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How to Find the Right Physical Therapist Course Near Cave Creek Arizona

Cave Creek Arizona physical therapist working with female patient using balance ballEarning a physical therapy degree near Cave Creek AZ is an essential first step to launching a rewarding career in the medical care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been incapacitated due to injury or illness gain back function and mobility. But before they can practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they must obtain the appropriate education and training. A PT must additionally become licensed in all states, many requiring that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So prior to selecting a physical therapy school, it's necessary to investigate those you are considering to make certain they will provide a superior education and satisfy your state's licensing standards. What you should not do is select a college just because it happens to be the nearest to your residence or it has the lowest tuition. There are other significant qualifications that must be evaluated along with location and cost. But before we talk about what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, we'll cover what a physical therapist does and the options for education.

What Does a Physical Therapist Do?

Cave Creek Arizona physical therapist assisting woman to walk

Physical therapists practice in varying locations, including Cave Creek AZ hospitals, health clinics, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and sports facilities. 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 people that are struggling with a lack of mobility and frequently pain caused by illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they create a program of treatment to resolve the mobility issues and reduce or eradicate any pain. They also try to prevent any advancement of the disability. Though the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are abundant, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Strokes
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Fire injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists work in close association with other Cave Creek AZ health professionals, including chiropractors, physicians, registered nurses and dentists. They may also manage several physical therapy assistants who work under them assisting with diagnosing and treating their patients. Something to bear in mind for anyone considering getting into the physical therapy field, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists often lift patients and heavy equipment, and stand, crouch and kneel for extended periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degrees Offered

Cave Creek Arizona physical therapist working with man in pool

There are 3 physical therapy degrees available 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 readying them to progress to the doctoral level. Following are short explanations of degree levels that are offered to prospective students in the Cave Creek AZ area:

  • Associate Degrees train students to become physical therapy assistants, or can be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Candidates must have a high school diploma or equivalent to be accepted for enrollment. The programs are typically provided by junior or community colleges, and take about 2 years for completion. An internship or other form of clinical training is typically a component of the course of study.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapy training to prep students to advance to the doctoral level. Although they are not required to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an essential first step to practicing as a PT. As with the majority of bachelor's degrees, they typically take 4 years to finish and commonly incorporate an internship program of at least 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 total investment of time 7 years in most cases. Clinical or practical training is an intregal component along with the extensive lab and classroom instruction. Consequently the completion of an internship is mandated, not just for graduation but in several 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. Some licensed physical therapists holding a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the current licensing requirement for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapist Online Degrees

Cave Creek Arizona female student taking physical therapist classes onlineAlthough not as common as the on campus alternatives, there are some accredited online physical therapy programs offered, even more 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 college campus or in proximity of a sponsored internship. However, the online part of the curriculum may be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Cave Creek AZ residence. Online schools are not only to some extent more accessible, but in a number of instances more economical. Tuition might be significantly less than comparable on-campus options, and expenditures for commuting are minimized. And many of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These benefits can make the online option the ideal choice for those students that are disciplined enough to learn at home.

Topics to Ask Physical Therapy Schools

At this point you probably have come to decision regarding several of your preliminary queries, including the kind of physical therapist degree you would like to attain, where you want to attend classes, and how much you can afford to invest in your education. But because there are numerous PT colleges within the Cave Creek AZ area and across Arizona, you'll have to research additional qualifications also so as to further reduce your list of college choices. Moreover, you need to make certain that you select the college that is best for you. That's the reason we have compiled a list of critical questions that you need to ask the physical therapy colleges you are reviewing. Ask each of the competing colleges these questions before making an ultimate selection.

Is the Physical Therapy Program Accredited?  Find out if the programs you are reviewing have earned accreditation from a national or a regional organization. As earlier 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 choose an online program, it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's important that both the physical therapy school and program you enroll in are accredited, not simply the school. Also, verify that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. In addition to guaranteeing that you obtain a quality education, accreditation may be mandated for state licensing as well as for securing student loans or financial aid.

What is the College's Ranking? Along with accreditation, it's essential that the school and program you pick have excellent reputations within the physical therapist profession. There are a number of ways you can research a PT college's reputation, beginning with asking for references from employers that they refer their students to. You may also search for online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Get in touch with some Cave Creek AZ physical therapist centers or other medical care facilities that you may have an interest in working for and ask if they can give you any advice about your college options. It might also be prudent to check with the Arizona Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been filed against the schools.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? There are a two relevant statistics that you should find out about all of the physical therapist colleges you are looking at. One is their graduation rate. A lower rate may suggest that students left due to dissatisfaction with the program, the instructors, or both. After the students have graduated, how many of them are being hired with the assistance of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Cave Creek AZ area? If a program has a higher job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the medical care community is good or even outstanding. It also verifies that the college has a large network of contacts to assist students gain internships or employment after graduation.

Does the College Support Licensing Requirements? It's important that the program you enroll in furnishes both exceptional training and a course of study that supports the licensing requirements 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) as well as a degree from an accredited physical therapist school. While licensing requirements vary state by state for PTA and PT graduates, many states require a minimum number of clinical hours be performed as well as passing scores on additional exams.

Are Internships Provided? Ask if the physical therapist programs you are evaluating have associations with Cave Creek AZ clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a great manner to get practical experience in a clinical environment, they are also a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they may help graduates and students develop professional relationships in the Cave Creek medical community and help with obtaining employment once licensed.

What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the kind of student that prefers to sit far in the back of class or get lost in the crowd, you will probably want a smaller class size. Smaller classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapy schools you are reviewing what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. 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 talk with some of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapy program also.

Where is the Program Located? For a number of students, the physical therapist college they decide on will have to be within commuting distance of their Cave Creek AZ home. Those who have opted 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 consider is that if you decide to enroll in a college that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you may need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges usually charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges frequently charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.

Is Financial Aid Offered? Most DPT schools offer some type of financial support to their prospective students. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have a financial aid department and see what type of aid is offered. At a minimum they should help in obtaining a student loan or any grants you may be eligible for. Some physical therapy schools offer scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before you eliminate a college because the tuition is beyond your budget, ask what financial assistance may be available.

Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must confirm that the physical therapy program you ultimately pick can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you opt to continue working while attending school. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Cave Creek AZ area, verify that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, find out if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would have to carry. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss as a result of illness, work or family obligations.

Learn More About Cave Creek Physical Therapy Schools

Choose the Right Cave Creek Physical Therapist School

Selecting the right physical therapist program is an important initial decision you have to make to launch a gratifying career in the health care field. As we have discussed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and school you select should both have excellent reputations and be accredited. However there are other important questions that you should ask concerning your college of choice as well. As you begin your search for a physical therapist program bear in mind that a number of variables will guide you to your ultimate decision. You may decide to go to each of the campuses to see their facilities and speak to current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this program help me accomplish my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By adhering to our list of supplemental questions, you will be able to narrow down the options so you can make the ideal choice. And with the necessary training and education, you can fulfill your dream of becoming a practicing physical therapist in Cave Creek Arizona.


 

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