How to Find the Right Physical Therapy Degree Program Near Doney Park Arizona
Obtaining a physical therapist degree near Doney Park AZ is an essential first step to beginning a rewarding career in the healthcare industry. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been incapacitated 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 receive the proper education and training. A PT must also become licensed in all states, many requiring that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So before choosing a physical therapy school, it's important to research those you are considering to ensure they will furnish a superior education and meet your state's licensing standards. What you should not do is select a school simply because it happens to be the closest to your residence or it has cheapest tuition. There are other important qualifications that need to be evaluated along with location and cost. 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 Does a Physical Therapist Do?
Physical therapists practice in varying locations, such as Doney Park AZ private practices, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes 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 mentioned, physical therapists help patients that are suffering from a lack of mobility and in many cases pain due to injury or illness. After patient diagnosis, they design a program of treatment to address the mobility problems and reduce or eliminate any pain. They also strive to prevent any progression of the disability. While the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are abundant, they include:
- Arthritis or Osteoporosis
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Cardiac arrest
- Sports injuries
- Fire injuries
- Hip Replacement
- Cerebral Palsy
Licensed physical therapists work in close partnerships with other Doney Park AZ medical professionals, including chiropractors, physicians, dentists and nurses. They may also supervise one or more physical therapy assistants who work under them assisting with diagnosing and treating their patients. One thing to bear in mind for anyone thinking about going into the physical therapy field, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists routinely lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and stand, crouch and kneel for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapist Degree Options
There are 3 physical therapist degrees offered for individuals to enroll in at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these options, the only degree that is available that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees emphasize either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or prepping them to progress to the doctoral level. Following are short explanations of degree levels that are offered to prospective students in the Doney Park AZ area:
- Associate Degrees educate students to be physical therapy assistants, or may be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Candidates must have earned a high school diploma or GED to qualify for enrollment. The degrees are most often offered by junior or community colleges, and require two years to complete. An internship or other form of clinical training is typically part of the program.
- Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapist education to prepare students to move up to the doctoral level. Although they are not a requirement to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an integral preliminary step to practicing as a PT. Similar to the majority of bachelor's degrees, they generally require 4 years to finish and often include an internship program of a minimum of 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 seven years in the majority of cases. Clinical or practical training is an essential component in addition to the substantial classroom and lab instruction. Consequently the fulfillment of an internship is mandated, not only 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 attainable in the USA. A number of 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 Therapy Online Schools
While not as prevalent as the more traditional options, there are some accredited online physical therapy programs 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 necessitates that the student live near the college campus or nearby a sponsored internship. However, the online part of the curriculum can be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Doney Park AZ home. Online programs are not only partially more accessible, but in a number of cases more economical. Tuition can be significantly less than similar on campus alternatives, and expenditures for commuting are reduced. And a number of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These advantages can make the online alternative the ideal choice for those students that are dedicated enough to learn at home.
Subjects to Ask Physical Therapist Schools
By now you undoubtedly have come to decision regarding some of your initial queries, like the kind of physical therapy degree you intend to attain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to spend for your education. But because there are so many PT colleges within the Doney Park AZ area and across Arizona, you'll need to research other qualifications also so as to further narrow your list of school options. Furthermore, you need to make sure that you pick the school that is ideal for you. That's why we have put together a list of essential questions that you need to ask the physical therapy programs you are considering. Ask each of the competing colleges these questions before making an ultimate selection.
Is the Physical Therapy College Accredited? Ask if the colleges you are considering have received accreditation from a regional or a national 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 choose an online program, it may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's important that both the physical therapy program and school you select are accredited, not simply the school. Also, check that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Along with guaranteeing that you receive a quality education, accreditation might be mandated for state licensing and even for securing student loans or financial assistance.
What is the School's Reputation? Along with accreditation, it's essential that the school and program you select have excellent reputations within the physical therapy community. There are a number of ways you can look into a PT program's reputation, starting with asking for references from employers that they refer their students to. You may also check online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Contact some Doney Park AZ physical therapy centers or other healthcare facilities that you might be interested in working for and ask if they can give you any advice about your program selections. It may also be prudent to contact the Arizona Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been submitted against the schools.
What is the School's Job Placement Rate? There are a two relevant statistics that you should know about each of the physical therapy colleges you are looking at. One is their graduation rate. A lower rate may mean that students dropped out because of dissatisfaction with the program, the instructors, or both. After the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being hired with the assistance of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Doney Park AZ area? If a college has a higher job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the healthcare community is good or even excellent. It also confirms that the school has a broad network of contacts to help students obtain internships or jobs upon graduation.
Does the College Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the college you enroll in provides both superior training and a curriculum that satisfies the licensing criteria 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) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapy program. While licensing requirements differ state by state for PT and PTA graduates, some states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be completed and passing scores on additional exams.
Are Internship Programs Offered? Ask if the physical therapist schools you are evaluating have partnerships with Doney Park AZ clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a great manner to obtain practical experience in a clinical setting, they are also a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they may help students and graduates establish professional relationships in the Doney Park health care community and help with job placement once licensed.
How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of student that prefers to sit way in the rear of class or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a small class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapist colleges you are reviewing what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to sit in on one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you an opportunity to speak with a few of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the physical therapist program as well.
Where is the School Located? For a number of students, the physical therapist college they choose will need to be within travelling distance of their Doney Park 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 local internships will be of importance. Something to keep in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a college that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you may have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges typically charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges commonly charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.
Is Financial Help Provided? The majority of DPT schools supply some type of financial aid to their potential students. Inquire if the colleges you are looking at have a financial assistance department and find out what type of assistance is obtainable. They at least should help in acquiring a student loan or any scholarships you may be eligible for. Some physical therapy schools offer scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before eliminating a college because the tuition is beyond your budget, find out what financial assistance may be available.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must confirm that the physical therapy college you finally pick can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you opt to continue working while you attend classes. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Doney Park AZ area, check 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 carry. Also, learn what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss due to illness, work or family obligations.
Enroll in the Right Doney Park Physical Therapy School
Choosing the ideal physical therapist program is an important first decision you must make to launch a gratifying career in the healthcare profession. As we have discussed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and school you enroll in should both have outstanding reputations and accreditation. But there are additional important questions that you need to ask regarding your college of choice also. As you begin your search for a physical therapist program bear in mind that many factors will guide you to your final decision. You might decide to go to each of the campuses to see their facilities and speak to active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this program help me reach my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By adhering to our list of additional questions, you will be able to narrow down the field so you can make the best selection. And with the necessary education and training, you can accomplish your dream of becoming a licensed physical therapist in Doney Park Arizona.