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How to Choose the Right Physical Therapy Course Near Drexel Heights Arizona

Drexel Heights Arizona physical therapist working with female patient holding balance ballReceiving a physical therapy degree near Drexel Heights AZ is an essential first step to beginning a rewarding career in the health care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals 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 must receive the necessary training and education. A PT must additionally become licensed in all states, many mandating that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So before choosing a physical therapy school, it's necessary to investigate those you are thinking about to make sure they will supply a quality education and meet your state's licensing requirements. What you do not want to do is enroll in a college simply because it happens to be the nearest to your residence or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other important qualifications that need to be considered in addition to cost and location. But before we talk about what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, we'll address what a physical therapist does and the options for education.

What Do Physical Therapists Do?

Drexel Heights Arizona DPT assisting female patient to walk

Physical therapists practice in varying settings, such as Drexel Heights AZ private practices, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and health clubs. What the facilities all have in common is that they have the equipment for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As earlier touched on, physical therapists help people 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 address the mobility problems and lessen or eliminate any pain. They also strive to prevent any progression of the disability. While the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Osteoporosis and Arthritis
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Strokes
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Sports injuries
  • Burn injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists practice in close association with other Drexel Heights AZ health specialists, including doctors, chiropractors, registered nurses and dentists. They can also manage one or more physical therapy assistants who work under them in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. One thing to keep in mind for anyone thinking about going into the physical therapy field, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and stand, crouch and kneel for long periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degree Options

Drexel Heights Arizona DPT working with patient in pool

There are three physical therapist degrees offered for individuals to pursue at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these options, the one degree that is offered that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees focus on either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or prepping them to progress to the doctoral level. Following are brief summaries of degrees that are available to prospective students in the Drexel Heights 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. Applicants must have a high school diploma or equivalent to qualify for enrollment. The programs are usually offered by junior or community colleges, and take about 2 years to complete. An internship or other form of clinical training is normally a component of the course of study.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapist training to ready candidates to move up to the doctoral level. While they are not a requirement to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an essential first step to becoming a PT. Similar to most bachelor's degrees, they generally require 4 years to complete and often incorporate an internship program of at least 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are mandated in order 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 overall investment of time 7 years in most cases. Clinical training is an intregal component along with the extensive lab and classroom instruction. Consequently the completion of an internship is mandated, not solely for graduation but in several states for licensing also.

The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) has replaced the Master's of Physical Therapy (MPT), which has been phased out and is no longer offered in the United States. A number of practicing physical therapists having a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the existing licensing mandate for a doctorate was instituted.

Physical Therapy Online Degrees

Drexel Heights Arizona woman taking physical therapist courses onlineAlthough not as common as the more traditional alternatives, there are some accredited online physical therapist programs available, even more at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on structure of the training, clinical lab work and internships are combined with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live near the school campus or in proximity of a sponsored internship. However, the online portion of the program can be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Drexel Heights AZ residence. Online programs are not only to some extent more accessible, but in many cases more affordable. Tuition may be somewhat lower than similar on-campus options, and expenditures for commuting are reduced. And many of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These advantages may make the online alternative the right choice for those students that are motivated enough to learn at home.

What to Ask Physical Therapist Colleges

At this point you probably have come to decision regarding a few of your initial questions, including the type of physical therapist degree you want to attain, where you want to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to invest in your education. But since there are numerous PT colleges within the Drexel Heights AZ area and throughout Arizona, you'll have to look into other qualifications as well in order to further reduce your list of school options. Also, you need to make certain that you pick the school that is best for you. That's why we have compiled a list of critical questions that you must ask the physical therapist schools you are thinking about. Ask all of the competing schools these questions prior to making a final 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 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 choose an online college, it may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's essential that both the physical therapist program and school you enroll in are accredited, not just the school. Additionally, make sure that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Besides ensuring that you receive an excellent education, accreditation may be required for state licensing as well as for securing student loans or financial assistance.

What is the Program's Ranking? In addition to accreditation, it's important that the college and program you select have excellent reputations within the physical therapy profession. There are a number of ways you can investigate a PT program's reputation, beginning with requesting references from employers that they place their graduates with. You may also check online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. Contact some Drexel Heights AZ physical therapy clinics or other medical care facilities that you may have an interest in working for and ask if they can provide any advice about your college selections. It might also be a good idea to contact the Arizona Attorney General and school licensing authority to find out if any complaints have been submitted against the colleges.

What is the College's Job Placement Percentage? There are a two relevant statistics that you should find out about each of the physical therapy schools you are reviewing. One is their graduation rate. A lower rate may indicate that students dropped out due to displeasure with the program, the teachers, or both. After the students have graduated, how many of them are being placed in jobs with the help of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Drexel Heights AZ area? If a program has a high job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the healthcare community is good or even outstanding. It also confirms that the school has a broad network of contacts to help students get internships or jobs upon graduation.

Does the School Support Licensing Requirements? It's important that the program you select furnishes both exceptional training and a curriculum that satisfies the licensing criteria for Arizona or the state where you will be working. In each state a passing score is needed on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) as well as a degree from an accredited physical therapist school. Although licensing requirements vary state by state for PTA and PT graduates, many states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be performed as well as passing scores on additional exams.

Are Internship Programs Sponsored? Ask if the physical therapy schools you are evaluating have relationships with Drexel Heights AZ hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only a great way 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 can assist graduates and students form professional relationships in the Drexel Heights health care community and help with obtaining employment after licensing.

How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of student that likes to sit far in the rear of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a smaller class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapy colleges you are researching what the average student to teacher 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 a chance to speak with some of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapist program also.

Where is the Program Located? For a number of students, the physical therapy school they select will have to be within commuting distance of their Drexel Heights AZ residence. Students who have opted to attend classes online obviously will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. 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 may need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges generally 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 colleges supply some form of financial support to their prospective students. Ask if the colleges you are reviewing have a financial aid department and find out what type of help is offered. At a minimum they should help in getting a student loan or any grants you might qualify for. Some physical therapy colleges offer scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before you eliminate a college because the tuition is too expensive, find out what financial aid might be available.

Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to verify that the physical therapy school you finally pick can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you choose to continue working while you attend classes. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Drexel Heights AZ area, confirm that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, check if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would need to carry. Also, learn what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Learn More About Drexel Heights Online Physical Therapy Schools

Enroll in the Right Drexel Heights Physical Therapy School

Choosing the best physical therapy school is a necessary initial decision you have to make to start a fulfilling career in the health care profession. As we have addressed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and college you decide on should both have excellent reputations and be accredited. However there are other important questions that you should ask concerning your college of choice as well. As you start your search for a physical therapist school bear in mind that many variables will lead you to your ultimate decision. You might want to go to each of the colleges to see their facilities and talk with current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this program help me achieve my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By following our list of additional questions, you will be able to narrow down the options so you can make the best choice. And with the proper education and training, you can achieve your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in Drexel Heights Arizona.


 

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