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that must be evaluated besides cost and location. But before we discuss what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, we'll cover what a physical therapist does and what the educational options are.
What Do Physical Therapists Do?
Physical therapists work in varying locations, including Catalina Foothills AZ hospitals, health clinics, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and sports facilities. What the facilities all have in common is that they have the equipment for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As earlier mentioned, physical therapists help people that are struggling with a lack of mobility and often pain caused by injury or illness. After patient diagnosis, they develop a program of treatment to resolve the mobility issues and reduce or eliminate any pain. They also endeavor to prevent any advancement of the disability. Though the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are numerous, they include:
- Osteoporosis and Arthritis
- Car or motor cycle accidents
- Cardiac arrest
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Burn injuries
- Knee Replacement
- Cerebral Palsy
Licensed physical therapists work in close partnerships with other Catalina Foothills AZ medical specialists, including chiropractors, physicians, registered nurses and dentists. They can also supervise several physical therapy assistants who work for them in diagnosing and treating their patients. Something to bear in mind for anyone thinking about getting into the physical therapy profession, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and stand, crouch and kneel for long periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapy Degree Options
There are 3 physical therapist degrees offered for individuals to enroll in at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these alternatives, the one degree that is offered that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees concentrate on either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or readying them to progress to the doctoral level. Following are brief descriptions of degree levels that are available to prospective students in the Catalina Foothills AZ area:
- Associate Degrees prepare students to be physical therapy assistants, or may be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Candidates must have obtained a high school diploma or GED to be accepted for enrollment. The programs are most often offered by junior or community colleges, and require 2 years for completion. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is usually a portion of the course of study.
- Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapist education to ready candidates to move up to the doctoral level. While they are not a requirement to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an important first step to practicing as a PT. As with the majority of bachelor's degrees, they normally take four years to finish and commonly include an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
- Doctorate Degrees are a requirement 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). In addition to the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes 3 years to complete, making the overall investment of time seven years in most cases. Clinical training is an important component in addition to the extensive lab and classroom instruction. Therefor the completion of an internship is required, not only for graduation but in some 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 available in the United States. A number of practicing 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 instituted.
Physical Therapist Online Programs
Although not as prevalent as the on-campus alternatives, there are a number of accredited online physical therapy degrees available, more so at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on nature of the training, clinical lab work and internships are combined with the online classes. This requires that the student live close to the college campus or nearby an available internship. However, the online part of the course of study can be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Catalina Foothills AZ home. Online schools are not only to some extent more accessible, but in many instances more affordable. Tuition might be significantly lower than comparable on-campus alternatives, and expenditures for commuting are minimized. And many of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These benefits can make the online option the best choice for those students that are motivated enough to attend classes at home.
What to Ask Physical Therapist Colleges
By now you probably have made a decision concerning a few of your initial queries, such as the type of physical therapy degree you would like to earn, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much you can afford to invest in your education. But since there are numerous PT schools within the Catalina Foothills AZ area and throughout Arizona, you'll have to explore additional qualifications also so as to further reduce your list of school options. Furthermore, you want to be sure that you pick the program that is right for you. That's the reason we have collected a list of essential questions that you need to ask the physical therapist programs you are reviewing. Ask each of the potential schools these questions before making a final decision.
Is the Physical Therapist School Accredited? Find out if the programs you are looking at have earned accreditation from a national or a regional organization. As earlier stated, if you are pursuing a doctoral degree the program must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). If you enroll in an online program, it may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapist school and program you select are accredited, not just the school. Also, make sure that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Besides ensuring that you receive an excellent education, accreditation may be mandated for state licensing as well as for securing student loans or financial aid.
What is the Program's Ranking? Along with accreditation, it's important that the college and program you select have excellent reputations within the physical therapy community. There are several ways you can look into a PT school's reputation, starting with requesting 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 some Catalina Foothills AZ physical therapy centers or other healthcare facilities that you might have an interest in working for and ask if they can give you any advice about your school selections. It might 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 colleges.
What is the College's Job Placement Rate? There are a two important statistics that you should know about all of the physical therapist programs you are reviewing. One is their graduation rate. A lower rate might indicate that students dropped out due to dissatisfaction with the program, the teachers, or both. Once the students have graduated, how many of them are being placed in jobs with the assistance of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Catalina Foothills AZ area? If a college has a high job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the health care community is good or even exceptional. It also confirms that the college has a broad network of contacts to help students obtain internships or employment after graduation.
Does the College Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the college you enroll in furnishes both superior training and a course of study that satisfies the licensing requirements for Arizona or the state where you will be working. In each state a passing score is needed 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, many states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be completed as well as passing scores on additional tests.
Are Internship Programs Sponsored? Inquire if the physical therapist programs you are interested in have partnerships with Catalina Foothills AZ hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships an excellent means to receive practical training in a clinical setting, they are additionally a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they can help graduates and students develop professional connections in the Catalina Foothills healthcare community and help with job placement after licensing.
How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of student that likes to sit way in the rear of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a small class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapist schools you are reviewing 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 an opportunity to speak with several of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the physical therapist program as well.
Where is the School Located? For a number of students, the physical therapy college they pick will have to be within commuting distance of their Catalina Foothills AZ home. Those who have chosen to attend classes online naturally will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. One thing to keep in mind is that if you decide 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 often charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges often charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.
Is Financial Help Offered? Most DPT schools provide some form of financial support to their prospective students. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have a financial aid office and see what type of aid is offered. They at least should help in securing a student loan or any grants you may be eligible for. A number of physical therapy colleges provide scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before eliminating a school because the tuition is too expensive, find out what financial aid might be available.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to verify that the physical therapist college you finally pick can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you decide to continue working while you attend classes. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Catalina Foothills AZ area, confirm that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would need to enroll in. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Catalina Foothills Physical Therapist School
Selecting the right physical therapy program is an important initial decision you have to make to launch a gratifying career in the healthcare field. As we have covered in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and college you pick should both have outstanding reputations and accreditation. However there are other critical questions that you need to ask pertaining to your college of choice also. As you begin your search for a physical therapist program bear in mind that numerous factors will lead you toward your final decision. You may want to go to each of the colleges to see their facilities and talk with current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this college help me reach my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By following our list of additional 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 achieve your dream to become a licensed physical therapist in Catalina Foothills Arizona.