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How to Pick the Right Physical Therapist Training Program Near Catalina Arizona

Catalina Arizona physical therapist working with female patient holding exercise ballEarning a physical therapy degree near Catalina AZ is an essential first step to beginning a fulfilling career in the health care field. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been disabled due to injury or illness regain mobility and function. But before they can practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they need to acquire the appropriate education and training. A PT must additionally be licensed in every state, many requiring that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So before choosing a physical therapy school, it's important to investigate those you are considering to make certain they will deliver a superior education and satisfy your state's licensing requirements. What you should not do is enroll in a college just because it happens to be the nearest to your home or it has cheapest tuition. There are other important qualifications that must be evaluated along with cost and location. But before we cover 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?

Catalina Arizona DPT helping woman to walk

Physical therapists practice in a variety of settings, such as Catalina AZ private practices, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and sports facilities. What the facilities all have in common is that they have the equipment for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As previously mentioned, physical therapists help patients that are experiencing a lack of mobility and frequently pain due to illness or injury. After patient diagnosis, they design a program of treatment to deal with the mobility issues and lessen or eliminate any pain. They also strive to prevent any advancement of the disability. Though the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are abundant, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Car or motor cycle accidents
  • Strokes
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Burn injuries
  • Hip Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists work in close partnerships with other Catalina AZ medical professionals, including chiropractors, physicians, dentists and nurses. They may also manage several physical therapy assistants who work under them assisting with the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. One thing to bear in mind for anyone considering going into the physical therapy field, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists often lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and kneel, crouch and stand for long periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degrees Offered

Catalina Arizona physical therapist working with patient in pool

There are three physical therapy degrees offered for individuals to pursue at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these alternatives, the single degree that is available 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 progress to the doctoral level. Following are short summaries 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 the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Applicants must have earned a high school diploma or GED to qualify for enrollment. The programs are most often offered by community or junior colleges, and take about 2 years for completion. An internship or other form of clinical training is normally a component of the course of study.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapy education to prep candidates to move up to the doctoral level. While they are not a requirement to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an integral initial step to practicing as a PT. Similar to the majority of bachelor's degrees, they generally require 4 years to finish and commonly 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 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 finish, making the total commitment seven years in the majority of cases. Clinical or practical training is an intregal element in addition to the considerable lab and classroom instruction. Therefor the fulfillment of an internship is mandated, not just for graduation but in a number of states for licensing as well.

The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) has replaced the Master's of Physical Therapy (MPT), which has been phased out and is no longer offered in the USA. A number of licensed physical therapists holding a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the present licensing mandate for a doctorate was instituted.

Physical Therapy Schools Online

Catalina Arizona female student taking physical therapy courses onlineWhile not as common as the on-campus options, there are a number of accredited online physical therapist 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 near the college campus or in proximity of an available internship. Fortunately, the online part of the curriculum can 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 cases more economical. Tuition can be significantly less than comparable on-campus options, and expenditures 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 ideal choice for those students that are dedicated enough to learn at home.

What to Ask Physical Therapy Programs

At this point you most likely have made a decision regarding a few of your initial queries, including the type of physical therapy degree you want to earn, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to invest in your education. But since there are numerous PT colleges within the Catalina AZ area and throughout Arizona, you'll have to research other qualifications as well so as to further reduce your list of school choices. Furthermore, you want to make certain that you enroll in the program that is best for you. That's the reason we have collected a list of important questions that you need to ask the physical therapist schools you are reviewing. Ask all of the competing colleges these questions before making an ultimate selection.

Is the Physical Therapy College Accredited?  Find out if the colleges you are reviewing have earned accreditation from a national or a regional agency. 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 choose an online college, 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. Additionally, check that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Along with ensuring that you obtain a quality education, accreditation may be mandated for state licensing and even for getting student loans or financial assistance.

What is the School's Ranking? In addition to accreditation, it's important that the college and program you choose have outstanding reputations within the physical therapist profession. There are several ways you can research a PT college's reputation, starting with requesting references from employers that they place their graduates with. You may also check online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. Get in touch with a few Catalina AZ physical therapist centers or other healthcare facilities that you may have an interest in working for and ask if they can provide any recommendations about your school selections. It may also be prudent to contact the Arizona Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been submitted against the schools.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? There are a two useful statistics that you need to know about all of the physical therapy programs you are looking at. First 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, how many of them are being placed in jobs 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 suggests that its reputation within the health care community is good or even excellent. It also affirms that the college has a broad network of contacts to help students get internships or employment upon graduation.

Does the College Support Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the school you choose furnishes both exceptional training and a curriculum that supports the licensing requirements for Arizona or the state where you will be working. In every state a passing score is required on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) in addition to a degree from an accredited physical therapist program. Although licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PT and PTA graduates, a number of states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be performed as well as passing scores on supplemental tests.

Are Internships Provided? Inquire if the physical therapy colleges you are reviewing have partnerships with Catalina AZ clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific means to obtain hands on experience in a clinical environment, they are additionally a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they can assist students and graduates establish professional relationships in the Catalina medical community and help with job placement once licensed.

What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of student that prefers to sit way in the rear of class or get lost in the crowd, you will probably prefer a smaller class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapy schools you are reviewing what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want 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 perspectives regarding the physical therapy program as well.

Where is the College Located? For a number of students, the physical therapist school they decide on will need to be within travelling distance of their Catalina AZ residence. Those who have opted to attend classes online naturally will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. Something to keep in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a program that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges typically charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges usually charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Aid Provided? Most DPT colleges supply some type of financial support to their potential students. Inquire if the schools you are considering have a financial aid office and find out what type of assistance is offered. They at least should help in obtaining a student loan or any scholarships you might be eligible for. Some physical therapy colleges provide scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before eliminating a school because the tuition is too expensive, learn what financial assistance might be available.

Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to verify that the physical therapist school you ultimately choose can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you decide to continue working while you attend school. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Catalina AZ area, verify 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 need to enroll in. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss as a result of work, illness or family obligations.

Find Out More About Catalina Online Physical Therapist Training

Choose the Right Catalina Physical Therapy School

Picking the best physical therapy college is a necessary initial decision you have 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 school you select should both have excellent reputations and accreditation. However there are additional critical questions that you should ask concerning your school of choice also. As you begin your search for a physical therapist program keep in mind that a number of variables will lead you to your final decision. You might want to visit different schools to view their facilities and speak to active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this school help me accomplish my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By following our list of additional questions, you will be able to narrow down the options so you can make the best selection. And with the proper education and training, you can achieve your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in Catalina Arizona.


 

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