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How to Select the Right Physical Therapy School Near Douglas Arizona

Douglas Arizona physical therapist working with woman using exercise ballEarning a physical therapist degree near Douglas AZ is an important first step to beginning a rewarding career in the healthcare industry. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been disabled due to injury or illness regain mobility and function. But before they can practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they need to obtain the necessary training and education. A PT must also become licensed in all states, many mandating that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So before choosing a physical therapy school, it's essential to investigate those you are thinking about to make sure they will supply a superior education and comply with your state's licensing criteria. What you do not want to do is enroll in a school just because it happens to be the closest 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 address what a physical therapist does and what the educational options are.

What is a Physical Therapist's Job Description?

Douglas Arizona DPT assisting female patient to walk

Physical therapists practice in a variety of settings, such as Douglas AZ private practices, hospitals, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and health clubs. What the facilities all have in common is that they have the equipment for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As earlier touched on, physical therapists help patients that are suffering from 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 lessen or eliminate any pain. They also strive to prevent any advancement of the disability. While 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
  • Hip Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Cerebral Palsy

Licensed physical therapists work in close association with other Douglas AZ health specialists, including chiropractors, physicians, dentists and nurses. They may also oversee several physical therapy assistants who work under them in diagnosing and treating their patients. Something to take note of for anyone considering going into the physical therapy field, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists routinely lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and stand, crouch and kneel for long periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapist Degree Options

Douglas Arizona DPT working with patient in pool

There are 3 physical therapist degree options offered for students to enroll in at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these choices, the one degree that is offered that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees focus on either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or readying them to progress to the doctoral level. Following are short summaries of degrees that are available to prospective students in the Douglas AZ area:

  • Associate Degrees train students to be physical therapy assistants, or may be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Candidates must have a high school diploma or GED to be accepted for enrollment. The degrees are usually offered by junior or community colleges, and require two years for completion. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is normally part of the program.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapy training to ready candidates to progress to the doctoral level. While they are not required to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an important first step to practicing as a PT. As with most bachelor's degrees, they normally take four years to finish and often include an internship program of at least 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are a requirement if you want 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 finish, making the total investment of time 7 years in most cases. Clinical training is an important element along with the extensive classroom and lab instruction. Therefor the fulfillment of an internship is required, not just for graduation but in a number of states for licensing as well.

The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) has taken the place of the Master's of Physical Therapy (MPT), which has been eliminated and is no longer offered in the United States. A number of licensed physical therapists having 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 Programs Online

Douglas Arizona woman taking physical therapy training onlineAlthough not as common as the more traditional options, there are a number of accredited online physical therapy programs available, more so at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on nature of the training, internships and clinical lab work are incorporated with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live near the school campus or nearby an available internship. Fortunately, the online part of the program may be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Douglas AZ home. Online schools are not only partially more accessible, but in a number of cases more economical. Tuition can be significantly lower than similar on-campus options, and expenses for commuting are minimized. And many of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These advantages can make the online alternative the best choice for those students that are motivated enough to learn at home.

Subjects to Ask Physical Therapy Colleges

By now you undoubtedly have made a decision concerning a few of your preliminary queries, including the type of physical therapist degree you intend to attain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much you can afford to invest in your education. But since there are so many PT colleges within the Douglas AZ area and across Arizona, you'll need to research other qualifications as well so as to further narrow your list of school choices. Also, you want to make certain that you pick the program that is ideal for you. That's the reason we have compiled a list of essential questions that you must ask the physical therapy colleges you are considering. Ask each of the competing colleges these questions before making an ultimate decision.

Is the Physical Therapist Program Accredited?  Ask if the colleges you are considering have received accreditation from a national or a regional organization. As earlier stated, if you are pursuing a doctoral degree the program must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). If you enroll in an online school, it can also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's important that both the physical therapy program and school you choose are accredited, not simply the school. Additionally, make sure that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. In addition to ensuring that you obtain an excellent education, accreditation might be required for state licensing and even for getting student loans or financial aid.

What is the College's Ranking? In addition to accreditation, it's essential that the college and program you choose have exceptional reputations within the physical therapy profession. There are several ways you can investigate a PT program's reputation, beginning with requesting references from employers that they refer their students to. You may also search for online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. Contact several Douglas AZ physical therapist clinics or other medical care facilities that you may have an interest in working for and ask if they can give you any advice about your school selections. It might also be prudent to contact the Arizona Attorney General and school licensing authority to find out if any complaints have been filed against the colleges.

What is the School's Job Placement Percentage? There are a two significant statistics that you need to find out about all of the physical therapy programs you are looking at. One is their graduation rate. A low rate may suggest that students dropped out because of displeasure with the program, the instructors, or both. After the students have graduated, how many of them are being placed in jobs 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 medical care community is good or even excellent. It also verifies that the college has a wide network of contacts to help students gain internships or employment upon graduation.

Does the Program Support Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the program you choose furnishes both excellent training and a course of study 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) in addition to a degree from an accredited physical therapy program. While licensing requirements vary state by state for PT and PTA graduates, many states require a minimum number of clinical hours be performed as well as passing scores on additional tests.

Are Internships Offered? Find out if the physical therapist colleges you are interested in have associations with Douglas AZ clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only a great way to get practical training in a clinical setting, they are additionally a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they can help graduates and students form professional connections in the Douglas healthcare community and help with job placement after licensing.

How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of student that prefers to sit way in the rear of class or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a smaller class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapy schools you are reviewing what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you a chance to talk with some of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapy program also.

Where is the College Located? For a number of students, the physical therapist school they decide on will have to be within driving distance of their Douglas AZ residence. Individuals who have chosen 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 consider is that if you decide to enroll in a school that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges typically charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges normally charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.

Is Financial Support Provided? The majority of DPT schools provide some type of financial assistance to their potential students. Inquire if the schools you are reviewing have a financial assistance department and see what kind of assistance is offered. They at least should help in obtaining a student loan or any scholarships you may be eligible for. Some physical therapist schools offer scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before you eliminate a program because the tuition is too expensive, learn what financial aid may be available.

Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must confirm that the physical therapist school you ultimately pick can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you decide to continue working while you attend school. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Douglas AZ area, confirm that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, find out if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would need to enroll in. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss as a result of work, illness or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Douglas Online Physical Therapist Training

Enroll in the Best Douglas Physical Therapist School

Selecting the right physical therapy program is an important initial decision you need to make to launch a rewarding career in the health care profession. As we have discussed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and college you decide on should both have exceptional reputations and be accredited. But there are other relevant questions that you need to ask regarding your college of choice as well. As you begin your search for a physical therapy program keep in mind that many variables will lead you toward your final decision. You might decide to go to each of the colleges to view their facilities and speak with active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this program help me reach my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By adhering to our list of additional questions, you will be able to narrow down the field so you can make the right choice. And with the proper training and education, you can fulfill your dream of becoming a practicing physical therapist in Douglas Arizona.


 

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