How to Enroll In the Right Physical Therapy College Near Cave Creek Arizona
Receiving a physical therapy degree near Cave Creek AZ is a critical first step to starting a rewarding career in the healthcare field. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been disabled as a result of illness or injury gain back mobility and function. But before they may legally practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they must receive the proper training and education. A PT must also be licensed in every state, many mandating that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So before enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's essential to investigate the ones you are looking at to ensure they will deliver a quality education and comply with 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 residence or it has the lowest tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that must be considered along with cost and location. But before we talk about what those qualifications are and the questions you should be asking, we'll cover what a physical therapist does and what the educational options are.
What Do Physical Therapists Do?
Physical therapists practice in a variety of locations, such as Cave Creek 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 diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As earlier mentioned, physical therapists help patients that are experiencing a lack of mobility and in many cases pain caused by illness or injury. After patient diagnosis, they create a program of treatment to deal with the mobility issues and reduce 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:
- Osteoporosis and Arthritis
- Car or motor cycle accidents
- Head injuries
- Cardiac arrest
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Fire injuries
- Hip Replacement
- Cerebral Palsy
Licensed physical therapists practice in close association with other Cave Creek AZ medical professionals, including chiropractors, physicians, dentists and nurses. They can also supervise several physical therapy assistants who work for them in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. Something to bear in mind for anyone thinking about getting into the physical therapy profession, it is quite 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 Therapy Degrees Offered
There are three physical therapist degrees available for individuals to enroll in at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these alternatives, the single degree that is offered that qualifies the graduate to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees focus on either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or preparing them to advance to the doctoral level. Following are short summaries of degrees that are available to prospective students in the Cave Creek AZ area:
- Associate Degrees train students to be physical therapy assistants, or can be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Applicants must have obtained a high school diploma or equivalent to qualify for enrollment. The programs are typically offered by community colleges, and take about 2 years to complete. An internship or other form of clinical training is normally part of the curriculum.
- Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapy training to prepare candidates to advance to the doctoral level. Although they are not a requirement to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an integral first step to becoming a PT. As with the majority of bachelor's degrees, they typically take four years to finish and commonly include an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
- Doctorate Degrees are a requirement 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). After earning the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes three years to finish, making the overall investment of time 7 years in the majority of cases. Clinical or practical training is an important component in addition to the extensive lab and classroom instruction. Therefor the completion of an internship is required, not solely for graduation but in some 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 USA. A number of practicing physical therapists holding a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the present licensing requirement for a doctorate was implemented.
Physical Therapist Colleges Online
Although not as common as the more traditional options, there are a number of accredited online physical therapy degrees offered, even more at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on nature of the training, internships and clinical lab work are incorporated with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live near the school campus or nearby an available internship. However, the online part of the curriculum may be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Cave Creek AZ home. Online programs are not only to some extent more accessible, but in a number of cases more affordable. Tuition may be significantly lower than similar on campus alternatives, and expenses for commuting are minimized. And many of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These benefits may make the online alternative the right choice for those students that are disciplined enough to learn at home.
Topics to Ask Physical Therapist Programs
By now you probably have come to decision regarding a few of your preliminary queries, such as the type of physical therapist degree you intend to obtain, where you want to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to invest in your education. But considering there are numerous PT schools within the Cave Creek AZ area and throughout Arizona, you'll have to research additional qualifications as well so as to further narrow your list of college options. Moreover, you need to make certain that you enroll in the college that is right for you. That's the reason we have compiled a list of critical questions that you must ask the physical therapy programs you are considering. Ask each of the competing colleges these questions prior to making an ultimate selection.
Is the Physical Therapy School Accredited? Find out if the colleges you are reviewing have received accreditation from a regional or a national agency. As previously 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 college, it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's important that both the physical therapy school and program you choose are accredited, not just the school. Also, make sure that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Besides ensuring that you obtain a quality education, accreditation may be mandated for state licensing and even for securing student loans or financial assistance.
What is the Program's Reputation? In addition to accreditation, it's imperative that the school and program you pick have outstanding reputations within the physical therapy profession. There are a number of ways you can investigate a PT program's reputation, starting with requesting references from employers that they refer their students to. You may also search for online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. Call a few Cave Creek AZ physical therapist centers or other healthcare facilities that you might be interested in working for and ask if they can offer any insight about your school selections. It may also be prudent to contact the Arizona Attorney General and school licensing authority to find out if any complaints have been filed against the schools.
What is the School's Job Placement Percentage? There are a couple of important statistics that you should find out about each of the physical therapy schools you are considering. One is their graduation rate. A lower rate might indicate that students left because of dissatisfaction with the program, the teachers, or both. After the students have graduated, how many of them are being hired with the support of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Cave Creek AZ area? If a college has a higher job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the health care field is good or even excellent. It also verifies that the school has a large network of contacts to help students gain internships or employment upon graduation.
Does the Program Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the college you enroll in furnishes both excellent training and a course of study that supports the licensing criteria for Arizona or the state where you will be working. In each state a passing score is needed on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) in addition to a degree from an accredited physical therapist program. Although licensing requirements differ state by state for PT and PTA graduates, many states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be completed and passing scores on supplemental tests.
Are Internship Programs Sponsored? Inquire if the physical therapist programs you are evaluating have relationships with Cave Creek AZ hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific means to receive practical training in a clinical setting, they are also a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they can help graduates and students form professional connections in the Cave Creek 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 back of class or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a smaller class size. Smaller classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapist schools you are reviewing what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you an opportunity to converse with some of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapist program also.
Where is the Program Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapy school they decide on will need to be within driving distance of their Cave Creek AZ residence. Students who have chosen to attend online classes naturally will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. One thing to bear in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a school that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges generally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges usually charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? The majority of DPT schools offer some form of financial aid to their potential students. Find out if the schools you are looking at have a financial aid department and see what type of assistance is offered. At a minimum they should help in acquiring a student loan or any grants you may be eligible for. Some physical therapy colleges provide scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before eliminating a school because the tuition is too expensive, ask what financial aid may be available.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must verify that the physical therapy program you finally select can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly essential if you opt to continue working while attending classes. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Cave Creek AZ area, make sure 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, ask what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss as a result of illness, work or family obligations.
Enroll in the Best Cave Creek Physical Therapist School
Picking the right physical therapist program is an important initial decision you need to make to launch a fulfilling career in the healthcare profession. As we have addressed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and college you enroll in should both have exceptional reputations and be accredited. However there are other important questions that you need to ask regarding your school of choice as well. As you commence your search for a physical therapist school keep in mind that a number of variables will lead you toward your ultimate decision. You may want to visit different colleges to view their facilities and talk to current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this college help me achieve my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By following our list of additional questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the options so you can make the right choice. And with the necessary training and education, you can achieve your dream of becoming a licensed physical therapist in Cave Creek Arizona.