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How to Pick the Right Physical Therapy Course Near Coolidge Arizona

Coolidge Arizona physical therapist working with female patient using exercise ballEarning a physical therapist degree near Coolidge AZ is an important first step to launching a fulfilling career in the health care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been disabled as a result of illness or injury regain mobility and function. But before they can practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they need to receive the necessary training and education. A PT must additionally become licensed in all states, a large number mandating that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So before choosing a physical therapy school, it's necessary to investigate the ones you are considering to make certain they will provide a superior education and comply with your state's licensing requirements. What you do not want to do is select a school simply because it happens to be the nearest to your residence or it has cheapest tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that need to be considered besides cost and location. But before we discuss what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, we'll address what a physical therapist does and what the educational options are.

What is a Physical Therapist's Job Description?

Coolidge Arizona physical therapist assisting female patient to walk

Physical therapists work in diverse locations, such as Coolidge AZ hospitals, health clinics, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and health clubs. What the facilities all share in common is that they have the equipment for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As previously touched on, physical therapists help patients that are experiencing a lack of mobility and frequently pain caused by illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they create a course of treatment to address the mobility problems and lessen or eradicate any pain. They also try to stop any advancement of the disability. While the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Car or motor cycle accidents
  • Strokes
  • Heart attacks
  • Sports injuries
  • Burn injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists practice in close partnerships with other Coolidge AZ health professionals, including doctors, chiropractors, dentists and nurses. They can also manage one or more physical therapy assistants who work under them in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. One thing to take note of for anyone thinking about 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

Coolidge Arizona DPT working with patient in pool

There are three physical therapy degree options available for individuals to enroll in 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 preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or preparing them to advance to the doctoral level. Following are brief descriptions of degree levels that are offered to prospective students in the Coolidge AZ area:

  • Associate Degrees train students to be physical therapy assistants, or may be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Candidates must have obtained a high school diploma or equivalent to qualify for enrollment. The degrees are most often offered by community colleges, and require 2 years to complete. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is usually a component of the program.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapist training to prep candidates to advance to the doctoral level. Although they are not required to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an important preliminary step to practicing as a PT. Similar to the majority of bachelor's degrees, they generally take four years to complete and usually incorporate an internship program of at least 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are mandated 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). After earning the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes 3 years to complete, making the total commitment seven years in the majority of cases. Practical or clinical training is an intregal component along with the extensive classroom and lab instruction. Therefor 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 phased out and is no longer available in the United States. A number of practicing physical therapists having a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the present licensing mandate for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapy Colleges Online

Coolidge Arizona woman taking physical therapist classes onlineWhile not as prevalent as the on campus options, there are many accredited online physical therapy degrees available, more so at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on nature of the training, clinical lab work and internships are integrated with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live near the school 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 Coolidge AZ home. Online programs are not only partially more accessible, but in many instances more affordable. Tuition might be somewhat lower than similar on-campus options, and expenditures for commuting are minimized. And many of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These advantages may make the online alternative the best choice for those students that are motivated enough to attend classes at home.

Subjects to Ask Physical Therapy Colleges

By now you most likely have come to decision regarding some of your preliminary questions, such as the type of physical therapist degree you want to attain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to spend for your education. But considering there are so many PT schools within the Coolidge AZ area and across Arizona, you'll have to explore additional qualifications also in order to further reduce your list of school options. Also, you want to make certain that you enroll in the school that is ideal for you. That's the reason we have put together a list of critical questions that you need to ask the physical therapist programs you are considering. Ask each of the potential colleges these questions before making a final selection.

Is the Physical Therapy School Accredited?  Find out if the programs you are considering have earned accreditation from a national or a regional organization. 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 program, it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's essential that both the physical therapist program and school you select are accredited, not simply the school. Also, make sure that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Along with ensuring that you receive an excellent education, accreditation might be mandated for state licensing as well as for securing student loans or financial assistance.

What is the College's Reputation? In addition to accreditation, it's imperative that the college and program you select have excellent reputations within the physical therapist profession. There are several ways you can research a PT school's reputation, beginning with requesting references from employers that they place their graduates with. You may also search for online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. Call a few Coolidge AZ physical therapy centers or other health care facilities that you might have an interest in working for and ask if they can provide any advice about your program selections. It might also be prudent to check with the Arizona Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been submitted against the schools.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? There are a couple of useful statistics that you should know about all of the physical therapist programs you are reviewing. First is their graduation rate. A low rate may indicate that students dropped out because of dissatisfaction with the program, the instructors, 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 Coolidge AZ area? If a school has a higher job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the health care field is good or perhaps excellent. It also confirms that the college has a large network of contacts to help students gain internships or jobs upon graduation.

Does the School Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the program you choose provides both superior training and a curriculum that satisfies 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) as well as a degree from an accredited physical therapist program. While licensing requirements vary 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 Sponsored? Find out if the physical therapist programs you are evaluating have partnerships with Coolidge AZ hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific manner to receive 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 may help graduates and students develop professional connections in the Coolidge health care community and assist with obtaining employment once licensed.

How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of student that prefers to sit far in the rear of class or hide in the crowd, you will likely prefer a smaller class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapist schools you are reviewing 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 ultimate decision. This will also give you an opportunity to talk with a few of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the physical therapy program also.

Where is the Program Located? For many students, the physical therapist college they pick will have to be within travelling distance of their Coolidge AZ home. Individuals who have opted to attend online classes obviously will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of importance. Something to bear in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a school that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges normally 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 Assistance Provided? Most DPT colleges provide some form of financial aid to their potential students. Ask if the colleges you are reviewing have a financial aid office and find out what type of aid is offered. At a minimum they should help in obtaining a student loan or any grants you might qualify for. Some physical therapist schools offer scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before you eliminate a school because the tuition is too expensive, ask what financial aid may be available.

Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to verify that the physical therapy school you finally choose can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you decide to continue working while attending classes. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Coolidge AZ area, verify that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, find out if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would have to enroll in. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Coolidge Online Physical Therapy Training

Enroll in the Best Coolidge Physical Therapist School

Choosing the ideal physical therapy college is a necessary initial decision you must make to start a fulfilling career in the health care profession. As we have addressed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and college you pick should both have exceptional reputations and accreditation. However there are other critical questions that you should ask pertaining to your college of choice also. As you commence your search for a physical therapist program bear in mind that many variables will guide you toward your final decision. You might want to go to different colleges to see their facilities and speak to current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this college help me accomplish my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By adhering to our list of supplemental questions, you will be able to narrow down the field so you can make the ideal selection. And with the necessary education and training, you can accomplish your dream of becoming a practicing physical therapist in Coolidge Arizona.


 

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