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How to Find the Right Physical Therapist Training Program Near Cottonwood Arizona

Cottonwood Arizona physical therapist working with woman holding exercise ballObtaining a physical therapy degree near Cottonwood AZ is a critical first step to launching a fulfilling career in the healthcare industry. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been debilitated as a result of injury or illness regain mobility and function. But before they can practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they must acquire the proper training and education. A PT must additionally become licensed in every state, a large number mandating that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So before enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's necessary to investigate those you are considering to make certain they will provide a superior education and satisfy your state's licensing standards. What you should not do is select a school just because it happens to be the closest to your home or it has cheapest tuition. There are other significant qualifications that need to be evaluated in addition to cost and location. But before we discuss what those qualifications are and the questions you should be asking, we'll cover what a physical therapist does and the options for education.

What is a Physical Therapist?

Cottonwood Arizona DPT assisting woman to walk

Physical therapists practice in diverse settings, such as Cottonwood AZ private practices, hospitals, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and health clubs. What the facilities all have in common is that they are equipped for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As earlier stated, physical therapists help people that are experiencing a lack of mobility and frequently pain caused by illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they create a program of treatment to deal with the mobility issues and reduce or eradicate any pain. They also strive to prevent any advancement of the disability. Although the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are abundant, they include:

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

Licensed physical therapists work in close partnerships with other Cottonwood AZ medical specialists, including doctors, chiropractors, dentists and nurses. They may also oversee several physical therapy assistants who work for them in diagnosing and treating their patients. Something to bear in mind for anyone considering getting into the physical therapy field, 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 Available

Cottonwood Arizona physical therapist working with patient in pool

There are three physical therapist degree options available for students to pursue at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these alternatives, the single degree that is attainable that qualifies the graduate to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees focus on either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or preparing them to advance to the doctoral level. Below are short descriptions of degrees that are offered to prospective students in the Cottonwood 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 qualify for enrollment. The programs are most often provided by community or junior colleges, and take about two years for completion. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is usually a portion of the curriculum.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapist education to ready candidates to progress to the doctoral level. While they are not required to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an essential first step to practicing as a PT. Similar to most bachelor's degrees, they generally take 4 years to complete and commonly include an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are a requirement in order to become a licensed practicing physical therapist. The degree program also must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). In addition to the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes 3 years to complete, making the overall investment of time 7 years in the majority of cases. Clinical training is an intregal component along with the substantial classroom and lab instruction. Consequently the fulfillment of an internship is mandated, not just 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 offered in the USA. Some licensed physical therapists holding a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the existing licensing requirement for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapist Online Programs

Cottonwood Arizona woman taking physical therapist training onlineWhile not as common as the more traditional alternatives, there are some accredited online physical therapist programs available, even more 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 requires that the student live close to the school campus or nearby an available internship. However, the online portion of the program can be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Cottonwood AZ residence. Online programs are not only partially more accessible, but in a number of cases more affordable. Tuition might be somewhat lower than comparable on-campus alternatives, 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 ideal choice for those students that are disciplined enough to attend classes at home.

Questions to Ask Physical Therapist Colleges

At this point you probably have made a decision regarding some of your preliminary questions, like the kind of physical therapist degree you want to earn, where you want to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to invest in your education. But since there are numerous PT colleges within the Cottonwood AZ area and throughout Arizona, you'll need to explore other qualifications also in order to further reduce your list of college options. Moreover, you need to make certain that you pick the program that is ideal for you. That's the reason we have compiled a list of critical questions that you must ask the physical therapy programs you are thinking about. Ask each of the competing colleges these questions prior to making an ultimate decision.

Is the Physical Therapist School Accredited?  Ask if the schools you are reviewing have received accreditation from a regional or a national 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 receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's essential that both the physical therapist program and school you choose are accredited, not simply the school. Also, make sure that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Along with ensuring that you receive an excellent education, accreditation may be mandated for state licensing and even for securing student loans or financial assistance.

What is the School's Reputation? In addition to accreditation, it's important that the college and program you pick have exceptional reputations within the physical therapist profession. There are multiple ways you can look into a PT college's reputation, beginning with asking for references from employers that they place their graduates with. You may also check online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Get in touch with some Cottonwood AZ physical therapy centers or other healthcare facilities that you might be interested in working for and ask if they can provide any advice 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 submitted against the schools.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? There are a two useful statistics that you need to know about all of the physical therapy schools you are looking at. One is their graduation rate. A low rate may suggest that students left due to 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 college's job placement program, particularly in the Cottonwood AZ area? If a school has a higher job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the health care community is good or perhaps outstanding. It also verifies that the school has a wide network of contacts to assist students obtain internships or jobs upon graduation.

Does the Program Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the college you enroll in provides both excellent training and a curriculum that satisfies the licensing requirements for Arizona or the state where you will be working. In every state a passing score is needed 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, some states require a minimum number of clinical hours be performed as well as passing scores on additional exams.

Are Internship Programs Provided? Inquire if the physical therapy colleges you are assessing have associations with Cottonwood AZ hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only a great manner to get hands on training in a clinical setting, they are additionally a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they can assist students and graduates establish professional connections in the Cottonwood healthcare community and assist with job placement after licensing.

What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of person that prefers to sit way in the rear of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will probably want a small class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapy schools you are considering what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you an opportunity to converse with a few of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapist program as well.

Where is the Program Located? For a number of students, the physical therapy school they choose will need to be within travelling distance of their Cottonwood AZ residence. Individuals who have opted to attend classes online naturally will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. Something to bear in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a college that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might need 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 live outside of their districts.

Is Financial Help Provided? The majority of DPT colleges offer some form of financial aid to their potential students. Inquire if the schools you are examining have a financial aid department and find out what kind of aid is available. At a minimum they should help in getting a student loan or any scholarships you might be eligible for. Some physical therapy schools offer scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before eliminating a school because the tuition is too expensive, ask what financial assistance may be available.

Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to verify that the physical therapist school you finally choose can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you decide to continue working while attending classes. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Cottonwood AZ area, check that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, verify if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would have to carry. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss due to illness, work or family obligations.

Find Out More About Cottonwood Physical Therapy Colleges

Enroll in the Right Cottonwood Physical Therapy School

Choosing the ideal physical therapy program is an important first decision you must make to launch a fulfilling career in the health care profession. As we have discussed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and school you enroll in should both have exceptional reputations and be accredited. But there are additional critical questions that you should ask concerning your college of choice as well. As you commence your search for a physical therapist school bear in mind that many variables will guide you toward your ultimate decision. You might want to visit each of the campuses to view their facilities and speak with current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this school 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 options so you can make the ideal choice. And with the proper training and education, you can fulfill your dream of becoming a licensed physical therapist in Cottonwood Arizona.


 

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