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How to Choose the Right Physical Therapist School Near Chandler Arizona

Chandler Arizona physical therapist working with woman using balance ballObtaining a physical therapy degree near Chandler AZ is an important first step to starting a rewarding career in the medical care field. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been disabled due to injury or illness gain back function and mobility. But before they can practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they must get the appropriate education and training. A PT must additionally be licensed in all states, many mandating that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So before enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's essential to investigate those you are looking at to make certain they will supply a quality education and comply with your state's licensing standards. What you do not want to do is select a college just because it happens to be the closest to your home or it has the lowest tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that must be considered in addition to location and cost. 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 the options for education.

What Do Physical Therapists Do?

Chandler Arizona physical therapist helping woman to walk

Physical therapists work in diverse locations, such as Chandler AZ private practices, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and health clubs. What the facilities all have in common is that they are equipped for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As earlier stated, physical therapists help people that are suffering from a lack of mobility and in many cases pain due to injury or illness. After patient diagnosis, they develop a course of treatment to resolve the mobility issues and lessen or eradicate any pain. They also try to prevent any progression of the disability. Although the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Osteoporosis and Arthritis
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Strokes
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Sports injuries
  • Burn injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Cerebral Palsy

Licensed physical therapists practice in close association with other Chandler AZ health specialists, including chiropractors, physicians, registered nurses and dentists. They may also supervise several physical therapy assistants who work for them assisting with diagnosing and treating their patients. Something to bear in mind for anyone considering entering the physical therapy field, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists routinely lift patients and heavy equipment, and kneel, crouch and stand for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapist Degrees Available

Chandler Arizona physical therapist working with patient in pool

There are 3 physical therapy degrees available for students to pursue at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these choices, the one degree that is offered 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 readying them to advance to the doctoral level. Following are brief descriptions of degrees that are offered to prospective students in the Chandler AZ area:

  • Associate Degrees train students to practice as physical therapy assistants, or may be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Candidates must have a high school diploma or GED to be accepted for enrollment. The degrees are most often provided by junior or community colleges, and require 2 years for completion. An internship or other form of clinical training is usually part of the course of study.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapy education to ready candidates to move up to the doctoral level. Although they are not required to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an integral initial step to practicing as a PT. Similar to most bachelor's degrees, they generally take four years to finish and often 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). In addition to the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes 3 years to complete, making the overall commitment seven years in most cases. Clinical training is an essential component in addition to the substantial lab and classroom instruction. Therefor the completion of an internship is mandated, not only for graduation but in a number of 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 phased out and is no longer offered in the United States. Some practicing physical therapists holding a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the existing licensing requirement for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapist Online Programs

Chandler Arizona woman taking physical therapy training onlineAlthough not as prevalent as the on campus options, there are a number of accredited online physical therapy programs available, more so at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on nature of the training, clinical lab work and internships are combined with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live close to the school campus or in proximity of a sponsored internship. However, the online portion of the course of study may be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Chandler AZ residence. Online programs are not only to some extent more accessible, but in many cases more economical. Tuition can be somewhat less than similar on-campus alternatives, and costs for commuting are reduced. And a number of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These benefits can make the online alternative the best choice for those students that are dedicated enough to attend classes at home.

Subjects to Ask Physical Therapy Programs

By now you most likely have come to decision regarding several of your preliminary questions, including the kind of physical therapy degree you want to attain, where you want to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to spend for your education. But since there are numerous PT colleges within the Chandler AZ area and throughout Arizona, you'll need to look into other qualifications as well so as to further narrow your list of school options. Also, you need to make sure that you choose the school that is ideal for you. That's the reason we have compiled a list of essential questions that you must ask the physical therapist schools you are reviewing. Ask each of the competing schools these questions prior to making an ultimate decision.

Is the Physical Therapist Program Accredited?  Ask if the schools you are looking at have received accreditation from a national or a regional agency. 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 select an online college, it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's essential that both the physical therapist program and school you choose are accredited, not just the school. Additionally, verify that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. In addition to guaranteeing that you obtain a quality education, accreditation might be required for state licensing and even for securing student loans or financial assistance.

What is the Program's Standing? Along with accreditation, it's important that the college and program you pick have outstanding reputations within the physical therapy profession. There are several ways you can investigate a PT college's reputation, beginning with asking for references from employers that they place their graduates with. You may also check online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. Call some Chandler AZ physical therapy clinics or other health care facilities that you may have an interest in working for and ask if they can offer any advice about your school options. It might also be prudent to check with 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 Percentage? There are a couple of relevant statistics that you should find out about all of the physical therapy programs you are considering. One is their graduation rate. A low rate may mean that students dropped out because of dissatisfaction with the program, the teachers, or both. Once the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being hired with the support of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Chandler AZ area? If a college has a higher job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the health care community is good or perhaps excellent. It also verifies that the school has a wide network of contacts to help students obtain internships or jobs upon graduation.

Does the School Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the school you select provides both excellent training and a course of study that supports the licensing requirements 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 program. Although licensing requirements differ 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 supplemental tests.

Are Internship Programs Sponsored? Ask if the physical therapist colleges you are reviewing have associations with Chandler AZ clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific manner to get practical experience in a clinical environment, they are additionally a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they can help students and graduates establish professional connections in the Chandler health care community and assist with job placement once licensed.

What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the type of person that likes to sit way in the rear of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will likely want a smaller class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapist schools you are looking at what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you a chance to talk with a few of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the physical therapist program as well.

Where is the School Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapist school they decide on will have to be within driving distance of their Chandler AZ residence. Those who have decided to attend classes online naturally 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 choose to enroll in a school that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges usually charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges generally charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.

Is Financial Help Offered? The majority of DPT colleges supply some form of financial support to their prospective students. Ask if the colleges you are examining have a financial aid department and see what kind of assistance is offered. They at least should help in acquiring a student loan or any grants you might be eligible for. A number of physical therapist schools provide scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before you eliminate a school because the tuition is beyond your budget, find out what financial aid may be available.

Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must verify that the physical therapist school you finally pick can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you decide to continue working while attending classes. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Chandler AZ area, check that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, verify if that is an option 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 due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Chandler Physical Therapy Colleges

Choose the Best Chandler Physical Therapist School

Choosing the best physical therapy school is an important initial decision you have to make to begin a fulfilling career in the healthcare field. As we have discussed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and school you decide on should both have outstanding reputations and accreditation. But there are other important questions that you need to ask pertaining to your school of choice also. As you start your search for a physical therapy college bear in mind that many factors will lead you toward your final decision. You might want to go to each of the colleges to view their facilities and talk to current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this college help me accomplish my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By adhering to our list of additional questions, you will be able to narrow down the field so you can make the best choice. And with the proper education and training, you can fulfill your dream to become a licensed physical therapist in Chandler Arizona.


 

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