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How to Pick the Right Physical Therapy Degree Program Near Chandler Arizona

Chandler Arizona physical therapist working with woman using balance ballReceiving a physical therapist degree near Chandler AZ is a critical first step to beginning a fulfilling career in the health care field. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been incapacitated due to illness or injury regain function and mobility. But before they may legally practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they need to acquire the appropriate education and training. A PT must also become licensed in every state, a large number mandating that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So prior to selecting a physical therapy school, it's important to evaluate the ones you are looking at to ensure they will supply a superior education and meet your state's licensing standards. What you do not want to do is enroll in a school just because it happens to be the nearest to your residence or it has cheapest tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that need to be evaluated besides cost and location. But before we talk about what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, we'll cover what a physical therapist does and what the educational options are.

What Do Physical Therapists Do?

Chandler Arizona DPT helping woman to walk

Physical therapists work in varying locations, such as Chandler AZ hospitals, health clinics, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and health clubs. What the facilities all have in common is that they are equipped for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As previously touched on, physical therapists help patients that are experiencing a lack of mobility and frequently pain due to illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they develop a program of treatment to deal with the mobility issues and lessen or eradicate any pain. They also endeavor to stop any advancement of the disability. Though the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Osteoporosis and Arthritis
  • Car or motor cycle accidents
  • Strokes
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Sports injuries
  • Burn injuries
  • Hip Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Cerebral Palsy

Licensed physical therapists work in close association with other Chandler AZ medical professionals, including chiropractors, physicians, dentists and nurses. They may also supervise several physical therapy assistants who work under them in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. Something to take note of for anyone considering getting into the physical therapy field, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift patients and heavy equipment, and stand, crouch and kneel for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degrees Available

Chandler Arizona physical therapist working with man in pool

There are three physical therapy degree options 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 practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees target either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or preparing them to advance to the doctoral level. Below are short explanations of degrees that are offered to prospective students in the Chandler AZ area:

  • Associate Degrees prepare students to practice as physical therapy assistants, or may be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Applicants must have earned a high school diploma or GED to qualify for enrollment. The programs are most often provided by community colleges, and take about 2 years to complete. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is usually a component of the curriculum.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapist education to ready students to advance to the doctoral level. Although they are not a requirement to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an integral preliminary step to practicing as a PT. Similar to the majority of bachelor's degrees, they typically take four years to complete and usually include an internship program of at least 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are a requirement if you want 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 3 years to complete, making the overall investment of time seven years in the majority of cases. Clinical training is an intregal element along with the extensive classroom and lab instruction. Therefor the completion of an internship is mandated, not solely for graduation but in several 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 available in the United States. Some licensed physical therapists holding a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the existing licensing mandate for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapist Online Colleges

Chandler Arizona female student taking physical therapist classes onlineWhile not as common as the on-campus options, there are some accredited online physical therapy degrees offered, more so at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on structure of the training, clinical lab work and internships are integrated with the online classes. This requires that the student live close to the school campus or nearby an available internship. However, the online segment of the course of study can 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 options, and expenses for commuting are minimized. And many of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These advantages may make the online alternative the right choice for those students that are disciplined enough to attend classes at home.

Subjects to Ask Physical Therapy Schools

By now you probably have come to decision regarding some of your preliminary queries, including the type of physical therapy degree you intend to earn, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to invest in your education. But considering there are so many PT schools within the Chandler AZ area and throughout Arizona, you'll have to research other qualifications also in order to further narrow your list of school choices. Also, you want to make certain that you choose the college that is right for you. That's the reason we have compiled a list of important questions that you need to ask the physical therapy schools you are reviewing. Ask all of the competing schools these questions before making an ultimate decision.

Is the Physical Therapy College Accredited?  Ask if the schools you are considering have earned accreditation from a regional or a national organization. As earlier 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 enroll in an online school, it can also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's essential that both the physical therapy program and school you enroll in are accredited, not just the school. Additionally, make sure that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Besides ensuring that you receive an excellent education, accreditation might be required for state licensing as well as for securing student loans or financial assistance.

What is the Program's Standing? In addition to accreditation, it's important that the school and program you choose have outstanding reputations within the physical therapy profession. There are several ways you can look into a PT college's reputation, starting with requesting references from employers that they place their graduates with. You can also search for online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Get in touch with some Chandler AZ physical therapist centers or other health care facilities that you might have an interest in working for and ask if they can offer any recommendations about your school options. It may also be a good idea to contact 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 two important statistics that you need to know about each of the physical therapist programs you are considering. One is their graduation rate. A low rate might suggest that students left due to dissatisfaction with the program, the instructors, or both. Once the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being hired with the help of the school'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 healthcare community is good or perhaps exceptional. It also verifies that the program has a large network of contacts to help students obtain internships or employment upon graduation.

Does the Program Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the college you choose furnishes both superior training and a curriculum that satisfies the licensing criteria 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 therapy school. While licensing requirements vary state by state for PT and PTA graduates, some states require a minimum number of clinical hours be performed and passing scores on additional exams.

Are Internship Programs Provided? Ask if the physical therapy programs you are reviewing have relationships with Chandler AZ clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific manner to obtain hands on training in a clinical environment, they are additionally a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they can help graduates and students form professional connections in the Chandler medical community and assist with obtaining employment after licensing.

How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of student that likes to sit far in the back of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will likely prefer a small class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapist schools you are researching what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you an opportunity to speak with a few of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapist program as well.

Where is the College Located? For a number of students, the physical therapy school they pick will need to be within commuting distance of their Chandler AZ home. Those who have opted to attend online classes naturally will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. Something to bear in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a college that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges usually charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges typically charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Assistance Offered? Most DPT colleges supply some type of financial aid to their prospective students. Inquire if the schools you are considering have a financial aid department and see what kind of help is obtainable. They at least should help in obtaining a student loan or any scholarships you might be eligible for. Some physical therapy colleges provide scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before eliminating a college because the tuition is beyond your budget, learn what financial assistance might be available.

Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to confirm that the physical therapist school you ultimately select can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you choose to continue working while you attend school. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Chandler AZ area, make certain 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, learn what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Chandler Physical Therapy Degrees

Choose the Best Chandler Physical Therapy School

Deciding on the best physical therapy program is a necessary initial decision you have to make to begin a rewarding career in the medical profession. As we have covered in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and school you choose should both have exceptional reputations and accreditation. However there are additional relevant questions that you should ask pertaining to your college of choice also. As you commence your search for a physical therapist school keep in mind that many factors will guide you toward your ultimate decision. You might want to visit each of the campuses to see their facilities and speak to active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this college help me realize 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 options so you can make the ideal selection. And with the necessary education and training, you can accomplish your dream of becoming a practicing physical therapist in Chandler Arizona.


 

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