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How to Select the Right Physical Therapist Program Near Catalina Arizona

Catalina Arizona physical therapist working with female patient using exercise ballEarning a physical therapy degree near Catalina AZ is an important first step to starting a fulfilling career in the medical care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been incapacitated due to injury or illness gain back mobility and function. But before they can practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they need to acquire the necessary education and training. A PT must also be licensed in every state, many requiring that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So before selecting a physical therapy school, it's necessary to evaluate the ones you are thinking about to make sure they will furnish a superior education and satisfy your state's licensing criteria. What you should not do is enroll in a college simply because it happens to be the nearest to your residence or it has the lowest tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that must be considered besides location and cost. But before we discuss what those qualifications are and the questions you should be asking, we'll cover what a physical therapist does and the options for education.

What Do Physical Therapists Do?

Catalina Arizona physical therapist helping female patient to walk

Physical therapists practice in a variety of locations, including Catalina AZ private practices, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and health clubs. What the facilities all have in common is that they have the equipment for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As previously touched on, physical therapists help individuals that are suffering from a lack of mobility and frequently pain due to illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they design a course of treatment to deal with the mobility problems and lessen or eradicate any pain. They also strive to prevent any advancement of the disability. While the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are abundant, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Car or motor cycle accidents
  • Head injuries
  • Heart attacks
  • Sports injuries
  • Fire injuries
  • Hip Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Cerebral Palsy

Licensed physical therapists practice in close partnerships with other Catalina AZ health specialists, including chiropractors, physicians, registered nurses and dentists. They may also oversee one or more physical therapy assistants who work for them assisting with diagnosing and treating their patients. Something to take note of for anyone thinking about going into the physical therapy profession, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists routinely lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and stand, crouch and kneel for long periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapist Degrees

Catalina Arizona DPT working with man in pool

There are 3 physical therapy degrees available for individuals to pursue at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these options, the only degree that is offered that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees target either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or readying them to advance to the doctoral level. Following are short descriptions of degree levels that are available to prospective students in the Catalina AZ area:

  • Associate Degrees train students to become physical therapy assistants, or may be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Candidates must have a high school diploma or equivalent to be accepted for enrollment. The programs are typically provided by community or junior colleges, and take about two years for completion. An internship or other form of clinical training is typically part of the curriculum.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapist training to ready students to move up to the doctoral level. While they are not required to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an essential preliminary step to practicing as a PT. As with the majority of bachelor's degrees, they normally take four years to complete and usually include an internship program of at least 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are required if you want to become a licensed practicing physical therapist. The degree program must also be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). After earning the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes three years to complete, making the overall investment of time 7 years in most cases. Clinical training is an important element in addition to the substantial classroom and lab instruction. Consequently the fulfillment of an internship is required, not just 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 practicing physical therapists holding a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the existing licensing requirement for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapist Degrees Online

Catalina Arizona woman taking physical therapy courses onlineAlthough not as common as the more traditional options, there are some accredited online physical therapist degrees available, more so at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on structure of the training, clinical lab work and internships are integrated with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live near the college campus or in proximity of an available internship. Fortunately, the online portion of the curriculum may be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Catalina AZ home. Online programs are not only partially more accessible, but in a number of cases more affordable. Tuition might be somewhat lower than comparable on campus options, and expenses for commuting are reduced. And a number of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These benefits may make the online alternative the right choice for those students that are disciplined enough to attend classes at home.

Topics to Ask Physical Therapy Schools

At this point you most likely have made a decision concerning some of your preliminary queries, including the type of physical therapy degree you intend to obtain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much you can afford to invest in your education. But since there are so many PT schools within the Catalina AZ area and across Arizona, you'll have to research additional qualifications also so as to further narrow your list of college choices. Also, you need to make sure that you choose the program that is right for you. That's the reason we have put together a list of important questions that you need to ask the physical therapist colleges you are considering. Ask each of the potential colleges these questions prior to making a final selection.

Is the Physical Therapy College Accredited?  Ask if the colleges you are reviewing have received 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 select an online school, it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's important that both the physical therapy program and school you enroll in are accredited, not just the school. Additionally, verify that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Along with ensuring that you receive an excellent education, accreditation might be mandated for state licensing and even for getting student loans or financial assistance.

What is the College's Ranking? In addition to accreditation, it's important that the college and program you pick have excellent reputations within the physical therapy community. There are several ways you can investigate a PT program's reputation, starting with requesting references from employers that they refer their students to. You can also search for online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. Get in touch with a few Catalina AZ physical therapy clinics or other healthcare facilities that you might be interested in working for and ask if they can provide any insight about your program 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 colleges.

What is the College's Job Placement Percentage? There are a couple of significant statistics that you should find out about each of the physical therapist schools you are reviewing. First is their graduation rate. A lower rate may indicate that students left due to displeasure 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 higher job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the health care field is good or even outstanding. It also affirms that the school has a wide network of contacts to assist students get internships or jobs after graduation.

Does the Program Support Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the college you select furnishes both exceptional training and a curriculum that satisfies the licensing criteria for Arizona or the state where you will be working. 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. Although 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 tests.

Are Internship Programs Offered? Inquire if the physical therapist schools you are evaluating have partnerships with Catalina AZ hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific way to receive practical experience in a clinical setting, they are additionally a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they may assist graduates and students establish professional connections in the Catalina healthcare community and assist with job placement after licensing.

How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of student that prefers to sit far in the rear of class or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a small class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapy schools you are considering what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you an opportunity to speak with a few of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the physical therapy program also.

Where is the Program Located? For many students, the physical therapy school they decide on will need to be within driving distance of their Catalina AZ home. Students who have chosen to attend classes online obviously will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. Something to keep in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a program that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges typically 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 Offered? The majority of DPT schools offer some form of financial support to their potential students. Inquire if the schools you are looking at have a financial assistance office and find out what type of assistance is offered. They at least should help in securing a student loan or any scholarships you may qualify for. Some physical therapy colleges provide scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before eliminating a program because the tuition is too expensive, learn what financial assistance might be available.

Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to confirm that the physical therapist school you ultimately choose can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly essential if you opt to continue working while attending classes. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Catalina AZ area, make sure that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would have to enroll in. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of illness, work or family emergencies.

Learn More About Catalina Physical Therapy Colleges

Enroll in the Right Catalina Physical Therapist School

Picking the ideal physical therapist program is an important initial decision you need to make to start a rewarding career in the health care field. As we have covered in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and college you decide on should both have exceptional reputations and accreditation. But there are additional relevant questions that you need to ask concerning your school of choice as well. As you start your search for a physical therapist school keep in mind that numerous variables will guide you toward your final decision. You may decide to visit each of the schools to see their facilities and talk to current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this college 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 options so you can make the right choice. And with the proper education and training, you can achieve your dream to become a licensed physical therapist in Catalina Arizona.


 

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