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How to Enroll In the Right Physical Therapist College Near Drexel Heights Arizona

Drexel Heights Arizona physical therapist working with woman holding exercise ballReceiving a physical therapy degree near Drexel Heights AZ is an important first step to beginning a fulfilling career in the medical care field. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been incapacitated as a result of injury or illness gain back function and mobility. But before they can practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they must acquire the necessary education and training. A PT must also become licensed in every state, many mandating that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So before choosing a physical therapy school, it's essential to investigate those you are considering to make sure they will supply a quality education and meet your state's licensing requirements. What you do not want to do is choose a school just because it happens to be the closest to your residence or it has the lowest tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that need to be evaluated besides 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 Does a Physical Therapist Do?

Drexel Heights Arizona DPT helping woman to walk

Physical therapists work in diverse settings, including Drexel Heights AZ hospitals, health clinics, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and sports facilities. What the facilities all have in common is that they have the equipment for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As earlier stated, physical therapists help patients that are struggling with a lack of mobility and in many cases pain due to illness or injury. After patient diagnosis, they create a program of treatment to resolve the mobility issues and reduce or eliminate any pain. They also endeavor to prevent any progression of the disability. Though the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Car or motor cycle accidents
  • Head injuries
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Sports injuries
  • Fire injuries
  • Hip Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists work in close partnerships with other Drexel Heights 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 keep in mind for anyone considering going into the physical therapy profession, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists often lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and kneel, crouch and stand for long periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapist Degrees Offered

Drexel Heights Arizona DPT working with man in pool

There are three physical therapist degree options offered for individuals to pursue at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these alternatives, the only degree that is available that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees target either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or preparing them to advance to the doctoral level. Below are brief descriptions of degrees that are offered to prospective students in the Drexel Heights AZ area:

  • Associate Degrees educate students to practice as physical therapy assistants, or may be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Candidates must have earned a high school diploma or GED to be accepted for enrollment. The programs are most often offered by community or junior colleges, and require two years to complete. An internship or other form of clinical training is usually a portion of the program.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapist training to prepare students to move up to the doctoral level. While they are not a requirement to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an integral preliminary step to practicing as 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 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 3 years to finish, making the total investment of time 7 years in the majority of cases. Clinical training is an important component in addition to the extensive classroom and lab instruction. Consequently the completion of an internship is required, not just for graduation but in a number of states for licensing also.

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 practicing physical therapists holding a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the present licensing requirement for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapist Online Colleges

Drexel Heights Arizona woman taking physical therapy courses onlineAlthough not as prevalent as the on campus alternatives, there are some accredited online physical therapy degrees offered, 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 necessitates that the student live close to the school campus or nearby a sponsored internship. Fortunately, the online segment of the program can be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Drexel Heights AZ residence. Online programs are not only to some extent more accessible, but in a number of cases more affordable. Tuition might be significantly lower than comparable on-campus alternatives, and expenses for commuting are minimized. And many of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These advantages may make the online alternative the right choice for those students that are disciplined enough to learn at home.

What to Ask Physical Therapy Schools

At this point you most likely have come to decision concerning some of your initial questions, like the kind of physical therapist degree you intend to obtain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much you can afford to spend for your education. But considering there are numerous PT schools within the Drexel Heights AZ area and throughout Arizona, you'll need to explore additional qualifications as well in order to further reduce your list of school choices. Moreover, you need to be sure that you enroll in the program that is right for you. That's why we have compiled a list of important questions that you must ask the physical therapist colleges you are considering. Ask each of the competing colleges these questions before making a final selection.

Is the Physical Therapy College Accredited?  Ask if the programs you are looking at have earned accreditation from a regional or a national agency. As earlier stated, if you are pursuing a doctorate the program must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). If you select an online college, it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's important that both the physical therapy school and program you choose are accredited, not simply the school. Also, make sure that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. In addition to ensuring that you obtain a quality education, accreditation may be required for state licensing as well as for getting student loans or financial assistance.

What is the College's Ranking? In addition to accreditation, it's important that the school and program you pick have outstanding reputations within the physical therapist community. There are several ways you can investigate a PT program's reputation, starting with asking for references from employers that they refer their students to. You can also check online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. Contact several Drexel Heights AZ physical therapist clinics or other healthcare facilities that you may be interested in working for and ask if they can give you any advice about your college options. It might also be a good idea to check with the Arizona Attorney General and school licensing authority to find out if any complaints have been filed against the schools.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? There are a couple of important statistics that you should know about all of the physical therapist colleges you are considering. First is their graduation rate. A lower 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 assistance of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Drexel Heights AZ area? If a school has a high job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the health care community is good or even outstanding. It also verifies that the college has a wide network of contacts to assist students gain internships or jobs after graduation.

Does the School Support Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the school you enroll in 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) in addition to a degree from an accredited physical therapist school. Although licensing requirements differ state by state for PT and PTA graduates, a number of states require a minimum number of clinical hours be completed as well as passing scores on supplemental exams.

Are Internship Programs Sponsored? Find out if the physical therapy colleges you are evaluating have partnerships with Drexel Heights AZ hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific way to obtain practical experience in a clinical setting, they are also a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they can help graduates and students form professional relationships in the Drexel Heights medical community and assist with job placement after licensing.

What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of person that likes to sit way in the back of class or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a smaller class size. Smaller classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapy colleges you are looking at 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 final determination. This will also give you an opportunity to speak with several of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the physical therapy program as well.

Where is the Program Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapist school they decide on will need to be within driving distance of their Drexel Heights AZ home. Those who have chosen to attend classes online naturally will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. Something to consider is that if you decide to enroll in a college that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges typically charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges normally charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Support Offered? Most DPT colleges offer some type of financial support to their potential students. Ask if the schools you are examining have a financial assistance department and find out what type of help is obtainable. They at least should help in obtaining a student loan or any grants you might qualify for. Some physical therapy colleges provide scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before you eliminate a school because the tuition is beyond your budget, ask what financial aid may be available.

Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must confirm that the physical therapist school you finally pick can provide the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you opt to continue working while attending classes. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Drexel Heights AZ area, make certain that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, find out if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would have to carry. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of illness, work or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Drexel Heights Physical Therapy Programs

Enroll in the Best Drexel Heights Physical Therapist School

Deciding on the right physical therapy school is a necessary initial decision you have to make to launch a fulfilling career in the medical field. As we have addressed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and school you choose should both have exceptional reputations and accreditation. But there are other critical questions that you need to ask concerning your school of choice as well. As you start your search for a physical therapy school bear in mind that numerous factors will guide you toward your ultimate decision. You might decide to go to different colleges to view their facilities and talk with current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important 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 ideal selection. And with the necessary education and training, you can fulfill your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in Drexel Heights Arizona.


 

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