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How to Pick the Right Physical Therapy School Near Cave Creek Arizona

Cave Creek Arizona physical therapist working with woman using balance ballEarning a physical therapy degree near Cave Creek AZ is an essential first step to launching a rewarding career in the healthcare field. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been debilitated as a result of injury or illness regain mobility and function. But before they can practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they need to receive the appropriate training and education. A PT must additionally become licensed in every state, many mandating that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So prior to selecting a physical therapy school, it's important to investigate those you are thinking about to ensure they will provide a superior education and satisfy your state's licensing standards. What you do not want to do is select a school simply because it happens to be the nearest to your residence or it has the lowest tuition. There are other significant qualifications that must be considered besides location and cost. But before we cover 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 is a Physical Therapist's Job Description?

Cave Creek Arizona physical therapist assisting female patient to walk

Physical therapists work in diverse locations, including Cave Creek AZ hospitals, health clinics, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and health clubs. What the facilities all share in common is that they have the equipment for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As earlier stated, physical therapists help patients that are struggling with a lack of mobility and in many cases pain due to illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they create a program of treatment to deal with the mobility issues and lessen or eradicate any pain. They also try to prevent any advancement of the disability. Though the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are abundant, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Strokes
  • Heart attacks
  • Sports injuries
  • Fire injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists practice in close partnerships with other Cave Creek AZ medical professionals, including chiropractors, physicians, registered nurses and dentists. They can also supervise several physical therapy assistants who work for them assisting with the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. Something to keep in mind for anyone thinking about going into the physical therapy profession, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and kneel, crouch and stand for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapist Degrees Available

Cave Creek Arizona physical therapist working with man in pool

There are 3 physical therapist degree options offered for individuals to enroll in at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these options, the only degree that is attainable that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees emphasize either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or preparing them to advance to the doctoral level. Below are brief explanations 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 used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Applicants must have earned a high school diploma or equivalent to be accepted for enrollment. The programs are most often provided by junior or community colleges, and take about 2 years for completion. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is usually part of the program.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapist education to prep candidates to progress to the doctoral level. Although they are not a requirement to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an essential first step to practicing as a PT. Similar to most bachelor's degrees, they typically require 4 years to complete and often include an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are mandated 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 overall investment of time seven years in most cases. Clinical or practical training is an intregal element in addition to the considerable classroom and lab instruction. Consequently the completion of an internship is mandated, not just for graduation but in some states for licensing as well.

The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) has replaced the Master's of Physical Therapy (MPT), which has been eliminated and is no longer offered in the USA. Some practicing physical therapists holding a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the current licensing requirement for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapy Programs Online

Cave Creek Arizona female student taking physical therapy classes onlineAlthough not as common as the on-campus options, there are many accredited online physical therapist degrees offered, more so at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on structure of the training, internships and clinical lab work are integrated with the online classes. This requires that the student live near the college campus or nearby a sponsored internship. However, the online segment of the curriculum can be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Cave Creek AZ home. Online schools are not only partially more accessible, but in many cases more affordable. Tuition may be somewhat lower than comparable on-campus options, and costs for commuting are reduced. And many of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These benefits can make the online option the best choice for those students that are dedicated enough to attend classes at home.

Topics to Ask Physical Therapy Schools

At this point you undoubtedly have come to decision concerning some of your preliminary queries, like the kind of physical therapist degree you would like to obtain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much you can afford to spend for your education. But because there are so many PT schools within the Cave Creek AZ area and throughout Arizona, you'll have to look into additional qualifications also so as to further reduce your list of college options. Furthermore, you want to make certain that you enroll in the program that is ideal for you. That's why we have compiled a list of essential questions that you must ask the physical therapy schools you are considering. Ask each of the potential colleges these questions before making an ultimate decision.

Is the Physical Therapist College Accredited?  Find out if the schools you are looking at have received accreditation from a national or a regional agency. As previously stated, if you are pursuing a doctorate the program must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). If you enroll in an online college, it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapist program and school you select are accredited, not just the school. Also, verify that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. In addition to guaranteeing that you obtain an excellent education, accreditation may be mandated for state licensing as well as for getting student loans or financial assistance.

What is the School's Standing? In addition to accreditation, it's essential that the school and program you select have excellent reputations within the physical therapist community. There are several ways you can look into a PT school's reputation, starting with requesting references from employers that they refer their students to. You may also check online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. Contact a few Cave Creek AZ physical therapist clinics or other health care facilities that you might have an interest in working for and ask if they can provide any insight about your college selections. It might also be a good idea 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 College's Job Placement Rate? There are a two significant statistics that you should find out about each of the physical therapist schools you are considering. One is their graduation rate. A low rate may mean that students dropped out due to dissatisfaction with the program, the teachers, or both. After the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being hired with the assistance of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Cave Creek AZ area? If a college has a higher job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the medical care field is good or even outstanding. It also confirms that the program has a wide network of contacts to help students get internships or jobs upon graduation.

Does the School Support Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the school you select provides both superior training and a curriculum that supports the licensing criteria for Arizona or the state where you will be working. In every state a passing score is needed on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapy school. While licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PTA and PT graduates, many states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be performed and passing scores on supplemental exams.

Are Internship Programs Provided? Ask if the physical therapist schools you are evaluating have partnerships with Cave Creek AZ hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships an excellent means to receive hands on training in a clinical environment, they are also a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they may help students and graduates develop professional relationships in the Cave Creek healthcare community and help with job placement after licensing.

What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of student that likes to sit far in the rear of class or get lost in the crowd, you will probably prefer a smaller class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapy colleges you are looking at what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to sit in on one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you an opportunity to speak with several of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the physical therapist program as well.

Where is the College Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapist school they decide on will have to be within travelling distance of their Cave Creek AZ home. Those who have chosen to attend online classes naturally will not have to worry 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 choose 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 generally 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 Assistance Offered? Most DPT schools offer some form of financial aid to their prospective students. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have a financial aid office and see what type of aid is offered. At a minimum they should help in securing a student loan or any scholarships you might qualify for. Some physical therapist colleges provide scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before eliminating a program because the tuition is beyond your budget, learn what financial aid may be available.

Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must verify that the physical therapy school you ultimately select can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you opt to continue working while you attend school. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Cave Creek AZ area, check that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, check if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would need to carry. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Cave Creek Online Physical Therapy Courses

Enroll in the Best Cave Creek Physical Therapy School

Choosing the ideal physical therapy program is an important initial decision you have to make to launch a fulfilling career in the healthcare profession. As we have covered in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and college you choose should both have excellent reputations and be accredited. However there are other important questions that you should ask regarding your college of choice also. As you commence your search for a physical therapy school bear in mind that numerous factors will lead you to your final decision. You may want to visit each of the campuses to see their facilities and talk to active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this program help me accomplish my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By following our list of additional questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the field so you can make the right selection. And with the necessary training and education, you can accomplish your dream to become a licensed physical therapist in Cave Creek Arizona.


 

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