How to Select the Right Physical Therapy College Near Coolidge Arizona
Obtaining a physical therapy degree near Coolidge AZ is an essential first step to beginning a fulfilling career in the health care field. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been debilitated due to injury or illness gain back function and mobility. But before they may legally practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they need to get the appropriate training and education. A PT must also become licensed in all states, a large number mandating that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So before selecting a physical therapy school, it's essential to evaluate the ones you are thinking about to make sure they will furnish a superior education and satisfy your state's licensing criteria. What you should not do is enroll in a school just because it happens to be the nearest to your residence or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that must be considered besides 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 what the educational options are.
What Does a Physical Therapist Do?
Physical therapists work in varying locations, including Coolidge AZ hospitals, health clinics, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and sports facilities. What the facilities all share in common is that they are equipped for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As earlier touched on, physical therapists help people that are suffering from a lack of mobility and frequently pain caused by illness or injury. After patient diagnosis, they design a course of treatment to address the mobility issues and lessen or eradicate any pain. They also endeavor to prevent any progression of the disability. Although the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are numerous, they include:
- Arthritis or Osteoporosis
- Car or motor cycle accidents
- Head injuries
- Heart attacks
- Sports injuries
- Burn injuries
- Hip Replacement
- Cerebral Palsy
Licensed physical therapists work in close association with other Coolidge AZ health professionals, including doctors, chiropractors, dentists and nurses. They can also supervise several physical therapy assistants who work for them in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. Something to bear in mind for anyone considering going into the physical therapy field, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists often lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and kneel, crouch and stand for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapist Degrees
There are 3 physical therapist degree options available for students to enroll in at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these alternatives, the only degree that is offered 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 progress to the doctoral level. Following are short summaries of degrees that are available to prospective students in the Coolidge AZ area:
- Associate Degrees educate students to become physical therapy assistants, or may be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Applicants must have obtained a high school diploma or GED to qualify for enrollment. The degrees are most often made available by community or junior colleges, and take about 2 years to complete. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is usually part of the course of study.
- Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapist training to prep candidates to advance to the doctoral level. While they are not required to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an important preliminary step to practicing as a PT. As with most bachelor's degrees, they typically take 4 years to finish and usually include an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
- Doctorate Degrees are required in order 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 investment of time seven years in most cases. Practical or clinical training is an intregal element in addition to the substantial lab and classroom instruction. Therefor the completion of an internship is required, not only for graduation but in several 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 attainable in the USA. A number of practicing physical therapists having a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the current licensing requirement for a doctorate was instituted.
Physical Therapist Programs Online
While not as prevalent as the on campus options, there are some accredited online physical therapy programs offered, even more at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on structure of the training, internships and clinical lab work are combined with the online classes. This requires that the student live close to the college campus or in proximity of a sponsored internship. Fortunately, the online portion of the course of study can be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Coolidge AZ residence. Online programs are not only to some extent more accessible, but in a number of instances more economical. Tuition may be somewhat less than comparable on campus alternatives, and costs for commuting are reduced. And a number of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These advantages may make the online alternative the best choice for those students that are dedicated enough to learn at home.
Topics to Ask Physical Therapy Colleges
By now you undoubtedly have come to decision concerning several of your initial queries, such as the type of physical therapy degree you intend to earn, where you want to attend classes, and how much you can afford to invest in your education. But since there are so many PT colleges within the Coolidge AZ area and across Arizona, you'll have to research additional qualifications also so as to further reduce your list of college options. Also, you need to make certain that you choose the program that is ideal for you. That's the reason we have collected a list of important questions that you must ask the physical therapy colleges you are considering. Ask all of the potential colleges these questions prior to making an ultimate selection.
Is the Physical Therapy Program Accredited? Find out if the schools you are considering have received accreditation from a national or a regional agency. As previously 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 can also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapist school and program you enroll in are accredited, not just the school. Also, check that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Along with guaranteeing that you obtain an excellent education, accreditation might be mandated for state licensing and even for getting student loans or financial assistance.
What is the Program's Ranking? In addition to accreditation, it's important that the college and program you choose have excellent reputations within the physical therapy profession. There are a number of ways you can investigate a PT school's reputation, starting with asking for references from employers that they place their graduates with. You can also search for online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. Get in touch with some Coolidge AZ physical therapist centers or other medical care facilities that you might be interested in working for and ask if they can give you any advice about your program options. It may also be a good idea to contact the Arizona Attorney General and school licensing authority to find out if any complaints have been submitted against the schools.
What is the School's Job Placement Rate? There are a couple of important statistics that you need to find out about each of the physical therapist colleges you are reviewing. First is their graduation rate. A low rate might indicate that students left due to displeasure with the program, the instructors, or both. After the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being placed in jobs with the assistance of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Coolidge AZ area? If a college has a high job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the healthcare community is good or even exceptional. It also verifies that the program has a wide network of contacts to assist students obtain internships or employment upon graduation.
Does the School Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the school you choose furnishes both superior training and a curriculum that supports 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) as well as a degree from an accredited physical therapist college. Although licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PT and PTA graduates, a number of states require a minimum number of clinical hours be performed and passing scores on supplemental exams.
Are Internships Provided? Inquire if the physical therapy programs you are interested in have associations with Coolidge AZ hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships a great way to obtain hands on training in a clinical setting, they are additionally a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they can help students and graduates develop professional relationships in the Coolidge health care community and assist with job placement once licensed.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of person that likes to sit way in the rear of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will probably want a smaller class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapy 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 an opportunity to talk with several of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapy program as well.
Where is the College Located? For many students, the physical therapy college they choose will need to be within commuting distance of their Coolidge AZ residence. Those who have decided to attend online classes naturally will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. One thing to keep in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a college that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges generally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges often charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.
Is Financial Aid Offered? The majority of DPT schools provide some form of financial assistance to their prospective students. Ask if the colleges you are considering have a financial aid department and see what type of aid is obtainable. They at least should help in acquiring a student loan or any scholarships you may qualify for. Some physical therapist colleges provide scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before eliminating a college because the tuition is too expensive, find out what financial aid might be available.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must verify that the physical therapy college you ultimately select can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you opt to continue working while you attend classes. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Coolidge AZ area, check that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would need to carry. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss as a result of work, illness or family obligations.
Choose the Best Coolidge Physical Therapist School
Deciding on the right physical therapist program is a necessary initial decision you must make to start a fulfilling career in the medical profession. As we have covered in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and school you choose should both have outstanding reputations and accreditation. However there are additional relevant questions that you should ask pertaining to your school of choice also. As you commence your search for a physical therapy school bear in mind that numerous factors will lead you to your ultimate decision. You may decide to visit each of the campuses to view their facilities and talk to active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this college help me reach my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By adhering to 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 achieve your dream of becoming a practicing physical therapist in Coolidge Arizona.