How to Enroll In the Right Physical Therapy Degree Program Near Catalina Foothills Arizona
Getting a physical therapy degree near Catalina Foothills AZ is an essential first step to beginning a fulfilling career in the healthcare industry. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been incapacitated due to illness or injury regain function and mobility. But before they may legally practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they need to get the proper education and training. A PT must additionally be licensed in every state, many requiring that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So before choosing a physical therapy school, it's essential to investigate those you are considering to make sure they will deliver a quality education and comply with your state's licensing requirements. What you do not want to do is enroll in a school simply because it happens to be the closest to your residence or it has the lowest tuition. There are other important qualifications that need to be evaluated besides 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?
Physical therapists practice in diverse locations, such as Catalina Foothills 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 touched on, physical therapists help patients that are struggling with a lack of mobility and often pain due to injury or illness. After diagnosing a patient, they design a program of treatment to address the mobility problems and lessen or eradicate any pain. They also strive to prevent any advancement of the disability. While the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are abundant, they include:
- Arthritis or Osteoporosis
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Head injuries
- Heart attacks
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Burn injuries
- Hip Replacement
- Cerebral Palsy
Licensed physical therapists work in close partnerships with other Catalina Foothills AZ health specialists, including doctors, chiropractors, dentists and nurses. They may also manage one or more physical therapy assistants who work for them in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. One thing to keep in mind for anyone considering going into the physical therapy field, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists routinely lift patients and heavy equipment, and stand, crouch and kneel for extended periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapist Degrees Available
There are three physical therapist degrees available for students to enroll in at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these choices, the single degree that is attainable that qualifies the graduate to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees focus on either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or prepping them to advance to the doctoral level. Following are short explanations of degrees that are offered to prospective students in the Catalina Foothills AZ area:
- Associate Degrees prepare students to be physical therapy assistants, or can be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Applicants must have earned a high school diploma or equivalent to be accepted for enrollment. The programs are most often provided by community colleges, and take about 2 years for completion. An internship or other form of clinical training is usually a portion of the program.
- Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapist education to ready candidates to advance to the doctoral level. While they are not a requirement to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an integral first step to becoming a PT. Similar to the majority of bachelor's degrees, they normally take 4 years to complete and commonly include an internship program of at least 500 hours.
- Doctorate Degrees are mandated in order to become a licensed practicing 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 finish, making the overall commitment 7 years in most cases. Practical or clinical training is an intregal element along with the considerable lab and classroom instruction. Consequently the completion of an internship is required, 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 eliminated and is no longer attainable in the United States. Some licensed physical therapists holding a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the current licensing mandate for a doctorate was implemented.
Physical Therapist Online Programs
Although not as common as the on-campus alternatives, there are some accredited online physical therapist degrees available, even more at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on nature of the training, internships and clinical lab work are integrated with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live near the school campus or in proximity of an available internship. Fortunately, the online portion of the program can be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Catalina Foothills AZ residence. Online programs are not only partially more accessible, but in many instances more economical. Tuition can be significantly less than similar on campus options, and expenses for commuting are minimized. And many of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These advantages may make the online option the right choice for those students that are motivated enough to attend classes at home.
Topics to Ask Physical Therapist Schools
By now you probably have come to decision concerning a few of your preliminary queries, including 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 because there are numerous PT colleges within the Catalina Foothills AZ area and throughout Arizona, you'll have to look into additional qualifications as well so as to further narrow your list of college choices. Also, you need to make sure that you pick the college that is best for you. That's the reason we have compiled a list of important questions that you must ask the physical therapist programs you are considering. Ask all of the competing colleges these questions before making an ultimate decision.
Is the Physical Therapist Program Accredited? Find out if the schools you are reviewing have earned accreditation from a national or a regional organization. As earlier mentioned, if you are pursuing a doctoral degree the program must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). If you select an online program, it can also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapy school and program 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. Besides guaranteeing that you receive an excellent education, accreditation might be mandated for state licensing as well as for securing student loans or financial aid.
What is the School's Reputation? In addition to accreditation, it's imperative that the college and program you choose have exceptional reputations within the physical therapist profession. There are multiple ways you can look into a PT college's reputation, beginning with requesting references from employers that they place their graduates with. You can also check online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. Get in touch with some Catalina Foothills AZ physical therapy clinics or other medical care facilities that you might have an interest in working for and ask if they can offer any insight about your school options. It may also be a good idea to check with the Arizona Attorney General and school licensing authority to find out if any complaints have been filed against the schools.
What is the Program's Job Placement Percentage? There are a couple of significant statistics that you should know about all of the physical therapist colleges you are reviewing. First is their graduation rate. A lower rate might mean that students left due to displeasure with the program, the instructors, or both. After 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 medical care field is good or perhaps exceptional. It also verifies that the program has a large network of contacts to assist students gain internships or jobs after graduation.
Does the School Support Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the college you select provides both exceptional training and a curriculum that satisfies the licensing criteria for Arizona or the state where you will be working. In every state a passing score is needed on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) as well as a degree from an accredited physical therapist program. While licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PT and PTA graduates, many states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be performed and passing scores on additional tests.
Are Internships Provided? Inquire if the physical therapy schools you are reviewing have associations with Catalina Foothills AZ hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships an excellent manner to get hands on experience in a clinical environment, they are additionally a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they may help students and graduates establish professional relationships in the Catalina Foothills medical community and assist with obtaining employment once licensed.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of student that prefers to sit way in the rear of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will probably prefer a smaller class size. Small classes permit more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapy schools you are looking at what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. 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 a few of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the physical therapy program as well.
Where is the School Located? For many students, the physical therapist college they select will have to be within travelling distance of their Catalina Foothills AZ home. Students who have decided 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 concern. Something to consider is that if you decide to enroll in a program that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges usually charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges typically charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? The majority of DPT schools supply some type of financial assistance to their prospective students. Find out if the schools you are considering have a financial aid department and see what type of help is obtainable. At a minimum they should help in obtaining a student loan or any scholarships you might be eligible for. Some physical therapy schools offer scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before eliminating a program because the tuition is beyond your budget, ask what financial assistance may be available.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must confirm that the physical therapist school you finally choose can provide the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you opt to continue working while you attend classes. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Catalina Foothills AZ area, confirm that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, verify if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would have to enroll in. Also, learn what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Catalina Foothills Physical Therapist School
Picking the ideal physical therapy program is an important first decision you must make to start a fulfilling career in the healthcare profession. As we have addressed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and school you select should both have exceptional reputations and accreditation. However there are additional relevant questions that you need to ask concerning your school of choice also. As you start your search for a physical therapist college bear in mind that many factors will lead you to your ultimate decision. You might decide to visit each of the campuses to view their facilities and talk to active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this program help me accomplish my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By following our list of supplemental questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the field so you can make the best choice. And with the necessary education and training, you can fulfill your dream of becoming a licensed physical therapist in Catalina Foothills Arizona.