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

Catalina Arizona physical therapist working with female patient holding exercise ballEarning a physical therapy degree near Catalina AZ is a critical first step to launching a rewarding career in the health care field. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been disabled as a result of injury or illness regain function and mobility. But before they can practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they must get the proper training and education. A PT must also become licensed in all states, 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 looking at to ensure they will deliver a quality education and satisfy your state's licensing requirements. What you do not want to do is choose a college simply because it happens to be the closest to your home or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other significant qualifications that must be evaluated besides cost and location. But before we talk about what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, we'll address what a physical therapist does and the options for education.

What Do Physical Therapists Do?

Catalina Arizona DPT helping female patient 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 have in common is that they are equipped for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As previously stated, physical therapists help patients that are experiencing a lack of mobility and in many cases pain due to injury or illness. After diagnosing a patient, they develop a program of treatment to deal with the mobility problems and reduce or eradicate any pain. They also strive to stop any advancement of the disability. Though the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Osteoporosis and Arthritis
  • Car or motor cycle accidents
  • Head injuries
  • Heart attacks
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Fire injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Cerebral Palsy

Licensed physical therapists practice in close association with other Catalina AZ health specialists, including chiropractors, physicians, registered nurses and dentists. They can also manage several physical therapy assistants who work under them assisting with the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. One thing to take note of for anyone considering getting into the physical therapy field, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists often lift patients and heavy equipment, and kneel, crouch and stand for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapist Degrees Offered

Catalina Arizona DPT working with patient in pool

There are three physical therapy degrees offered for individuals to pursue at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these choices, the only degree that is attainable that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees focus on either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or readying them to progress to the doctoral level. Below are brief explanations of degrees that are available to prospective students in the Catalina AZ area:

  • Associate Degrees prepare students to be physical therapy assistants, or may be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Candidates must have a high school diploma or GED to qualify for enrollment. The programs are usually provided by community or junior colleges, and require two years for completion. An internship or other form of clinical training is normally part of the program.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapy training to prep 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 preliminary step to practicing as a PT. As with most bachelor's degrees, they typically take 4 years to complete and usually 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 three years to complete, making the overall investment of time 7 years in most cases. Clinical or practical training is an important element along with the extensive lab and classroom instruction. Therefor the fulfillment of an internship is mandated, not solely for graduation but in some 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 phased out and is no longer offered in the USA. 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 Schools

Catalina Arizona female student taking physical therapist training onlineAlthough not as prevalent as the on campus options, there are some accredited online physical therapy programs available, more so at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on nature of the training, internships and clinical lab work are combined with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live close to the school campus or nearby a sponsored internship. Fortunately, the online segment of the course of study may be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Catalina AZ residence. Online schools are not only partially more accessible, but in many instances more economical. Tuition can be somewhat lower than similar on-campus options, and costs for commuting are minimized. And many of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These benefits may make the online alternative the right choice for those students that are dedicated enough to attend classes at home.

What to Ask Physical Therapy Programs

At this point you most likely have come to decision regarding a few of your initial queries, such as the kind of physical therapy degree you want to obtain, where you want to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to spend for your education. But because there are so many PT schools within the Catalina AZ area and throughout Arizona, you'll have to explore other qualifications also so as to further reduce your list of school choices. Furthermore, you need to make sure that you pick the college that is best for you. That's the reason we have collected a list of important questions that you must ask the physical therapist programs you are considering. Ask each of the potential schools these questions before making an ultimate selection.

Is the Physical Therapy College Accredited?  Find out if the schools you are considering have received accreditation from a regional or a national organization. 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 enroll in an online program, it can also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's important that both the physical therapist school and program you enroll in are accredited, not simply the school. Also, make sure that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Along with guaranteeing that you obtain an excellent education, accreditation might be required for state licensing and even for securing student loans or financial assistance.

What is the College's Standing? Along with accreditation, it's important that the school and program you select have exceptional reputations within the physical therapy community. There are a number of ways you can research a PT program's reputation, starting with requesting references from employers that they refer their students to. You can also search for online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. Call a few Catalina AZ physical therapy centers or other health care facilities that you may be interested in working for and ask if they can provide any insight about your college selections. It might also be prudent to contact the Arizona Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been filed against the colleges.

What is the School's Job Placement Percentage? There are a two important statistics that you should find out about all of the physical therapy programs you are considering. First is their graduation rate. A lower rate might suggest that students dropped out due to dissatisfaction with the program, the instructors, 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 AZ area? If a college has a high job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the healthcare field is good or even outstanding. It also confirms that the college has a broad network of contacts to assist students get internships or employment upon graduation.

Does the Program Support Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the program you enroll in furnishes both excellent training and a curriculum that supports the licensing criteria for Arizona or the state where you will be practicing. In every state a passing score is needed on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) as well as a degree from an accredited physical therapy program. Although licensing requirements vary state by state for PTA and PT graduates, a number of states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be performed and passing scores on additional exams.

Are Internships Sponsored? Ask if the physical therapist colleges you are assessing have associations with Catalina AZ clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships an excellent means to receive hands on experience in a clinical setting, they are additionally a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they may help graduates and students establish professional relationships in the Catalina health care community and assist with job placement after licensing.

How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of student that likes to sit way in the back of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will probably want a small class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapist colleges you are considering what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you a chance to talk with several of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapist program as well.

Where is the Program Located? For a number of students, the physical therapy school they choose will need to be within travelling distance of their Catalina AZ residence. Students who have opted to attend classes online obviously will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of importance. Something to keep in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a college that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you may have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges normally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges typically charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.

Is Financial Help Offered? The majority of DPT colleges provide some type of financial assistance to their prospective students. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have a financial aid department and find out what type of assistance is available. At a minimum they should help in getting a student loan or any grants you might be eligible for. Some physical therapy colleges offer scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before you eliminate a college because the tuition is beyond your budget, learn what financial aid might be available.

Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to confirm that the physical therapy college you ultimately pick can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly essential if you opt to continue working while you attend school. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Catalina AZ area, confirm that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, find out if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would have to enroll in. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Learn More About Catalina Online Physical Therapy Programs

Choose the Best Catalina Physical Therapy School

Picking the right physical therapist school is a necessary initial decision you need to make to launch a fulfilling career in the healthcare field. As we have covered in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and college you choose should both have exceptional reputations and accreditation. But there are additional important questions that you should ask concerning your school of choice also. As you commence your search for a physical therapy program bear in mind that numerous variables will guide you to your final decision. You might decide to visit different campuses to view their facilities and speak to active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this college help me achieve my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By adhering to our list of supplemental questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the field so you can make the appropriate selection. And with the proper education and training, you can accomplish your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in Catalina Arizona.


 

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