How to Select the Right Physical Therapy Degree Program Near Drexel Heights Arizona
Getting a physical therapist degree near Drexel Heights AZ is a critical first step to launching a fulfilling career in the medical care field. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been debilitated as a result of illness or injury gain back mobility and function. But before they may legally practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they need to get the proper education and training. A PT must also become licensed in all states, many mandating that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So prior to enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's necessary to evaluate those you are considering to make certain they will supply a quality education and satisfy your state's licensing criteria. What you should not do is select a college just because it happens to be the closest to your home or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that must be considered besides location and cost. But before we discuss what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, we'll address what a physical therapist does and the options for education.
What is a Physical Therapist's Job Description?
Physical therapists work in varying settings, including Drexel Heights AZ private practices, hospitals, 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 suffering from a lack of mobility and often pain due to illness or injury. After patient diagnosis, they design a program of treatment to address the mobility issues and lessen or eliminate any pain. They also strive to stop any progression of the disability. While the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are numerous, they include:
- Osteoporosis and Arthritis
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Head injuries
- Cardiac arrest
- Sports injuries
- Fire injuries
- Knee Replacement
- Cerebral Palsy
Licensed physical therapists work 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 for them assisting with the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. Something to take note of for anyone considering getting into the physical therapy profession, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists often lift patients and heavy equipment, and stand, crouch and kneel for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapy Degrees
There are 3 physical therapist degrees available for individuals to pursue at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these alternatives, the one degree that is attainable that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees focus on either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or preparing them to advance to the doctoral level. Below are short explanations of degree levels that are offered to prospective students in the Drexel Heights AZ area:
- Associate Degrees educate students to practice as physical therapy assistants, or can be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Applicants must have earned a high school diploma or equivalent to be accepted for enrollment. The degrees are most often made available by community colleges, and require 2 years for completion. An internship or other form of clinical training is typically a component of the program.
- Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapy education to prepare candidates to move up to the doctoral level. Although they are not required to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an integral first step to becoming a PT. Similar to most bachelor's degrees, they generally take four years to complete and usually incorporate an internship program of a minimum of 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). After earning the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes 3 years to complete, making the overall commitment 7 years in most cases. Clinical or practical training is an important element in addition to the extensive classroom and lab instruction. Consequently the fulfillment 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 replaced the Master's of Physical Therapy (MPT), which has been eliminated and is no longer offered in the USA. Some licensed physical therapists holding a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the current licensing mandate for a doctorate was instituted.
Physical Therapist Programs Online
While not as prevalent as the on-campus alternatives, there are some accredited online physical therapy degrees 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 requires that the student live near the school campus or nearby an available internship. However, the online portion of the program may be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Drexel Heights AZ home. Online schools are not only to some extent more accessible, but in a number of cases more economical. Tuition may be significantly less than similar on-campus options, and expenses for commuting are minimized. And many of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These advantages can make the online alternative the right choice for those students that are disciplined enough to attend classes at home.
What to Ask Physical Therapist Programs
By now you undoubtedly have made a decision regarding a few of your initial questions, such as the type of physical therapy degree you would like to earn, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much you can afford to invest in your education. But because there are so many PT schools within the Drexel Heights AZ area and throughout Arizona, you'll need to research other qualifications also in order to further narrow your list of school options. Also, you want to be sure that you enroll in the college that is ideal for you. That's why we have compiled a list of important questions that you must ask the physical therapist programs you are thinking about. Ask each of the potential schools these questions prior to making a final decision.
Is the Physical Therapist School Accredited? Find out if the colleges you are reviewing have received accreditation from a national or a regional agency. As earlier mentioned, 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 may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapy school and program you select are accredited, not simply the school. Also, make sure that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Along with ensuring that you receive an excellent education, accreditation might be mandated for state licensing and even for getting student loans or financial aid.
What is the College's Reputation? In addition to accreditation, it's important that the college and program you select have outstanding reputations within the physical therapist profession. There are several ways you can research a PT school's reputation, starting with requesting references from employers that they refer their students to. You can also check online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. Contact a few Drexel Heights AZ physical therapy centers or other health care facilities that you might have an interest in working for and ask if they can give you any advice about your school selections. It may also be prudent to contact the Arizona Attorney General and school licensing authority to find out if any complaints have been filed against the schools.
What is the School's Job Placement Rate? There are a two useful statistics that you should know about each of the physical therapy schools you are looking at. One is their graduation rate. A lower rate may mean that students dropped out because of displeasure with the program, the teachers, or both. After the students have graduated, how many of them are being placed in jobs with the support of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Drexel Heights AZ area? If a college has a high job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the health care community is good or perhaps excellent. It also confirms that the program has a wide network of contacts to assist students obtain internships or jobs upon graduation.
Does the School Support Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the program you enroll in furnishes both excellent training and a curriculum that satisfies the licensing criteria for Arizona or the state where you will be practicing. In every state a passing score is needed on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapy college. While licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PT and PTA graduates, many states require a minimum number of clinical hours be completed as well as passing scores on supplemental tests.
Are Internship Programs Sponsored? Find out if the physical therapist colleges you are assessing have partnerships with Drexel Heights AZ hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships a great means to get hands on experience in a clinical environment, they are additionally a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they can assist students and graduates develop professional connections in the Drexel Heights healthcare community and assist with job placement once licensed.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of student that likes to sit way in the rear of class or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a small class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapist colleges you are reviewing 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 ultimate decision. This will also give you an opportunity to converse with a few of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the physical therapist program as well.
Where is the School Located? For many students, the physical therapist school they choose will have to be within driving distance of their Drexel Heights AZ residence. Students who have decided to attend online classes obviously will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. One thing 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 have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges usually charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges generally charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.
Is Financial Help Provided? The majority of DPT colleges offer some form of financial support to their potential students. Ask if the colleges you are examining have a financial assistance department and see what kind of assistance is obtainable. They at least should help in acquiring a student loan or any grants you may qualify for. Some physical therapy colleges provide scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before you eliminate a college because the tuition is beyond your budget, ask what financial assistance may be available.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must confirm that the physical therapy college you ultimately choose can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly essential if you choose to continue working while attending classes. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Drexel Heights AZ area, confirm 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, ask 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 Best Drexel Heights Physical Therapist School
Deciding on the right physical therapy school is a necessary first decision you must make to launch a fulfilling career in the health care field. As we have discussed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and college you enroll in should both have outstanding reputations and accreditation. But there are other relevant questions that you need to ask pertaining to your school of choice as well. As you start your search for a physical therapist school bear in mind that numerous variables will guide you toward your ultimate decision. You may want to go to different schools to see their facilities and talk with active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this college help me realize my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By adhering to our list of supplemental questions, you will be able to narrow down the field so you can make the ideal selection. And with the proper training and education, you can accomplish your dream of becoming a practicing physical therapist in Drexel Heights Arizona.