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How to Pick the Right Physical Therapy Degree Program Near Catalina Arizona

Catalina Arizona physical therapist working with woman using balance ballObtaining a physical therapy degree near Catalina AZ is an essential first step to starting a fulfilling career in the health care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been incapacitated as a result of illness or injury regain function and mobility. But before they may legally practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they need to obtain the appropriate education and training. A PT must additionally be licensed in all states, a large number mandating that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So before choosing a physical therapy school, it's essential to evaluate those you are thinking about to make sure they will provide a quality 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 home or it has cheapest tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that need to be considered along with location and cost. But before we cover what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, we'll cover what a physical therapist does and the options for education.

What is a Physical Therapist?

Catalina Arizona physical therapist assisting woman to walk

Physical therapists work in varying locations, including Catalina 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 the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As earlier mentioned, physical therapists help people that are struggling with a lack of mobility and frequently pain due to injury or illness. After diagnosing a patient, they develop a program of treatment to address the mobility problems and reduce or eliminate any pain. They also strive to prevent any advancement of the disability. Though the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Strokes
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Fire injuries
  • Hip Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Cerebral Palsy

Licensed physical therapists work in close partnerships with other Catalina AZ medical specialists, including doctors, chiropractors, dentists and nurses. They can also oversee one or more physical therapy assistants who work under them in diagnosing and treating their patients. One thing to take note of for anyone thinking about entering the physical therapy profession, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift patients and heavy equipment, and kneel, crouch and stand for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degrees

Catalina Arizona physical therapist working with man in pool

There are three physical therapist degree options available for students to pursue at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these options, the single degree that is offered 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 preparing them to advance to the doctoral level. Below are brief explanations of degree levels that are offered to prospective students in the Catalina AZ area:

  • Associate Degrees train students to be physical therapy assistants, or can be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Candidates must have earned a high school diploma or equivalent to qualify for enrollment. The programs are usually offered by community or junior colleges, and take about 2 years to complete. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is normally a component of the course of study.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapy training to prep candidates to progress to the doctoral level. While they are not required to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an essential first step to practicing as a PT. As with most bachelor's degrees, they generally take 4 years to complete and often include an internship program of at least 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). In addition to the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes 3 years to complete, making the total investment of time 7 years in the majority of cases. Clinical or practical training is an intregal component in addition to the substantial lab and classroom instruction. Therefor the fulfillment of an internship is required, not only for graduation but in a number of states for licensing as well.

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 available in the USA. A number of practicing physical therapists holding a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the present licensing mandate for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapy Online Programs

Catalina Arizona woman taking physical therapy classes onlineAlthough not as common as the on campus alternatives, there are some accredited online physical therapy programs available, more so at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on structure of the training, internships and clinical lab work are incorporated with the online classes. This requires that the student live close to the college campus or nearby an available internship. However, the online segment of the curriculum can be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Catalina AZ residence. Online programs are not only to some extent more accessible, but in many cases more economical. Tuition may be significantly lower than comparable on campus options, and expenses for commuting are reduced. And many of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These advantages can make the online option the ideal choice for those students that are disciplined enough to attend classes at home.

Topics to Ask Physical Therapy Schools

At this point you undoubtedly have made a decision concerning several of your initial queries, such as the kind of physical therapy degree you would like to attain, where you want to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to invest in your education. But since there are so many PT schools within the Catalina AZ area and throughout Arizona, you'll need to research other qualifications as well in order to further reduce your list of school choices. Also, you need to be sure that you pick the college that is ideal for you. That's the reason we have put together a list of important questions that you need to ask the physical therapy schools you are thinking about. Ask each of the competing schools these questions prior to making an ultimate decision.

Is the Physical Therapist School Accredited?  Find out if the colleges you are reviewing have earned accreditation from a national or a regional agency. As previously 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 select an online program, it may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's essential that both the physical therapist program and school you choose are accredited, not just the school. Additionally, check that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Besides guaranteeing that you obtain an excellent education, accreditation may be mandated for state licensing and even for securing student loans or financial aid.

What is the College's Ranking? Along with accreditation, it's important that the college and program you choose have outstanding reputations within the physical therapist profession. There are multiple ways you can investigate a PT college's reputation, beginning with requesting 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 as well. Get in touch with several Catalina AZ physical therapy clinics or other health care facilities that you may have an interest in working for and ask if they can offer any insight about your school options. It might also be prudent to check with the Arizona Attorney General and school licensing authority to find out if any complaints have been filed against the colleges.

What is the Program's Job Placement Percentage? There are a couple of significant statistics that you need to know about all of the physical therapist programs you are looking at. One is their graduation rate. A low rate might indicate that students left due to dissatisfaction with the program, the teachers, or both. After 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 AZ area? If a program has a high job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the healthcare field is good or perhaps exceptional. It also confirms that the school has a broad network of contacts to assist students obtain internships or jobs upon graduation.

Does the Program Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the program you enroll in provides both superior training and a course of study that satisfies 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) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapy college. While licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PTA and PT graduates, a number of states require a minimum number of clinical hours be completed as well as passing scores on additional exams.

Are Internship Programs Offered? Find out if the physical therapist colleges you are reviewing have relationships with Catalina AZ clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a great manner to get practical experience in a clinical environment, they are additionally a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they may help graduates and students establish professional connections in the Catalina healthcare community and help with obtaining employment after licensing.

What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the sort of student that prefers to sit far in the back of class or hide in the crowd, you will likely prefer a smaller class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapist schools you are researching what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate 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 also.

Where is the School Located? For a number of students, the physical therapy college they choose will have to be within driving distance of their Catalina AZ residence. Individuals who have opted to attend classes online obviously will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. One thing to consider is that if you choose to enroll in a program that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges typically charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges normally charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.

Is Financial Assistance Offered? Most DPT schools offer some form of financial assistance to their potential students. Ask if the schools you are examining have a financial assistance department and see what type of help is offered. At a minimum they should help in acquiring a student loan or any scholarships you might be eligible for. Some physical therapist colleges offer scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before you eliminate a school because the tuition is beyond your budget, learn what financial aid might be available.

Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to confirm that the physical therapy program you ultimately pick can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you opt to continue working while you attend classes. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Catalina AZ area, check 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 carry. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Catalina Physical Therapist Degrees

Enroll in the Right Catalina Physical Therapist School

Selecting the best physical therapy school is an important first decision you must make to start a gratifying career in the healthcare profession. As we have discussed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and school you choose should both have excellent reputations and be accredited. However there are additional critical questions that you should ask pertaining to your college of choice also. As you commence your search for a physical therapist college keep in mind that a number of factors will guide you to your ultimate decision. You may decide to visit each of the colleges to see their facilities and speak 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 supplemental questions, you will be able to narrow down the options so you can make the ideal selection. And with the proper education and training, you can accomplish your dream of becoming a licensed physical therapist in Catalina Arizona.


 

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