How to Select the Right Physical Therapist Course Near Douglas Arizona
Earning a physical therapist degree near Douglas AZ is an important first step to beginning a rewarding career in the health care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been incapacitated due to injury or illness gain back mobility and function. But before they can practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they must get the necessary education and training. A PT must additionally be licensed in every state, many mandating that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So before selecting a physical therapy school, it's essential to research the ones you are looking at to make sure they will supply a superior education and meet your state's licensing requirements. 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 significant qualifications that need to be evaluated along with cost and location. But before we discuss what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, we'll cover what a physical therapist does and the options for education.
What is a Physical Therapist's Job Description?
Physical therapists practice in a variety of locations, including Douglas AZ hospitals, health clinics, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and sports facilities. What the facilities all have in common is that they are equipped for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As earlier touched on, physical therapists help individuals that are struggling with a lack of mobility and frequently pain due to injury or illness. After patient diagnosis, they create a program of treatment to deal with the mobility issues and lessen or eliminate any pain. They also try to stop any progression of the disability. While the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are numerous, they include:
- Osteoporosis and Arthritis
- Car or motor cycle accidents
- Heart attacks
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Burn injuries
- Hip Replacement
- Cerebral Palsy
Licensed physical therapists practice in close affiliation with other Douglas AZ medical professionals, including doctors, chiropractors, dentists and nurses. They may also oversee several physical therapy assistants who work under them in diagnosing and treating their patients. Something to bear in mind for anyone thinking about getting into the physical therapy profession, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift patients and heavy equipment, and stand, crouch and kneel for long periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapist Degrees Available
There are three physical therapy degree options available for students to enroll in at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these alternatives, the one degree that is available that qualifies the graduate to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees target either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or readying them to progress to the doctoral level. Following are short descriptions of degrees that are available to prospective students in the Douglas AZ area:
- Associate Degrees educate students to be physical therapy assistants, or may be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Applicants must have a high school diploma or equivalent to be accepted for enrollment. The programs are most often offered by community or junior colleges, and require 2 years for completion. An internship or other form of clinical training is usually a portion of the program.
- Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapy education to prep students to move up to the doctoral level. Although they are not a requirement to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an essential first step to practicing as a PT. Similar to the majority of bachelor's degrees, they normally take 4 years to finish and commonly incorporate an internship program of at least 500 hours.
- Doctorate Degrees are mandated if you want to become a licensed practicing physical therapist. The degree program also must 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 total commitment 7 years in most cases. Practical or clinical training is an intregal component in addition to the extensive lab and classroom instruction. Consequently the completion of an internship is required, 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 available in the United States. Some practicing physical therapists holding 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 Online Colleges
While not as prevalent as the on-campus options, there are some accredited online physical therapist degrees offered, more so at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on nature of the training, internships and clinical lab work are integrated with the online classes. This requires that the student live near the college campus or nearby a sponsored internship. However, the online portion of the program can be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Douglas AZ home. Online schools are not only partially more accessible, but in many cases more affordable. Tuition might be significantly less than similar on campus options, and costs for commuting are minimized. And many of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These advantages can make the online alternative the right choice for those students that are disciplined enough to learn at home.
What to Ask Physical Therapy Programs
At this point you undoubtedly have come to decision concerning some of your preliminary questions, like the kind of physical therapist degree you would like to obtain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to spend for your education. But because there are numerous PT colleges within the Douglas AZ area and across Arizona, you'll need to look into additional qualifications as well so as to further reduce your list of college choices. Furthermore, you want to make sure that you pick the college that is ideal for you. That's why we have compiled a list of essential questions that you must ask the physical therapist programs you are thinking about. Ask all of the competing colleges these questions prior to making a final decision.
Is the Physical Therapy School Accredited? Ask if the colleges you are considering have received accreditation from a national or a regional agency. As previously mentioned, 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 may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapy program and school you choose are accredited, not just the school. Also, check that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Along with ensuring that you obtain an excellent education, accreditation might be required for state licensing as well as for getting student loans or financial aid.
What is the Program's Reputation? In addition to accreditation, it's important that the school and program you pick have outstanding reputations within the physical therapy community. There are a number of ways you can investigate a PT college's reputation, beginning with asking for references from employers that they refer their students to. You can also check online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Get in touch with some Douglas AZ physical therapy centers or other health care facilities that you might be interested in working for and ask if they can offer any insight about your college selections. It may also be prudent to check with the Arizona Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been filed against the colleges.
What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? There are a two important statistics that you need to find out about all of the physical therapy colleges you are reviewing. One is their graduation rate. A low rate may indicate that students left due to dissatisfaction with the program, the instructors, 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 Douglas AZ area? If a program has a higher job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the healthcare field is good or even excellent. It also verifies that the program has a broad network of contacts to help students gain internships or employment after graduation.
Does the College Support Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the program you select provides both excellent 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 needed on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) in addition to a degree from an accredited physical therapist college. While licensing requirements vary state by state for PT and PTA graduates, many states require a minimum number of clinical hours be completed and passing scores on supplemental tests.
Are Internships Sponsored? Ask if the physical therapy schools you are evaluating have partnerships with Douglas AZ clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships an excellent way to obtain 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 can help graduates and students develop professional relationships in the Douglas medical community and assist with job placement after licensing.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of student that prefers to sit far in the rear of class or get lost in the crowd, you will probably prefer a small class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapist schools you are looking at 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 final decision. This will also give you an opportunity to converse with a few of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the physical therapist program as well.
Where is the Program Located? For a number of students, the physical therapist college they select will need to be within commuting distance of their Douglas AZ home. Those who have chosen to attend classes online obviously will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. Something to bear in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a program that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you may have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges normally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges usually charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.
Is Financial Help Provided? Most DPT colleges offer some type of financial assistance to their potential students. Inquire if the schools you are considering have a financial assistance department and see what type of help is available. At a minimum they should help in obtaining a student loan or any scholarships you might qualify for. A number of physical therapist colleges offer scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before you eliminate a program because the tuition is beyond your budget, ask what financial aid might be available.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must confirm that the physical therapy college you finally pick can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you choose to continue working while attending school. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Douglas AZ area, confirm 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 have to enroll in. Also, learn what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss due to work, illness or family obligations.
Choose the Right Douglas Physical Therapy School
Selecting the ideal physical therapist school is a necessary first decision you need to make to start a fulfilling career in the healthcare profession. As we have covered in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and college you pick should both have outstanding reputations and be accredited. But there are additional important questions that you need to ask concerning your college of choice also. As you begin your search for a physical therapy college bear in mind that a number of variables will guide you to your final decision. You might decide to go to different campuses to see their facilities and speak with active 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 additional questions, you will be able to narrow down the options so you can make the best selection. And with the proper training and education, you can achieve your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in Douglas Arizona.