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How to Pick the Right Physical Therapist School Near Doney Park Arizona

Doney Park Arizona physical therapist working with female patient holding exercise ballEarning a physical therapist degree near Doney Park AZ is an essential first step to beginning a fulfilling career in the health care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been disabled due to illness or injury gain back mobility and function. But before they can practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they need to obtain 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 selecting a physical therapy school, it's necessary to evaluate the ones you are thinking about to make certain they will deliver a quality education and satisfy your state's licensing standards. What you should not do is choose 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 need to be considered along with 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 the options for education.

What is a Physical Therapist's Job Description?

Doney Park Arizona DPT assisting woman to walk

Physical therapists practice in varying settings, including Doney Park AZ private practices, hospitals, 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 previously mentioned, physical therapists help people that are struggling with a lack of mobility and in many cases pain caused by injury or illness. After diagnosing a patient, they design a program of treatment to deal with the mobility issues and reduce or eradicate any pain. They also endeavor to prevent any progression of the disability. Although the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are abundant, they include:

  • Osteoporosis and Arthritis
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Head injuries
  • Heart attacks
  • Sports injuries
  • Burn injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists practice in close association with other Doney Park AZ health specialists, including chiropractors, physicians, dentists and nurses. They may also oversee several 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 often lift patients and heavy equipment, and kneel, crouch and stand for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapist Degree Options

Doney Park Arizona physical therapist working with patient in pool

There are three physical therapy degree options offered for students to enroll in at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these choices, the only degree that is attainable that qualifies the graduate to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees emphasize either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or readying them to progress to the doctoral level. Below are short descriptions of degree levels that are available to prospective students in the Doney Park 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 GED to be accepted for enrollment. The programs are most often provided by junior or 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 course of study.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are designed 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 essential first step to practicing as a PT. As with the majority of bachelor's degrees, they normally require 4 years to complete and commonly incorporate an internship program of at least 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are required in order to become a licensed practicing physical therapist. The degree program must also be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). After earning the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes 3 years to finish, making the overall commitment 7 years in the majority of cases. Clinical training is an essential component in addition to the extensive lab and classroom instruction. Therefor the fulfillment of an internship is mandated, not just for graduation but in some 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. Some licensed physical therapists holding a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the current licensing requirement for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapy Online Degrees

Doney Park Arizona female student taking physical therapy courses onlineWhile not as prevalent as the on-campus options, there are some accredited online physical therapy programs offered, more so at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on nature of the training, internships and clinical lab work are combined with the online classes. This requires that the student live near the college campus or nearby a sponsored internship. However, the online part of the course of study may be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Doney Park AZ residence. Online programs are not only to some extent more accessible, but in a number of instances more economical. Tuition can be somewhat less than similar on-campus alternatives, and expenses for commuting are minimized. And many of the online programs 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 attend classes at home.

Questions to Ask Physical Therapy Programs

At this point you undoubtedly have come to decision regarding some of your preliminary questions, such as the kind of physical therapist degree you intend to obtain, where you want to attend classes, and how much you can afford to invest in your education. But considering there are so many PT schools within the Doney Park AZ area and throughout Arizona, you'll need to research other qualifications as well in order to further reduce your list of school choices. Furthermore, you want to be sure that you select the program that is right for you. That's why we have compiled a list of essential questions that you need to ask the physical therapy programs you are reviewing. Ask all of the potential schools these questions before making a final selection.

Is the Physical Therapy School Accredited?  Find out if the programs you are reviewing have received accreditation from a regional or a national agency. As earlier mentioned, if you are pursuing a doctorate the program must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). If you enroll in an online school, it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's essential that both the physical therapy program and school you enroll in are accredited, not just the school. Also, verify that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Along with guaranteeing that you receive a quality education, accreditation may be mandated for state licensing as well as for securing student loans or financial aid.

What is the School's Ranking? Along with accreditation, it's imperative that the college and program you select have outstanding reputations within the physical therapy community. There are a number of ways you can look into a PT college's reputation, starting with asking for references from employers that they place their graduates with. You can also check online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Get in touch with a few Doney Park AZ physical therapist centers or other health care facilities that you might be interested in working for and ask if they can offer any advice 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 colleges.

What is the School's Job Placement Percentage? There are a two important statistics that you need to find out about all of the physical therapy colleges you are looking at. One is their graduation rate. A low rate might indicate that students left because of displeasure with the program, the teachers, or both. After the students have graduated, how many of them are being hired with the support of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Doney Park AZ area? If a program has a high job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the healthcare field is good or perhaps excellent. It also verifies that the college has a wide network of contacts to help students obtain internships or employment upon graduation.

Does the School Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's important that the school you choose furnishes both exceptional training and a curriculum that supports the licensing requirements 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) in addition to a degree from an accredited physical therapist program. While licensing requirements differ state by state for PTA and PT graduates, some states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be completed and passing scores on additional exams.

Are Internships Provided? Inquire if the physical therapist programs you are evaluating have partnerships with Doney Park AZ clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific manner to receive practical experience in a clinical environment, they are also a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they can help graduates and students form professional connections in the Doney Park health care community and assist with job placement after licensing.

What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of person that prefers to sit far in the back of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will probably want a smaller class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one 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 sit in on one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you a chance to converse with several of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the physical therapist program also.

Where is the College Located? For many students, the physical therapy college they decide on will need to be within driving distance of their Doney Park AZ home. Students who have decided to attend online classes obviously 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 decide to enroll in a school that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges usually charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges usually charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Help Provided? Most DPT colleges provide some form of financial aid to their potential students. Inquire if the schools you are reviewing have a financial aid department and find out what type of assistance is obtainable. At a minimum they should help in getting a student loan or any scholarships you might qualify for. A number of physical therapy schools offer scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before eliminating a school because the tuition is beyond your budget, find out what financial aid may be available.

Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must verify that the physical therapist college you finally choose can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you decide to continue working while attending classes. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Doney Park AZ area, make certain that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would have to carry. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of illness, work or family obligations.

Learn More About Doney Park Online Physical Therapy Schools

Choose the Best Doney Park Physical Therapist School

Picking the right physical therapy school is a necessary first decision you need to make to launch a gratifying career in the medical profession. As we have addressed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and college you decide on should both have exceptional reputations and be accredited. But there are additional critical questions that you should ask pertaining to your college of choice also. As you begin your search for a physical therapy program bear in mind that a number of variables will guide you toward your final decision. You may decide to go to different campuses to view their facilities and talk with current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this college help me reach my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By adhering to our list of supplemental questions, you will be able to narrow down the field so you can make the best selection. And with the proper training and education, you can fulfill your dream of becoming a licensed physical therapist in Doney Park Arizona.


 

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