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How to Enroll In the Right Physical Therapist Course Near Chandler Arizona

Chandler Arizona physical therapist working with woman holding balance ballObtaining a physical therapist degree near Chandler AZ is an essential first step to launching a rewarding career in the health care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been debilitated due to injury or illness regain mobility and function. But before they may legally practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they need to obtain the necessary education and training. A PT must also be licensed in all states, many requiring that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So prior to choosing a physical therapy school, it's essential to investigate the ones you are looking at to make certain they will furnish a quality education and satisfy your state's licensing requirements. What you should not do is choose a school simply because it happens to be the nearest to your home or it has the lowest tuition. There are other important qualifications that need to be considered along with location and cost. But before we talk about what those qualifications are and the questions you should be asking, we'll address what a physical therapist does and the options for education.

What is a Physical Therapist?

Chandler Arizona DPT helping female patient to walk

Physical therapists work in diverse settings, including Chandler AZ private practices, hospitals, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and health clubs. What the facilities all share in common is that they are equipped for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As previously stated, physical therapists help patients that are struggling with a lack of mobility and often pain caused by illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they create a course of treatment to resolve the mobility issues and reduce or eradicate any pain. They also endeavor to prevent any advancement of the disability. While the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are abundant, they include:

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

Licensed physical therapists practice in close association with other Chandler AZ health specialists, including doctors, chiropractors, dentists and nurses. They can also manage one or more physical therapy assistants who work under them in diagnosing and treating their patients. Something to take note of for anyone thinking about going into the physical therapy profession, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift patients and heavy equipment, and stand, crouch and kneel for long periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degrees

Chandler Arizona physical therapist working with patient in pool

There are three physical therapist degree options offered for individuals to pursue at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these alternatives, the one degree that is offered that qualifies the graduate to become 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. Below are brief summaries of degrees that are available to prospective students in the Chandler AZ area:

  • Associate Degrees educate students to be physical therapy assistants, or can be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Candidates must have earned a high school diploma or GED to qualify for enrollment. The degrees are most often made available by community colleges, and require two years for completion. An internship or other form of clinical training is typically part of the curriculum.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapist education to prep candidates to move up to the doctoral level. Although they are not a requirement to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an integral first step to becoming a PT. As with most bachelor's degrees, they normally take 4 years to finish and often include an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are mandated 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 complete, making the overall commitment seven years in most cases. Clinical or practical training is an important element along with the considerable classroom and lab instruction. Consequently the completion of an internship is mandated, not only for graduation but in some 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 attainable in the United States. Some licensed physical therapists having a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the current licensing requirement for a doctorate was instituted.

Physical Therapy Online Colleges

Chandler Arizona female student taking physical therapy training onlineAlthough not as prevalent as the on-campus alternatives, there are some accredited online physical therapist programs available, even more at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on nature of the training, internships and clinical lab work are combined with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live near the college campus or in proximity of an available internship. However, the online part of the course of study can be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Chandler AZ home. Online schools are not only to some extent more accessible, but in a number of cases more affordable. Tuition can be significantly lower than comparable on-campus alternatives, and costs for commuting are minimized. And many of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These advantages may make the online alternative the ideal choice for those students that are dedicated enough to attend classes at home.

Topics to Ask Physical Therapy Colleges

At this point you most likely have made a decision regarding several of your initial questions, like the type of physical therapy degree you intend to attain, where you want to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to invest in your education. But because there are so many PT colleges within the Chandler AZ area and throughout Arizona, you'll need to look into other qualifications as well in order to further narrow your list of school options. Furthermore, you need to make sure that you enroll in the school that is ideal for you. That's the reason we have put together a list of critical questions that you need to ask the physical therapist schools you are reviewing. Ask all of the competing schools these questions prior to making a final decision.

Is the Physical Therapy School Accredited?  Ask if the programs you are considering have earned accreditation from a national or a regional agency. As previously mentioned, 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 school, 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. Additionally, check that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. In addition to guaranteeing that you receive a quality education, accreditation may be mandated for state licensing as well as for getting student loans or financial assistance.

What is the College's Reputation? In addition to accreditation, it's essential that the college and program you select have outstanding reputations within the physical therapist profession. There are several ways you can research a PT school's reputation, starting with asking for references from employers that they refer their students to. You can also search for online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. Get in touch with a few Chandler AZ physical therapist centers or other medical care facilities that you may be interested in working for and ask if they can give you any recommendations about your college selections. It may also be prudent 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 College's Job Placement Percentage? There are a couple of important statistics that you should find out about each of the physical therapy schools you are considering. One is their graduation rate. A lower rate may indicate that students left because of displeasure with the program, the instructors, or both. Once the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being hired with the assistance of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Chandler 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 exceptional. It also confirms that the college has a wide network of contacts to help students obtain internships or employment after graduation.

Does the Program Support Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the college you select furnishes both exceptional training and a course of study that satisfies 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) as well as a degree from an accredited physical therapist college. Although licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PT and PTA graduates, a number of states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be completed and passing scores on supplemental exams.

Are Internships Provided? Find out if the physical therapy colleges you are interested in have associations with Chandler AZ hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only a terrific manner to obtain practical training in a clinical setting, they are also a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they can help graduates and students develop professional connections in the Chandler medical community and assist with obtaining employment once licensed.

How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of person that likes to sit far in the back of class or get lost in the crowd, you will probably prefer a small class size. Small classes permit more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapy schools you are reviewing what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you a chance to converse with some of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapy program as well.

Where is the Program Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapist college they decide on will have to be within travelling distance of their Chandler AZ home. Students who have chosen to attend online classes obviously will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. Something to keep in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a program that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges typically 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 Help Offered? The majority of DPT schools provide some form of financial aid to their potential students. Ask if the schools you are examining have a financial aid office and see what kind of help is obtainable. At a minimum they should help in getting a student loan or any grants you may be eligible for. Some physical therapist colleges provide scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before you eliminate a college because the tuition is beyond your budget, learn what financial assistance may be available.

Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to confirm that the physical therapy program you finally choose can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you decide to continue working while you attend school. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Chandler AZ area, make certain that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, find out if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would need to enroll in. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of work, illness or family obligations.

Find Out More About Chandler Online Physical Therapist Programs

Choose the Best Chandler Physical Therapy School

Selecting the right physical therapist program is an important initial decision you have to make to launch a gratifying 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. 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 therapy program keep in mind that numerous variables will guide you to your final decision. You may decide to visit each of the campuses to view their facilities and talk to current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this school help me reach my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By adhering to our list of supplemental questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the options so you can make the appropriate selection. And with the necessary training and education, you can achieve your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in Chandler Arizona.


 

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