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

Chandler Arizona physical therapist working with woman holding balance ballObtaining a physical therapy degree near Chandler AZ is an essential first step to beginning a fulfilling career in the healthcare field. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been debilitated due to illness or injury gain back function and mobility. But before they may legally practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they must obtain the appropriate training and education. A PT must also be licensed in all states, a large number mandating that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So before choosing a physical therapy school, it's essential to investigate those you are thinking about to make sure they will furnish a quality education and satisfy your state's licensing requirements. What you should not do is enroll in a college simply because it happens to be the closest to your residence or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other important qualifications that need to be evaluated besides location and cost. But before we discuss 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 Does a Physical Therapist Do?

Chandler Arizona DPT assisting woman to walk

Physical therapists work in a variety of locations, such as Chandler AZ private practices, hospitals, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and health clubs. What the facilities all have in common is that they are equipped for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As previously stated, physical therapists help people that are suffering from a lack of mobility and in many cases pain due to illness or injury. After patient diagnosis, they design a program of treatment to address the mobility issues and reduce or eradicate any pain. They also try to stop any progression of the disability. While the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Car or motor cycle accidents
  • Strokes
  • Heart attacks
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Fire injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Cerebral Palsy

Licensed physical therapists practice in close affiliation with other Chandler AZ health specialists, including doctors, chiropractors, 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 entering the physical therapy field, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and stand, crouch and kneel for extended periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degrees Available

Chandler Arizona DPT working with man in pool

There are 3 physical therapy degree options offered for individuals to pursue at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these options, the one degree that is available that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees target either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or prepping them to advance to the doctoral level. Below are brief descriptions of degrees that are available to prospective students in the Chandler AZ area:

  • Associate Degrees educate students to become physical therapy assistants, or can be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Candidates must have earned a high school diploma or equivalent to qualify for enrollment. The degrees are most often provided by community colleges, and take about two years for completion. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is typically a portion of the program.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapy training to prep students to move up to the doctoral level. Although they are not a requirement to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an important preliminary step to practicing as a PT. As with most bachelor's degrees, they generally require 4 years to finish and often incorporate 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 complete, making the total commitment 7 years in the majority of cases. Practical or clinical training is an important component along with the considerable lab and classroom instruction. Therefor the fulfillment of an internship is mandated, not only for graduation but in some states for licensing as well.

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 attainable in the United States. A number of licensed physical therapists holding a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the current licensing mandate for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapist Colleges Online

Chandler Arizona woman taking physical therapy training onlineAlthough not as common as the on campus options, there are some accredited online physical therapy degrees available, even more at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on nature of the training, internships and clinical lab work are integrated with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live near the college campus or in proximity of a sponsored internship. However, the online part of the course of study can be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Chandler AZ residence. Online programs are not only partially more accessible, but in many instances more economical. Tuition might be somewhat lower than comparable on-campus alternatives, and expenditures for commuting are minimized. And many of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These benefits can make the online option the ideal choice for those students that are disciplined enough to learn at home.

What to Ask Physical Therapist Programs

At this point you most likely have come to decision regarding several of your preliminary questions, including the kind of physical therapy degree you intend to obtain, where you want to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to invest in your education. But since there are numerous PT colleges within the Chandler AZ area and throughout Arizona, you'll need to explore other qualifications as well in order to further narrow your list of school options. Moreover, you need to make certain that you choose the school that is right for you. That's why we have collected a list of essential questions that you need to ask the physical therapy programs you are reviewing. Ask all of the potential schools these questions before making an ultimate decision.

Is the Physical Therapy Program Accredited?  Find out if the schools you are considering have earned accreditation from a regional or a national agency. As previously 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 earn 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. Additionally, verify that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Besides ensuring that you receive a quality education, accreditation might be required for state licensing as well as for getting student loans or financial assistance.

What is the Program's Standing? Along with accreditation, it's important that the school and program you choose have outstanding reputations within the physical therapy community. There are several ways you can research a PT program's reputation, beginning with asking for references from employers that they place their graduates with. You can also check online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Call a few Chandler AZ physical therapy centers or other health care facilities that you might have an interest in working for and ask if they can offer any insight about your program selections. It may also be prudent to check with the Arizona Attorney General and school licensing authority to find out if any complaints have been filed against the colleges.

What is the Program's Job Placement Percentage? There are a couple of important statistics that you should find out about all of the physical therapy programs you are looking at. First is their graduation rate. A low rate may indicate that students dropped out because of dissatisfaction with the program, the teachers, or both. After 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 school has a higher job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the healthcare community is good or perhaps outstanding. It also verifies that the school has a broad network of contacts to help students gain internships or jobs upon graduation.

Does the Program Support Licensing Requirements? It's important that the school you enroll in provides both exceptional training and a course of study that satisfies the licensing criteria for Arizona or the state where you will be working. In each state a passing score is required on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) in addition to a degree from an accredited physical therapist program. While licensing requirements vary state by state for PTA and PT graduates, a number of states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be completed as well as passing scores on supplemental exams.

Are Internships Offered? Find out if the physical therapist programs you are reviewing have partnerships with Chandler AZ clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only a great manner to get practical experience in a clinical setting, they are also a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they may help graduates and students form professional connections in the Chandler health care community and help with obtaining employment 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 hide in the crowd, you will probably prefer a smaller class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapy colleges you are researching what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you a chance to speak with several of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapy program as well.

Where is the School Located? For many students, the physical therapist school they decide on will need to be within travelling distance of their Chandler AZ home. Individuals who have opted to attend online classes naturally will not have to worry 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 normally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges normally charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Help Offered? Most DPT colleges offer some form of financial aid to their prospective students. Inquire if the colleges you are reviewing have a financial assistance department and find out what kind of help is obtainable. At a minimum they should help in acquiring a student loan or any grants you might be eligible for. Some physical therapist schools provide scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before you eliminate a program because the tuition is too expensive, ask what financial aid might be available.

Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must verify that the physical therapy college you finally select can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you opt to continue working while attending classes. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Chandler AZ area, make sure that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, find out if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would have to enroll in. Also, learn what the procedure 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 Therapy School

Picking the right physical therapist program is a necessary initial decision you need to make to launch a gratifying career in the healthcare field. As we have addressed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and school you choose should both have excellent reputations and be accredited. However there are additional relevant questions that you should ask concerning your college of choice also. As you commence your search for a physical therapist program keep in mind that numerous factors will guide you to your final decision. You may decide to go to each of the schools to view their facilities and talk to current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this program help me realize 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 ideal selection. And with the necessary training and education, you can fulfill your dream of becoming a licensed physical therapist in Chandler Arizona.


 

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