How to Find the Right Physical Therapy Program Near Coolidge Arizona
Obtaining a physical therapy degree near Coolidge AZ is an important first step to starting a fulfilling career in the medical care field. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been disabled due to illness or injury regain mobility and function. But before they can practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they need to receive the necessary training and education. A PT must also be licensed in all states, a large number requiring that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So before choosing a physical therapy school, it's important to investigate those you are thinking about to make certain they will provide a superior education and comply with your state's licensing criteria. What you should not do is enroll in a school just because it happens to be the closest to your residence or it has cheapest tuition. There are other important qualifications that must be considered besides cost and location. But before we talk about what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, we'll address what a physical therapist does and the options for education.
What is a Physical Therapist's Job Description?
Physical therapists work in diverse locations, such as Coolidge AZ private practices, hospitals, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and health clubs. What the facilities all have in common is that they have the equipment for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As earlier mentioned, physical therapists help patients that are experiencing a lack of mobility and frequently pain due to injury or illness. After diagnosing a patient, they develop a program of treatment to resolve the mobility problems and lessen or eliminate any pain. They also endeavor to prevent any advancement of the disability. Although the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are abundant, they include:
- Osteoporosis and Arthritis
- Car or motor cycle accidents
- Head injuries
- Heart attacks
- Sports injuries
- Burn injuries
- Knee Replacement
- Cerebral Palsy
Licensed physical therapists work in close affiliation with other Coolidge AZ medical professionals, including doctors, chiropractors, registered nurses and dentists. They can also manage one or more physical therapy assistants who work for them assisting with diagnosing and treating their patients. Something to bear in mind for anyone considering entering the physical therapy profession, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists routinely lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and kneel, crouch and stand for extended periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapist Degrees
There are 3 physical therapist degree options offered for students to pursue at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these choices, the only degree that is available that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees target either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or readying them to advance to the doctoral level. Below are brief summaries of degree levels that are offered to prospective students in the Coolidge AZ area:
- Associate Degrees prepare students to become physical therapy assistants, or can be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Candidates must have obtained a high school diploma or equivalent to be accepted for enrollment. The programs are typically provided by community or junior colleges, and take about 2 years to complete. An internship or other form of clinical training is normally part of the program.
- Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapy training to ready candidates to progress to the doctoral level. While they are not a requirement to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an integral initial step to becoming a PT. Similar to the majority of bachelor's degrees, they typically take 4 years to finish and commonly 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 also must 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 total investment of time seven years in the majority of cases. Clinical training is an essential component along with the substantial classroom and lab instruction. Consequently the fulfillment of an internship is mandated, 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 attainable in the United States. Some practicing physical therapists holding a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the current licensing requirement for a doctorate was implemented.
Physical Therapist Programs Online
While not as common as the on-campus alternatives, there are a number of accredited online physical therapy degrees offered, more so at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on structure of the training, clinical lab work and internships are combined with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live near the school campus or nearby an available internship. However, the online segment of the program may be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Coolidge 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 expenses for commuting are reduced. And many of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These benefits can make the online option the right choice for those students that are dedicated enough to learn at home.
What to Ask Physical Therapist Colleges
At this point you probably have come to decision regarding some of your preliminary questions, like the kind of physical therapist degree you intend to earn, where you want to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to invest in your education. But because there are numerous PT colleges within the Coolidge AZ area and throughout Arizona, you'll have to explore additional qualifications as well so as to further narrow your list of college choices. Moreover, you need to make certain that you choose the college that is ideal for you. That's why we have collected a list of important questions that you need to ask the physical therapist programs you are reviewing. Ask each of the competing schools these questions before making an ultimate selection.
Is the Physical Therapist School Accredited? Find out if the colleges you are considering have received accreditation from a national or a regional agency. As earlier stated, if you are pursuing a doctorate the program must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). If you select an online school, it can also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapy school and program you enroll in are accredited, not simply the school. Also, verify that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Besides guaranteeing that you obtain a quality education, accreditation might be required for state licensing as well as for getting student loans or financial assistance.
What is the School's Standing? Along with accreditation, it's important that the college and program you pick have exceptional reputations within the physical therapy community. There are multiple ways you can investigate a PT college's reputation, beginning with asking for references from employers that they place their graduates with. You may also check online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. Call several Coolidge AZ physical therapist centers or other health care facilities that you might be interested in working for and ask if they can provide any recommendations about your school selections. It may 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 colleges.
What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? There are a couple of useful statistics that you should find out about each of the physical therapist schools you are looking at. First is their graduation rate. A lower rate may mean that students left because of displeasure with the program, the teachers, or both. Once the students have graduated, how many of them are being hired with the help of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Coolidge AZ area? If a school has a higher job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the healthcare community is good or even exceptional. It also confirms that the school has a broad network of contacts to assist students gain internships or jobs upon graduation.
Does the College Support Licensing Requirements? It's important that the school you enroll in furnishes both excellent training and a curriculum that supports the licensing requirements 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) in addition to a degree from an accredited physical therapy college. While licensing requirements vary state by state for PTA and PT graduates, some states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be completed as well as passing scores on additional exams.
Are Internships Provided? Ask if the physical therapist schools you are assessing have relationships with Coolidge AZ clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships an excellent manner to receive practical training in a clinical setting, they are also a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they can assist students and graduates form professional connections in the Coolidge healthcare community and assist with job placement after licensing.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of person that likes to sit way in the rear of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a small class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapy colleges you are considering what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you a chance to converse with several of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapist program as well.
Where is the College Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapist college they pick will need to be within travelling distance of their Coolidge AZ residence. Students who have opted 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 importance. Something to consider is that if you choose to enroll in a program that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges often charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges frequently charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.
Is Financial Help Offered? The majority of DPT schools supply some type of financial support to their prospective students. Find out if the schools you are looking at have a financial aid office and see what type of aid is offered. At a minimum they should help in securing a student loan or any scholarships you may qualify for. Some physical therapist schools offer scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before eliminating a college because the tuition is too expensive, learn what financial aid might be available.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must verify that the physical therapist program you ultimately choose can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you decide to continue working while you attend school. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Coolidge AZ area, make sure that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, verify if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would need to carry. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss due to work, illness or family obligations.
Choose the Best Coolidge Physical Therapy School
Choosing the best physical therapy program is a necessary initial decision you need to make to begin a gratifying career in the medical profession. As we have discussed in this article, the DPT or PT 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 school of choice as well. As you begin your search for a physical therapy school keep in mind that a number of factors will guide you to your final decision. You might decide to visit different colleges to see their facilities and talk to current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this college help me reach my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By following our list of additional questions, you will be able to narrow down the field so you can make the right selection. And with the necessary training and education, you can achieve your dream of becoming a licensed physical therapist in Coolidge Arizona.