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How to Choose the Right Physical Therapy College Near Chino Valley Arizona

Chino Valley Arizona physical therapist working with female patient using exercise ballEarning a physical therapy degree near Chino Valley AZ is an important first step to starting a fulfilling career in the healthcare industry. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been incapacitated due to injury or illness gain back mobility and function. But before they can practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they need to get the proper training and education. A PT must additionally become licensed in every state, many requiring that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So before choosing a physical therapy school, it's necessary to investigate those you are considering to make certain they will deliver a quality education and satisfy your state's licensing requirements. What you should not do is enroll in a college simply because it happens to be the closest to your residence or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that must be considered in addition to location and cost. But before we cover 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 Does a Physical Therapist Do?

Chino Valley Arizona physical therapist assisting female patient to walk

Physical therapists work in varying locations, including Chino Valley 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 the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As previously mentioned, physical therapists help people that are struggling with a lack of mobility and frequently pain caused by illness or injury. After patient diagnosis, they design a course of treatment to deal with the mobility issues and reduce or eradicate any pain. They also endeavor to stop any advancement of the disability. While the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Strokes
  • Heart attacks
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Burn injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists work in close affiliation with other Chino Valley AZ health specialists, including doctors, chiropractors, dentists and nurses. They can also oversee several physical therapy assistants who work under them assisting with the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. One thing to take note of for anyone considering going into the physical therapy profession, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift patients and heavy equipment, and stand, crouch and kneel for extended 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 offered for individuals to pursue at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these options, the one degree that is offered that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees emphasize either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or readying them to progress to the doctoral level. Below are brief descriptions of degree levels that are available to prospective students in the Chino Valley AZ area:

  • Associate Degrees educate students to be physical therapy assistants, or may be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Candidates must have a high school diploma or equivalent to qualify for enrollment. The programs are typically offered by junior or community colleges, and require two years for completion. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is normally part of the program.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapy training to prepare candidates to advance to the doctoral level. While they are not a requirement to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an essential preliminary step to becoming a PT. As with most bachelor's degrees, they generally require four years to finish and usually include an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are a requirement if you want to become a practicing licensed 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 complete, making the total commitment 7 years in most cases. Clinical training is an intregal component along with the substantial classroom and lab instruction. Therefor the fulfillment of an internship is required, not just for graduation but in a number of states for licensing as well.

The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) has replaced the Master's of Physical Therapy (MPT), which has been phased out and is no longer attainable in the USA. Some licensed physical therapists having 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 Therapy Online Colleges

Chino Valley Arizona woman taking physical therapy classes onlineWhile not as prevalent as the on-campus alternatives, there are a number of accredited online physical therapy degrees offered, even more at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on nature of the training, clinical lab work and internships are incorporated with the online classes. This requires that the student live close to the school campus or in proximity of a sponsored internship. Fortunately, the online segment of the course of study may be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Chino Valley AZ home. Online programs are not only to some extent more accessible, but in a number of instances more affordable. Tuition may be significantly lower than similar on campus alternatives, and expenses for commuting are reduced. And a number of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These benefits may make the online option the best choice for those students that are disciplined enough to learn at home.

Questions to Ask Physical Therapist Schools

By now you most likely have made a decision concerning a few of your preliminary queries, such as the kind of physical therapist degree you would like to earn, where you want to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to spend for your education. But since there are so many PT colleges within the Chino Valley AZ area and across Arizona, you'll have to look into other qualifications also so as to further narrow your list of college choices. Also, you want to be sure that you select the school that is right for you. That's the reason we have collected a list of essential questions that you need to ask the physical therapy colleges you are thinking about. Ask each of the potential schools these questions prior to making an ultimate decision.

Is the Physical Therapy School Accredited?  Find out if the programs you are considering have received accreditation from a regional or a national agency. As previously 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 select an online school, it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's essential that both the physical therapy school and program you choose are accredited, not simply the school. Additionally, check that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Besides guaranteeing that you obtain a quality education, accreditation may be required for state licensing and even for securing student loans or financial aid.

What is the Program's Ranking? In addition to accreditation, it's imperative that the school and program you pick have excellent reputations within the physical therapist community. There are a number of ways you can investigate a PT college's reputation, beginning with requesting references from employers that they refer their students to. You can also search for online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. Get in touch with some Chino Valley AZ physical therapy clinics or other health care facilities that you might be interested in working for and ask if they can provide any insight about your program options. It may also be a good idea to contact the Arizona Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been submitted against the schools.

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 colleges you are considering. First is their graduation rate. A lower rate might suggest that students dropped out because of dissatisfaction with the program, the teachers, or both. After the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being hired with the help of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Chino Valley 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 excellent. It also affirms that the school has a broad network of contacts to assist students get internships or jobs after graduation.

Does the Program Support Licensing Requirements? It's important that the college you choose furnishes both excellent training and a course of study that satisfies the licensing criteria for Arizona or the state where you will be practicing. In each state a passing score is needed on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapy program. While licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PTA and PT graduates, some states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be performed and passing scores on additional exams.

Are Internships Provided? Ask if the physical therapist schools you are interested in have relationships with Chino Valley AZ clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships an excellent way to get practical experience in a clinical environment, they are additionally a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they can help students and graduates form professional connections in the Chino Valley health care community and help with job placement once licensed.

What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the sort of person that prefers to sit far in the back of class or hide in the crowd, you will likely prefer a small class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapist schools you are researching what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. 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 talk with some of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapist program also.

Where is the School Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapist college they choose will have to be within travelling distance of their Chino Valley AZ residence. Those who have opted to attend online classes obviously will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. One thing to bear 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 might need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges generally 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 Help Offered? The majority of DPT schools supply some form of financial support to their potential students. Find out if the schools you are considering have a financial aid department and see what kind of assistance is offered. At a minimum they should help in securing a student loan or any scholarships you might be eligible for. Some physical therapist schools offer scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before eliminating a college because the tuition is beyond your budget, learn what financial aid might be available.

Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must confirm that the physical therapist program you finally pick can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you decide 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 offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would have to carry. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss because of illness, work or family obligations.

Find Out More About Chino Valley Physical Therapy Majors

Choose the Best Chino Valley Physical Therapist School

Selecting the best physical therapy program is an important first decision you must make to begin a fulfilling career in the medical profession. As we have discussed 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 should ask concerning your college of choice as well. As you start your search for a physical therapy program bear in mind that many factors will lead you to your final decision. You may decide to visit each of the schools to view their facilities and speak 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 additional questions, you will be able to narrow down the field so you can make the best choice. And with the proper training and education, you can fulfill your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in Chino Valley Arizona.


 

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