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How to Pick the Right Physical Therapy School Near Chino Valley Arizona

Chino Valley Arizona physical therapist working with female patient holding balance ballGetting a physical therapy degree near Chino Valley AZ is an important first step to launching a rewarding career in the health care field. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been disabled due to illness or injury gain back function and mobility. But before they may legally practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they need to obtain the appropriate education and training. A PT must additionally be licensed in all states, a large number requiring that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So before selecting a physical therapy school, it's necessary to investigate those you are looking at to make certain they will furnish a superior education and meet your state's licensing requirements. What you should not do is enroll in a college simply because it happens to be the nearest to your home or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other significant qualifications that must be evaluated in addition to location and cost. 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 is a Physical Therapist?

Chino Valley Arizona DPT assisting woman to walk

Physical therapists practice in varying settings, including Chino Valley AZ hospitals, health clinics, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes 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 patients that are struggling with a lack of mobility and frequently pain caused by illness or injury. After patient diagnosis, they develop a program of treatment to deal with the mobility issues and lessen or eradicate any pain. They also endeavor to prevent any advancement of the disability. Although the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Osteoporosis and Arthritis
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Strokes
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Fire injuries
  • Hip Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Cerebral Palsy

Licensed physical therapists work in close association with other Chino Valley AZ medical professionals, including doctors, chiropractors, registered nurses and dentists. They may also supervise several physical therapy assistants who work under them assisting with diagnosing and treating their patients. Something to bear in mind for anyone considering getting into the physical therapy profession, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists routinely lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and stand, crouch and kneel for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degrees Available

Chino Valley 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 options, the single 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 preparing them to advance to the doctoral level. Following are brief explanations of degrees that are available to prospective students in the Chino Valley AZ area:

  • Associate Degrees prepare students to become physical therapy assistants, or can be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Candidates must have obtained a high school diploma or GED to qualify for enrollment. The degrees are usually provided by junior or community colleges, and require two years to complete. 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 education to prepare candidates to advance to the doctoral level. Although they are not a requirement to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an essential preliminary step to becoming a PT. As with the majority of bachelor's degrees, they generally take four years to finish and usually incorporate an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are required if you want to become a licensed practicing 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 3 years to complete, making the overall investment of time seven years in the majority of cases. Clinical or practical training is an important component in addition to the substantial classroom and lab instruction. Therefor the fulfillment of an internship is mandated, not just for graduation but in some states for licensing also.

The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) has replaced the Master's of Physical Therapy (MPT), which has been eliminated and is no longer offered in the United States. A number of practicing physical therapists holding a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the current licensing mandate for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapist Online Degrees

Chino Valley Arizona woman taking physical therapist training onlineAlthough not as common as the on-campus alternatives, there are some accredited online physical therapy degrees offered, more so at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on structure of the training, internships and clinical lab work are incorporated with the online classes. This requires that the student live close to the school campus or in proximity of an available internship. However, the online part of the program may be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Chino Valley AZ residence. Online programs are not only partially more accessible, but in many instances more economical. Tuition might be somewhat less than comparable on-campus options, and costs for commuting are minimized. And many of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These advantages can make the online option the ideal choice for those students that are disciplined enough to attend classes at home.

Questions to Ask Physical Therapy Programs

By now you probably have made a decision concerning some of your preliminary questions, such as the kind of physical therapist degree you would like to attain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much you can afford to invest in your education. But considering there are so many PT colleges within the Chino Valley AZ area and across Arizona, you'll have to explore other qualifications as well in order to further reduce your list of school choices. Furthermore, you need to be sure that you pick the program that is ideal for you. That's why we have collected a list of critical questions that you need to ask the physical therapist colleges you are reviewing. Ask each of the potential schools these questions before making an ultimate decision.

Is the Physical Therapist Program Accredited?  Ask if the programs you are considering have received accreditation from a regional or a national 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 college, it may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's essential that both the physical therapy school and program you enroll in are accredited, not just the school. Additionally, verify that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Along with 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 Ranking? In addition to accreditation, it's imperative that the school and program you choose have exceptional reputations within the physical therapist profession. There are several ways you can research a PT program'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 agencies for their reviews also. Call a few Chino Valley AZ physical therapist clinics or other health care facilities that you may be interested in working for and ask if they can give you any advice about your college options. It might also be prudent to contact the Arizona Attorney General and school licensing authority to find out if any complaints have been submitted against the colleges.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? There are a couple of relevant statistics that you need to know about all of the physical therapy colleges you are looking at. One is their graduation rate. A low rate might mean that students dropped out because of displeasure with the program, the teachers, or both. Once the students have graduated, how many of them are being hired with the assistance of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Chino Valley AZ area? If a college has a high job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the medical care field is good or even outstanding. It also affirms that the college has a large network of contacts to help students get internships or jobs after graduation.

Does the Program Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's important that the college you select provides both exceptional training and a curriculum that satisfies the licensing criteria for Arizona or the state where you will be practicing. In every state a passing score is required on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapy school. Although licensing requirements vary state by state for PT and PTA graduates, many states require a minimum number of clinical hours be performed and passing scores on supplemental exams.

Are Internships Sponsored? Inquire if the physical therapy programs you are interested in have relationships with Chino Valley AZ clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a great way to get hands on training in a clinical environment, they are also a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they can assist students and graduates develop professional relationships in the Chino Valley healthcare community and assist with obtaining employment after licensing.

What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of person that prefers to sit far in the back of class or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a smaller class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapy colleges you are researching 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 ultimate determination. This will also give you a chance to converse with several of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the physical therapist program as well.

Where is the School Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapy college they decide on will need to be within travelling distance of their Chino Valley AZ home. Students who have chosen to attend classes online naturally will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. Something to keep in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a program that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may need 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 don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Support Provided? The majority of DPT colleges offer some type of financial aid to their potential students. Ask if the colleges you are looking at have a financial aid office and see what kind of help is obtainable. At a minimum they should help in acquiring a student loan or any grants you may qualify for. A number of physical therapy schools offer scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before eliminating a college because the tuition is too expensive, learn what financial assistance may be available.

Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must verify that the physical therapy college you ultimately select can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you opt to continue working while attending school. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Chino Valley AZ area, verify that they are available. 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 enroll in. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Chino Valley Physical Therapy Programs

Enroll in the Right Chino Valley Physical Therapy School

Deciding on the right physical therapist college is a necessary initial decision you must make to launch a fulfilling career in the medical profession. As we have discussed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and college you enroll in should both have exceptional reputations and be accredited. However there are other critical questions that you need to ask regarding your school of choice also. As you commence your search for a physical therapist program keep in mind that a number of factors will guide you toward your ultimate decision. You may want to go to each of the schools to view their facilities and talk with active 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 following our list of additional questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the field so you can make the appropriate choice. And with the necessary training and education, you can fulfill your dream of becoming a licensed physical therapist in Chino Valley Arizona.


 

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