How to Enroll In the Right Physical Therapist Training Program Near Douglas Arizona
Obtaining a physical therapist degree near Douglas AZ is an essential first step to beginning a fulfilling career in the healthcare industry. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been incapacitated as a result of illness or injury gain back mobility and function. But before they can practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they must obtain the necessary training and education. A PT must also become licensed in every state, many requiring that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So before choosing a physical therapy school, it's important to evaluate those you are looking at to ensure they will furnish a superior education and meet your state's licensing requirements. What you do not want to do is enroll in a school simply because it happens to be the closest to your residence or it has the lowest tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that must be evaluated besides cost and location. But before we talk about what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, we'll cover what a physical therapist does and what the educational options are.
What is a Physical Therapist?
Physical therapists practice in varying settings, such as Douglas AZ hospitals, health clinics, assisted living facilities, rehab centers 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 struggling with a lack of mobility and in many cases pain caused by injury or illness. After patient diagnosis, they create a program of treatment to resolve the mobility issues and lessen or eliminate any pain. They also endeavor to stop any progression of the disability. Although the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are numerous, they include:
- Osteoporosis and Arthritis
- Car or motor cycle accidents
- Head injuries
- Cardiac arrest
- Sports injuries
- Fire injuries
- Hip Replacement
- Cerebral Palsy
Licensed physical therapists work in close affiliation with other Douglas AZ medical specialists, including doctors, chiropractors, dentists and nurses. They may also oversee one or more physical therapy assistants who work for them in diagnosing and treating their patients. One thing to take note of for anyone considering entering the physical therapy field, it is quite 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 Therapy Degrees
There are three physical therapist degree options offered for students to enroll in at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these choices, the only degree that is attainable that qualifies the graduate to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees focus on either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or prepping them to advance to the doctoral level. Following are short explanations of degrees that are available to prospective students in the Douglas AZ area:
- Associate Degrees prepare students to be physical therapy assistants, or can be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Applicants must have obtained a high school diploma or GED to qualify for enrollment. The degrees are typically provided by community colleges, and take about two years for completion. An internship or other form of clinical training is typically a portion of the program.
- Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapist training to prepare candidates to progress to the doctoral level. Although they are not a requirement to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an important preliminary step to practicing as a PT. As with the majority of bachelor's degrees, they normally require 4 years to complete and often include an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
- Doctorate Degrees are required if you want to become a practicing licensed 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 complete, making the total commitment 7 years in the majority of cases. Clinical or practical training is an intregal element in addition to the substantial classroom and lab instruction. Therefor the completion of an internship is mandated, not just 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 USA. A number of licensed physical therapists holding a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the current licensing requirement for a doctorate was implemented.
Physical Therapy Online Schools
Although not as common as the on-campus options, there are a number of accredited online physical therapy programs available, more so at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on structure of the training, clinical lab work and internships are incorporated with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live close to the school campus or in proximity of an available internship. Fortunately, the online segment of the curriculum may be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Douglas AZ home. Online schools are not only to some extent more accessible, but in many instances more economical. Tuition may be significantly lower than comparable on-campus alternatives, 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 right choice for those students that are dedicated enough to learn at home.
Topics to Ask Physical Therapy Schools
At this point you probably have come to decision concerning a few of your preliminary queries, like the kind of physical therapist degree you would like to earn, where you want to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to invest in your education. But because there are so many PT colleges within the Douglas AZ area and throughout Arizona, you'll have to explore additional qualifications as well so as to further reduce your list of college choices. Also, you need to make sure that you select the school that is ideal for you. That's the reason we have compiled a list of critical questions that you must ask the physical therapist programs you are reviewing. Ask each of the potential colleges these questions before making an ultimate decision.
Is the Physical Therapist School Accredited? Find out if the schools you are reviewing have earned accreditation from a national or a regional agency. As previously stated, if you are pursuing a doctorate 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 receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's essential that both the physical therapist program and school you select are accredited, not simply the school. Also, check that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. In addition to guaranteeing that you obtain a quality education, accreditation might be required for state licensing as well as for securing student loans or financial assistance.
What is the School's Ranking? Along with accreditation, it's essential that the college and program you select have excellent reputations within the physical therapy community. There are a number of ways you can research a PT program's reputation, beginning with requesting references from employers that they refer their students to. You can also check online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Get in touch with several Douglas AZ physical therapist centers or other healthcare facilities that you may be interested in working for and ask if they can provide any advice about your college 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 colleges.
What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? There are a couple of relevant statistics that you should find out about all of the physical therapy schools you are looking at. One is their graduation rate. A lower rate might mean that students left due to dissatisfaction 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 Douglas AZ area? If a school has a higher job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the health care community is good or perhaps excellent. It also confirms that the school has a wide network of contacts to help students obtain internships or jobs after graduation.
Does the Program Support Licensing Requirements? It's important that the school you enroll in provides both excellent training and a course of study that satisfies the licensing requirements 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) as well as a degree from an accredited physical therapy college. Although licensing requirements fluctuate 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 supplemental exams.
Are Internships Offered? Ask if the physical therapy programs you are interested in have associations with Douglas AZ hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only a terrific manner to get practical training in a clinical environment, they are also a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they may help students and graduates establish 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 student that prefers to sit far in the back of class or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a small class size. Small classes permit more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapy colleges you are considering what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you a chance to converse with a few of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapy program as well.
Where is the Program Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapist school they pick will have to be within travelling distance of their Douglas AZ home. Those who have opted to attend online classes naturally will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. Something to keep in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a college that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges generally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges commonly charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Most DPT schools supply some type of financial aid to their prospective students. Find out if the colleges you are considering have a financial aid department and find out what kind of aid is offered. They at least should help in securing a student loan or any grants you might qualify for. A number of physical therapy colleges provide scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before you eliminate a school because the tuition is too expensive, find out what financial assistance may be available.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must confirm that the physical therapy college you ultimately choose can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you choose to continue working while attending school. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Douglas AZ area, verify that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, find out if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would need to carry. Also, find out what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of work, illness or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Douglas Physical Therapist School
Choosing the ideal physical therapy program is an important first decision you need to make to start a fulfilling career in the healthcare field. As we have discussed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and school you select should both have exceptional reputations and be accredited. But there are other important questions that you need to ask regarding your college of choice as well. As you begin your search for a physical therapist program keep in mind that numerous factors will guide you toward your final decision. You might want to visit different colleges to view their facilities and speak with active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this program help me reach my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By following our list of supplemental questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the field so you can make the right selection. And with the proper education and training, you can accomplish your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in Douglas Arizona.