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How to Select the Right Physical Therapist Degree Program Near Chinle Arizona

Chinle Arizona physical therapist working with female patient using balance ballReceiving a physical therapist degree near Chinle AZ is an important first step to starting a fulfilling career in the healthcare industry. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been incapacitated as a result of illness or injury gain back function and mobility. But before they can practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they must get the proper training and education. A PT must also become licensed in all states, a large number requiring that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So prior to selecting a physical therapy school, it's essential to evaluate the ones you are thinking about to make certain they will deliver a superior education and comply with your state's licensing requirements. What you do not want to do is choose a school simply because it happens to be the nearest to your home or it has cheapest tuition. There are other significant qualifications that need to be considered besides 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 Do Physical Therapists Do?

Chinle Arizona DPT helping female patient to walk

Physical therapists work in diverse locations, including Chinle AZ hospitals, health clinics, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and health clubs. What the facilities all share in common is that they are equipped for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As earlier touched on, physical therapists help patients that are suffering from a lack of mobility and frequently pain due to illness or injury. After patient diagnosis, they develop a course of treatment to address 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:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Strokes
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Sports injuries
  • Fire injuries
  • Hip Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Cerebral Palsy

Licensed physical therapists practice in close partnerships with other Chinle AZ health specialists, including doctors, chiropractors, registered nurses and dentists. They may also supervise one or more physical therapy assistants who work for them in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. One thing to bear in mind for anyone considering going into the physical therapy field, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists routinely lift patients and heavy equipment, and stand, crouch and kneel for extended periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapist Degrees Available

Chinle Arizona physical therapist working with patient in pool

There are three physical therapy degree options available for individuals to enroll in at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these options, the only degree that is attainable that qualifies the graduate to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees concentrate on either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or prepping them to progress to the doctoral level. Below are short summaries of degrees that are offered to prospective students in the Chinle AZ area:

  • Associate Degrees prepare students to practice as physical therapy assistants, or can be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Candidates must have a high school diploma or equivalent to qualify for enrollment. The degrees are usually made available by junior or community colleges, and require two years to complete. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is normally a component of the program.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapist education to prepare students to move up to the doctoral level. While they are not a requirement to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an essential initial step to practicing as a PT. Similar to most bachelor's degrees, they generally require four years to complete and often incorporate an internship program of at least 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are required in order to become a licensed practicing physical therapist. The degree program must also 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 finish, making the total investment of time 7 years in most cases. Clinical training is an essential component along with the substantial lab and classroom instruction. Consequently the completion of an internship is mandated, not just 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 available in the United States. A number of licensed physical therapists having a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the present licensing mandate for a doctorate was instituted.

Physical Therapist Schools Online

Chinle Arizona woman taking physical therapist training onlineAlthough not as common as the on-campus alternatives, there are some accredited online physical therapist programs available, even more at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on structure 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. Fortunately, the online portion of the program may be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Chinle AZ residence. Online programs are not only to some extent more accessible, but in a number of cases more economical. Tuition can be somewhat less than similar on-campus options, and costs for commuting are reduced. And many of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These advantages may make the online alternative the ideal choice for those students that are motivated enough to attend classes at home.

What to Ask Physical Therapist Schools

By now you undoubtedly have made a decision regarding several of your preliminary queries, like the type of physical therapy degree you would like to obtain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much you can afford to spend for your education. But since there are numerous PT schools within the Chinle AZ area and across Arizona, you'll need to look into additional qualifications also so as to further reduce your list of school choices. Also, you want to be sure that you pick the college that is right for you. That's the reason we have collected a list of important questions that you need to ask the physical therapist colleges you are reviewing. Ask each of the competing schools these questions prior to making a final selection.

Is the Physical Therapist Program Accredited?  Find out if the programs you are reviewing have earned accreditation from a regional or a national agency. As earlier 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 obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's important that both the physical therapy school and program you select are accredited, not simply the school. Additionally, make sure that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. In addition to ensuring that you obtain a quality education, accreditation may be mandated for state licensing as well as for getting student loans or financial aid.

What is the Program's Reputation? In addition to accreditation, it's imperative that the college and program you pick have outstanding reputations within the physical therapy community. There are a number of ways you can look into a PT program's reputation, beginning with requesting references from employers that they refer their students to. You may also check online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. Get in touch with some Chinle AZ physical therapist centers or other healthcare facilities that you might have an interest in working for and ask if they can provide any advice about your school selections. It might also be a good idea to check with the Arizona Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been filed against the schools.

What is the College's Job Placement Percentage? There are a two important statistics that you should know about each of the physical therapy programs you are looking at. One is their graduation rate. A low rate may suggest that students left because of displeasure with the program, the teachers, or both. After the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being placed in jobs with the assistance of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Chinle AZ area? If a program has a high job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the health care field is good or even exceptional. It also verifies that the program has a broad network of contacts to assist students gain internships or employment upon graduation.

Does the Program Support Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the college you enroll in provides both excellent training and a curriculum 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 differ state by state for PT and PTA graduates, some states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be performed as well as passing scores on additional tests.

Are Internships Provided? Ask if the physical therapist schools you are evaluating have relationships with Chinle AZ clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a great manner to get hands on training in a clinical setting, they are also a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they may help students and graduates develop professional connections in the Chinle healthcare community and help with obtaining employment once licensed.

What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of person that prefers to sit way in the back of class or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a small class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapy schools you are reviewing what the typical student to teacher 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 a few of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapy program as well.

Where is the School Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapy school they choose will need to be within commuting distance of their Chinle AZ home. Individuals who have opted to attend online classes naturally will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. One thing to keep in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a program that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you may be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges often charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges usually charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.

Is Financial Support Offered? Most DPT schools supply some form of financial aid to their prospective students. Inquire if the schools you are considering have a financial aid office and see what kind of aid is offered. They at least should help in getting a student loan or any scholarships you might qualify for. Some physical therapy schools provide scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before you eliminate a program because the tuition is too expensive, find out what financial assistance may be available.

Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to verify that the physical therapy college you finally select can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you opt to continue working while you attend school. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Chinle AZ area, confirm that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, verify if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would have to carry. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss due to work, illness or family obligations.

Find Out More About Chinle Online Physical Therapist Colleges

Choose the Right Chinle Physical Therapist School

Choosing the right physical therapy college is an important initial decision you must make to start a rewarding career in the health care profession. As we have covered in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and school you select should both have excellent reputations and accreditation. But there are additional important questions that you need to ask regarding your school of choice also. As you commence your search for a physical therapy college keep in mind that a number of variables will lead you to your final decision. You may want to visit different colleges to see their facilities and speak with active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this school help me realize my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By following our list of supplemental questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the field so you can make the ideal choice. And with the necessary education and training, you can accomplish your dream of becoming a licensed physical therapist in Chinle Arizona.


 

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