How to Enroll In the Right Physical Therapy Degree Program Near Drexel Heights Arizona
Getting a physical therapy degree near Drexel Heights AZ is an important first step to beginning a fulfilling career in the healthcare industry. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been disabled as a result of illness or injury regain mobility and function. But before they may legally practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they need to acquire the appropriate education and training. A PT must additionally become licensed in all states, a large number mandating that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So before choosing a physical therapy school, it's important to investigate the ones you are considering to ensure they will supply a superior education and satisfy your state's licensing standards. What you do not want to do is select a college just because it happens to be the closest to your residence or it has cheapest tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that must be evaluated besides location and cost. But before we cover 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 Does a Physical Therapist Do?
Physical therapists practice in varying locations, such as Drexel Heights 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 stated, physical therapists help individuals that are struggling with a lack of mobility and frequently pain caused by illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they design a course of treatment to address the mobility problems and reduce or eradicate any pain. They also endeavor to stop any advancement of the disability. While the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are numerous, they include:
- Arthritis or Osteoporosis
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Cardiac arrest
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Fire injuries
- Knee Replacement
- Cerebral Palsy
Licensed physical therapists practice in close partnerships with other Drexel Heights AZ medical professionals, including doctors, chiropractors, registered nurses and dentists. They can also supervise several physical therapy assistants who work under them assisting with the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. Something to keep in mind for anyone considering entering the physical therapy field, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists often lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and kneel, crouch and stand for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapy Degrees
There are three physical therapist degree options available for individuals to enroll in at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these options, the single degree that is attainable that qualifies the graduate to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees emphasize either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or prepping them to progress to the doctoral level. Following are short descriptions of degrees that are offered to prospective students in the Drexel Heights AZ area:
- Associate Degrees prepare students to be physical therapy assistants, or can be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Candidates must have obtained a high school diploma or equivalent to qualify for enrollment. The programs are most often provided by community or junior colleges, and take about 2 years to complete. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is typically part of the curriculum.
- Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapy education to prep candidates to advance to the doctoral level. Although they are not a requirement to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an integral first step to becoming a PT. Similar to most bachelor's degrees, they normally require 4 years to finish and often incorporate an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
- Doctorate Degrees are mandated 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 3 years to complete, making the total commitment seven years in most cases. Clinical or practical training is an intregal component in addition to the substantial classroom and lab instruction. Therefor the completion of an internship is mandated, not solely for graduation but in some 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 attainable in the United States. Some licensed physical therapists having a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the existing licensing mandate for a doctorate was implemented.
Physical Therapy Programs Online
While not as common as the more traditional alternatives, there are some accredited online physical therapy programs available, more so at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on structure of the training, internships and clinical lab work are combined with the online classes. This requires that the student live near the college campus or nearby an available internship. Fortunately, the online segment of the course of study may 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 instances more economical. Tuition might be somewhat lower than comparable on campus alternatives, and expenditures for commuting are minimized. And many of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These benefits may make the online option the right choice for those students that are disciplined enough to attend classes at home.
Subjects to Ask Physical Therapy Schools
By now you probably have made a decision concerning some of your preliminary queries, such as the type of physical therapy 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 since there are numerous PT schools within the Drexel Heights AZ area and throughout Arizona, you'll have to look into additional qualifications as well in order to further reduce your list of college choices. Furthermore, you need to be sure that you select the program that is best for you. That's why we have compiled a list of important questions that you need to ask the physical therapist programs you are thinking about. Ask each of the competing colleges these questions prior to making an ultimate selection.
Is the Physical Therapy Program Accredited? Find out if the colleges you are looking at have earned accreditation from a national or a regional 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 enroll in an online program, it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's important that both the physical therapist program and school you choose are accredited, not just the school. Additionally, verify that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. In addition to guaranteeing that you receive an excellent education, accreditation might be mandated for state licensing as well as for getting student loans or financial aid.
What is the College's Reputation? In addition to accreditation, it's essential that the college and program you choose have excellent reputations within the physical therapy profession. There are multiple ways you can research a PT school's reputation, beginning with asking for references from employers that they refer their students to. You can also search for online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. Call several Drexel Heights AZ physical therapy centers or other healthcare facilities that you may have an interest in working for and ask if they can offer any recommendations about your program selections. It may also be prudent to check with 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 Percentage? There are a couple of useful statistics that you should know about each of the physical therapy schools you are looking at. First is their graduation rate. A low rate may indicate that students left because of dissatisfaction with the program, the instructors, or both. Once the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being placed in jobs with the support of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Drexel Heights AZ area? If a program has a higher job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the medical care field is good or perhaps outstanding. It also confirms that the college has a wide network of contacts to help students obtain internships or employment after graduation.
Does the Program Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's important that the program you select provides both superior training and a course of study that satisfies the licensing requirements for Arizona or the state where you will be practicing. In every state a passing score is required on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapy program. Although licensing requirements vary state by state for PTA and PT graduates, many states require a minimum number of clinical hours be completed as well as passing scores on supplemental tests.
Are Internship Programs Sponsored? Ask if the physical therapist programs you are evaluating have partnerships with Drexel Heights AZ hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific means to get hands on training in a clinical environment, they are also a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they can help students and graduates develop professional connections in the Drexel Heights healthcare community and assist with job placement after licensing.
How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of person that prefers to sit far in the rear of class or hide in the crowd, you will likely prefer a small class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapist schools you are looking at what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you a chance to talk with some of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the physical therapy program as well.
Where is the School Located? For a number of students, the physical therapist college they choose will have to be within travelling distance of their Drexel Heights AZ home. Those who have decided to attend classes online obviously will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of importance. Something to keep in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a school that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges generally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges generally charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.
Is Financial Help Provided? The majority of DPT schools supply some form of financial assistance to their potential students. Ask if the colleges you are reviewing have a financial assistance department and find out what kind of aid is obtainable. They at least should help in securing a student loan or any scholarships you may qualify for. A number of physical therapist colleges offer scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before you eliminate a school because the tuition is beyond your budget, learn what financial aid may be available.
Can the College 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 particularly important if you choose to continue working while attending school. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Drexel Heights AZ area, check 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 carry. Also, learn what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of illness, work or family obligations.
Enroll in the Best Drexel Heights Physical Therapist School
Deciding on the best physical therapist college is an important initial decision you need to make to launch a rewarding career in the health care profession. As we have covered in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and college you select should both have exceptional reputations and accreditation. However there are additional important questions that you need to ask regarding your college of choice as well. As you begin your search for a physical therapist school keep in mind that numerous factors will guide you toward your ultimate decision. You may want to visit different schools to see their facilities and speak with active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this school 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 field so you can make the right choice. And with the necessary education and training, you can accomplish your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in Drexel Heights Arizona.