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How to Find the Right Physical Therapist Training Program Near Douglas Arizona

Douglas Arizona physical therapist working with female patient holding balance ballGetting a physical therapy degree near Douglas AZ is an essential first step to launching a rewarding career in the health care field. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been incapacitated due to illness or injury regain function and mobility. But before they can practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they need to get the necessary 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 school. So prior to enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's essential to research those you are considering to make certain they will provide a quality education and comply with your state's licensing criteria. What you do not want to do is select a college simply 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 considered besides location and cost. But before we talk about what those qualifications are and the questions you should be asking, we'll cover what a physical therapist does and what the educational options are.

What Do Physical Therapists Do?

Douglas Arizona DPT helping female patient to walk

Physical therapists practice in a variety of locations, including Douglas AZ hospitals, health clinics, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and health clubs. What the facilities all share in common is that they are equipped for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As earlier mentioned, physical therapists help individuals that are suffering from a lack of mobility and frequently pain due to illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they create a course of treatment to resolve the mobility problems and reduce or eliminate any pain. They also endeavor to prevent any progression of the disability. Though the causes of disability necessitating 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 work in close association with other Douglas AZ health specialists, including chiropractors, physicians, registered nurses and dentists. They may also oversee several physical therapy assistants who work under them in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. Something to take note of for anyone considering entering the physical therapy field, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift patients and heavy equipment, and kneel, crouch and stand for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degrees Available

Douglas Arizona DPT working with man in pool

There are three physical therapist degrees available for students to enroll in at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these alternatives, the single 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 advance to the doctoral level. Following are brief summaries of degree levels that are available to prospective students in the Douglas AZ area:

  • Associate Degrees train students to practice as physical therapy assistants, or can be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Candidates must have a high school diploma or equivalent to qualify for enrollment. The programs are most often provided by junior or community colleges, and take about two 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 prepare students to advance 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 normally take four years to finish and often 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). In addition to the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes three years to finish, making the overall commitment seven years in most cases. Practical or clinical training is an essential element along with the considerable lab and classroom instruction. Consequently 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 phased out and is no longer attainable in the United States. Some licensed physical therapists having a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the current licensing mandate for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapy Online Programs

Douglas Arizona woman taking physical therapist courses onlineWhile not as prevalent as the on-campus options, there are some accredited online physical therapist programs available, more so at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on structure of the training, clinical lab work and internships are integrated with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live close to the school campus or in proximity of a sponsored internship. Fortunately, the online segment of the course of study may be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Douglas AZ residence. Online programs are not only to some extent more accessible, but in a number of cases more affordable. Tuition may be somewhat lower than similar on-campus options, and expenditures for commuting are minimized. And many of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These advantages may make the online option the best choice for those students that are disciplined enough to learn at home.

What to Ask Physical Therapy Programs

By now you probably have come to decision concerning several of your preliminary queries, such as the kind of physical therapist degree you would like to obtain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much you can afford to spend for your education. But since there are so many PT colleges within the Douglas AZ area and throughout Arizona, you'll have to look into additional qualifications also in order to further narrow your list of college choices. Moreover, you want to be sure that you enroll in the school that is best 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 thinking about. Ask all of the competing colleges these questions prior to making a final selection.

Is the Physical Therapist Program Accredited?  Find out if the programs you are looking at have received accreditation from a regional or a national agency. As previously 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 select an online program, it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapist school and program you select are accredited, not just the school. Additionally, make sure that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Along with guaranteeing that you receive an excellent education, accreditation may be required for state licensing as well as for getting student loans or financial assistance.

What is the College's Reputation? In addition to accreditation, it's important that the school and program you pick have exceptional reputations within the physical therapy community. There are several ways you can investigate a PT program's reputation, beginning with asking for references from employers that they place their graduates with. You may also check online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. Contact several Douglas AZ physical therapy clinics or other medical care facilities that you might be interested in working for and ask if they can provide any advice about your school options. It might also be prudent to contact the Arizona Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been submitted against the colleges.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? There are a couple of important statistics that you should find out about all of the physical therapy programs you are reviewing. One is their graduation rate. A low rate might indicate that students dropped out due to displeasure with the program, the teachers, or both. Once the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being placed in jobs with the help of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Douglas AZ area? If a college has a higher job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the medical care community is good or perhaps exceptional. It also affirms that the college has a wide network of contacts to assist students obtain internships or jobs after graduation.

Does the School Support Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the school you choose provides both superior training and a curriculum that satisfies the licensing criteria for Arizona or the state where you will be working. In every state a passing score is needed on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) as well as a degree from an accredited physical therapy college. While licensing requirements differ state by state for PT and PTA graduates, some states require a minimum number of clinical hours be performed as well as passing scores on additional exams.

Are Internships Provided? Inquire if the physical therapy colleges you are reviewing have relationships with Douglas AZ clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only a great manner to receive hands on experience in a clinical environment, they are additionally a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they may assist graduates and students form professional connections in the Douglas health care community and help with job placement once licensed.

How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of person that likes to sit way in the back of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will probably prefer a smaller class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapy colleges you are considering what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you a chance to speak with a few of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapy program as well.

Where is the College Located? For a number of students, the physical therapist school they choose will need to be within travelling distance of their Douglas AZ residence. Individuals who have opted to attend online classes obviously will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. Something to consider is that if you choose to enroll in a school that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might 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 to those students that live outside of their districts.

Is Financial Assistance Offered? The majority of DPT schools provide some form of financial aid to their prospective students. Ask if the colleges you are examining have a financial assistance department and see what kind of aid is offered. At a minimum they should help in getting a student loan or any grants you might qualify for. A number of physical therapy colleges offer scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before you eliminate a program because the tuition is too expensive, find out what financial aid may be available.

Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to confirm that the physical therapist college you ultimately pick can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you decide to continue working while you attend school. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Douglas AZ area, make sure that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, find out if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would have to enroll in. Also, find out what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss due to work, illness or family obligations.

Find Out More About Douglas Physical Therapist Training

Choose the Right Douglas Physical Therapy School

Picking the best physical therapy college is a necessary initial decision you must make to start a gratifying career in the healthcare field. As we have addressed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and college you decide on should both have excellent reputations and accreditation. But there are other important questions that you need to ask pertaining to your college of choice as well. As you commence your search for a physical therapist program bear in mind that many factors will lead you to your final decision. You may want to go to each of the schools to view their facilities and talk to current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical 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 options so you can make the right selection. And with the proper training and education, you can achieve your dream to become a licensed physical therapist in Douglas Arizona.


 

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