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How to Enroll In the Right Physical Therapist College Near Doney Park Arizona

Doney Park Arizona physical therapist working with female patient holding balance ballGetting a physical therapy degree near Doney Park AZ is a critical first step to launching a rewarding career in the health care field. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been debilitated as a result of 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 obtain the appropriate training and education. A PT must also be licensed in every state, many requiring that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So before enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's important to investigate the ones you are considering to ensure they will furnish a superior education and comply with your state's licensing requirements. What you should not do is select a school just because it happens to be the nearest to your home or it has cheapest tuition. There are other significant qualifications that must be evaluated along with location and cost. But before we discuss 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 is a Physical Therapist?

Doney Park Arizona DPT helping woman to walk

Physical therapists work in a variety of settings, such as Doney Park AZ hospitals, health clinics, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and health clubs. What the facilities all have in common is that they are equipped for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As earlier touched on, physical therapists help individuals that are suffering from a lack of mobility and frequently pain due to injury or illness. After diagnosing a patient, they create a course of treatment to address the mobility issues and lessen or eradicate any pain. They also strive to prevent 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
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Fire injuries
  • Hip Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists work in close affiliation with other Doney Park AZ health specialists, including chiropractors, physicians, registered nurses and dentists. They can also oversee one or more physical therapy assistants who work under them in diagnosing and treating their patients. Something to keep in mind for anyone thinking about getting into the physical therapy profession, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists often lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and stand, crouch and kneel for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapist Degrees Offered

Doney Park Arizona DPT working with patient in pool

There are 3 physical therapy degree options available for students to pursue at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these options, the single degree that is available that qualifies the graduate to become 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 degree levels that are available to prospective students in the Doney Park AZ area:

  • Associate Degrees prepare students to be physical therapy assistants, or can be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Applicants must have obtained a high school diploma or equivalent to qualify for enrollment. The programs are typically made available by community colleges, and require 2 years for completion. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is typically a component of the curriculum.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapist education to ready students to move up to the doctoral level. While they are not required to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an essential preliminary step to becoming a PT. Similar to most bachelor's degrees, they generally require 4 years to finish and often include an internship program of at least 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are a requirement in order to become a practicing licensed 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 three years to complete, making the total commitment seven years in most cases. Clinical or practical training is an important component in addition to the extensive lab and classroom instruction. Consequently the completion of an internship is required, not solely for graduation but in some 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 available in the USA. Some practicing physical therapists having a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the current licensing mandate for a doctorate was instituted.

Physical Therapist Programs Online

Doney Park Arizona female student taking physical therapy courses onlineAlthough not as prevalent as the on-campus options, there are some accredited online physical therapist degrees available, even more at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on nature of the training, clinical lab work and internships are incorporated with the online classes. This requires that the student live near the college campus or in proximity of a sponsored internship. However, the online segment of the program may be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Doney Park AZ residence. Online schools are not only partially more accessible, but in a number of instances more economical. Tuition can be significantly lower than similar on campus options, and costs for commuting are reduced. And a number of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These advantages can make the online alternative the ideal choice for those students that are motivated enough to attend classes at home.

What to Ask Physical Therapy Colleges

At this point you undoubtedly have come to decision regarding some of your preliminary queries, such as the kind of physical therapy degree you intend to obtain, where you want to attend classes, and how much you can afford to spend for your education. But because there are numerous PT schools within the Doney Park AZ area and across Arizona, you'll need to look into additional qualifications as well so as to further reduce your list of school choices. Furthermore, you want to make certain that you choose the program that is right for you. That's why we have put together a list of critical questions that you must ask the physical therapy programs you are thinking about. Ask all of the potential schools these questions before making a final decision.

Is the Physical Therapist School Accredited?  Find out if the colleges you are considering have received accreditation from a regional or a national agency. As previously mentioned, if you are pursuing a doctoral degree the program must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). If you choose an online program, it can also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapy program and school you select are accredited, not simply the school. Also, check that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Along with ensuring that you receive a quality education, accreditation may be required for state licensing and even for securing student loans or financial assistance.

What is the College's Standing? In addition to accreditation, it's imperative that the school and program you choose have exceptional reputations within the physical therapist profession. There are a number of ways you can research a PT program's reputation, beginning with asking for references from employers that they refer their students to. You may also search for online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. Get in touch with several Doney Park AZ physical therapist centers or other healthcare 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 prudent to contact the Arizona Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been filed against the colleges.

What is the College'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 lower rate may mean that students left because of displeasure with the program, the instructors, or both. Once the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being hired with the support of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Doney Park AZ area? If a college has a higher job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the health care community is good or even excellent. It also affirms that the program has a broad network of contacts to assist students gain internships or jobs upon graduation.

Does the Program Support Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the school you select provides both excellent training and a course of study that satisfies the licensing requirements for Arizona or the state where you will be working. In every state a passing score is required on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapist college. While licensing requirements differ state by state for PT and PTA graduates, many states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be completed and passing scores on supplemental tests.

Are Internship Programs Offered? Find out if the physical therapy schools you are evaluating have partnerships with Doney Park AZ hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only a great means to receive practical training in a clinical setting, they are also a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they may help students and graduates develop professional connections in the Doney Park healthcare community and help with obtaining employment once licensed.

What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the type of student that likes to sit far in the back of class or hide in the crowd, you will likely prefer a smaller class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapist schools you are reviewing what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classes. 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 speak with some of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapist program as well.

Where is the College Located? For a number of students, the physical therapy college they choose will have to be within commuting distance of their Doney Park AZ residence. Individuals who have opted to attend online classes obviously will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. One thing to consider is that if you choose to enroll in a college that is out of state or even 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 typically 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 potential students. Ask if the colleges you are considering have a financial aid office and find out what kind of aid is offered. At a minimum they should help in securing 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 you eliminate a college because the tuition is beyond your budget, ask what financial assistance might be available.

Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to verify that the physical therapy college you ultimately select can provide the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you decide to continue working while attending school. If you must schedule night 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 alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would need to carry. Also, find out what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Learn More About Doney Park Physical Therapy Courses

Choose the Right Doney Park Physical Therapy School

Choosing the best physical therapy school is an important first decision you have to make to begin a rewarding career in the medical field. As we have covered in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and school you choose should both have excellent reputations and accreditation. However there are other critical questions that you should ask regarding your school of choice as well. As you start your search for a physical therapy program bear in mind that many factors will guide you to your final decision. You may want to go to each of the campuses to view their facilities and speak to current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this school help me achieve my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By following our list of supplemental questions, you will be able to narrow down the field so you can make the appropriate choice. And with the necessary training and education, you can accomplish your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in Doney Park Arizona.


 

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