How to Enroll In the Right Physical Therapist Training Program Near Chandler Arizona
Obtaining a physical therapist degree near Chandler AZ is an important first step to starting a rewarding career in the healthcare field. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been incapacitated due to injury or illness gain back mobility and function. But before they may legally practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they need to get the appropriate education and training. A PT must also become licensed in every state, a large number mandating that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So before choosing a physical therapy school, it's necessary to investigate the ones you are looking at to make certain they will furnish a quality education and meet your state's licensing requirements. What you do not want to do is select a college just because it happens to be the nearest to your home or it has cheapest tuition. There are other important qualifications that must be considered along with cost and location. 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's Job Description?
Physical therapists practice in varying locations, including Chandler AZ hospitals, health clinics, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and sports facilities. What the facilities all have in common is that they have the equipment for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As earlier mentioned, physical therapists help people that are suffering from a lack of mobility and frequently pain caused by illness or injury. After patient diagnosis, they design a course of treatment to resolve the mobility issues and reduce or eradicate any pain. They also try to prevent any progression of the disability. Although the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are numerous, they include:
- Arthritis or Osteoporosis
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Head injuries
- Cardiac arrest
- Sports injuries
- Fire injuries
- Hip Replacement
- Multiple Sclerosis
Licensed physical therapists practice in close affiliation with other Chandler AZ health specialists, including chiropractors, physicians, dentists and nurses. They may also supervise one or more physical therapy assistants who work under them assisting with diagnosing and treating their patients. One thing to bear in mind for anyone considering getting into the physical therapy field, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists routinely lift patients and heavy equipment, and kneel, crouch and stand for extended periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapy Degree Options
There are three physical therapist degrees offered for individuals to pursue at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these choices, the only degree that is attainable that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees concentrate on either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or preparing them to advance to the doctoral level. Following are short descriptions of degree levels that are available to prospective students in the Chandler AZ area:
- Associate Degrees prepare students to become 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 typically offered by junior or community colleges, and require 2 years to complete. An internship or other form of clinical training is typically a component of the curriculum.
- Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapy education to prep candidates to move up to the doctoral level. While they are not a requirement to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an important first step to practicing as a PT. Similar to the majority of bachelor's degrees, they normally require 4 years to finish and usually include an internship program of at least 500 hours.
- Doctorate Degrees are a requirement if you want to become a practicing licensed 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 three years to complete, making the overall commitment seven years in the majority of cases. Practical or clinical training is an essential element in addition to the extensive classroom and lab instruction. Consequently the fulfillment of an internship is required, not solely for graduation but in several 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 available in the USA. A number of licensed physical therapists holding a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the existing licensing requirement for a doctorate was instituted.
Physical Therapy Online Programs
While not as prevalent as the on campus options, there are some accredited online physical therapist programs offered, even more at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on nature of the training, clinical lab work and internships are incorporated with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live near the college campus or nearby a sponsored internship. However, the online portion of the curriculum can be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Chandler AZ home. Online programs are not only partially more accessible, but in a number of cases more affordable. Tuition can be somewhat less than similar on-campus options, and expenses for commuting are reduced. And a number of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These benefits can make the online option the best choice for those students that are disciplined enough to attend classes at home.
Topics to Ask Physical Therapy Colleges
At this point you probably have come to decision concerning some of your initial queries, such as 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 schools within the Chandler AZ area and across Arizona, you'll have to look into additional qualifications also in order to further reduce your list of college choices. Furthermore, you want to be sure that you select the program that is best for you. That's why we have compiled a list of critical questions that you must ask the physical therapist schools you are reviewing. Ask each of the potential colleges these questions before making an ultimate selection.
Is the Physical Therapy Program Accredited? Find out if the schools you are reviewing have received 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 choose an online college, it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapist school and program you enroll in are accredited, not simply the school. Also, make sure that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. In addition to guaranteeing that you receive a quality education, accreditation may be mandated for state licensing and even for securing student loans or financial aid.
What is the Program's Reputation? In addition to accreditation, it's important that the college and program you pick have outstanding reputations within the physical therapy profession. There are multiple ways you can look into a PT school's reputation, beginning with requesting references from employers that they place their graduates with. You can also search for online reviews and rating services 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 may be interested in working for and ask if they can provide any advice about your school options. It may also be prudent to contact the Arizona Attorney General and school licensing authority to find out if any complaints have been submitted against the schools.
What is the Program's Job Placement Percentage? There are a two relevant statistics that you need to know about each of the physical therapy colleges you are considering. One is their graduation rate. A low rate might mean that students dropped out due to dissatisfaction with the program, the teachers, or both. Once the students have graduated, how many of them are being hired with the assistance of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Chandler AZ area? If a school has a high job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the health care community is good or perhaps outstanding. It also affirms that the school has a broad network of contacts to help students obtain internships or jobs after graduation.
Does the School Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's important that the college you select furnishes both excellent training and a course of study that supports the licensing requirements for Arizona or the state where you will be working. In each state a passing score is needed on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) in addition to a degree from an accredited physical therapist college. Although licensing requirements vary state by state for PT and PTA graduates, some states require a minimum number of clinical hours be completed as well as passing scores on additional exams.
Are Internships Sponsored? Inquire if the physical therapist programs you are evaluating have associations with Chandler AZ clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only a terrific way to get hands on experience in a clinical setting, they are additionally a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they can help graduates and students form professional connections in the Chandler health care community and help with job placement after licensing.
What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the type of person that likes to sit way in the back of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will probably prefer a smaller class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapist colleges you are looking at what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you an opportunity to speak with a few of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapist program also.
Where is the School Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapy college they decide on will need to be within commuting distance of their Chandler AZ residence. Individuals who have decided 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 concern. One thing to consider is that if you choose to enroll in a program that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might have 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 Aid Provided? Most DPT colleges supply some form of financial aid to their potential students. Find out if the schools you are examining have a financial aid department and find out what type of assistance is offered. They at least should help in obtaining a student loan or any grants you may qualify for. A number of physical therapist schools offer scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before you eliminate a school because the tuition is beyond your budget, ask what financial assistance might be available.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to verify that the physical therapy college you ultimately select can offer 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 sure that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would need to carry. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Chandler Physical Therapist School
Selecting the ideal physical therapist program is an important first decision you must make to start a fulfilling career in the healthcare profession. As we have addressed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and school you choose should both have outstanding reputations and be accredited. However there are additional relevant questions that you should ask concerning your college of choice as well. As you begin your search for a physical therapist school bear in mind that many factors will lead you to your final decision. You might want to visit each of the colleges to view their facilities and talk with active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this program help me accomplish 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 right choice. And with the proper education and training, you can achieve your dream of becoming a practicing physical therapist in Chandler Arizona.