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How to Select the Right Physical Therapist Program Near El Mirage Arizona

El Mirage Arizona physical therapist working with woman using balance ballObtaining a physical therapist degree near El Mirage AZ is an important first step to starting a rewarding career in the health care field. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been disabled as a result of illness or injury regain function and mobility. But before they can practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they must receive the proper education and training. A PT must additionally be licensed in every state, many mandating that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So prior to enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's essential to research the ones you are looking at to make certain they will deliver a quality education and comply with your state's licensing requirements. What you do not want to do is select a school just because it happens to be the nearest to your home or it has cheapest tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that need to be considered besides location and cost. But before we discuss 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's Job Description?

El Mirage Arizona DPT assisting female patient to walk

Physical therapists practice in varying settings, such as El Mirage AZ private practices, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes 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 stated, physical therapists help individuals that are experiencing a lack of mobility and frequently pain caused by injury or illness. After patient diagnosis, they design a course of treatment to deal with the mobility issues and lessen or eliminate any pain. They also endeavor to stop any advancement of the disability. Although the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Car or motor cycle accidents
  • Head injuries
  • Heart attacks
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Burn injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists practice in close partnerships with other El Mirage AZ health professionals, including doctors, chiropractors, dentists and nurses. They can also manage one or more physical therapy assistants who work for them assisting with the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. One thing to take note of for anyone considering getting into the physical therapy profession, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and stand, crouch and kneel for extended periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapist Degrees Offered

El Mirage Arizona DPT working with man in pool

There are three physical therapy degrees available for individuals to pursue at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these choices, the only degree that is offered that qualifies the graduate to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees concentrate on either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or preparing them to progress to the doctoral level. Below are brief explanations of degrees that are offered to prospective students in the El Mirage AZ area:

  • Associate Degrees prepare students to become physical therapy assistants, or may be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Applicants must have earned a high school diploma or GED to qualify for enrollment. The degrees are typically provided by community colleges, and require 2 years to complete. An internship or other form of clinical training is normally part of the program.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapist education to ready students to move up to the doctoral level. Although they are not a requirement to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an integral first step to practicing as a PT. Similar to most bachelor's degrees, they generally take four years to complete and commonly include 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 also must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). After earning the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes 3 years to finish, making the total commitment 7 years in most cases. Practical or clinical training is an important element along with the substantial classroom and lab instruction. Therefor the fulfillment of an internship is required, not only for graduation but in several 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 attainable in the USA. Some practicing physical therapists holding a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the existing licensing requirement for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapist Schools Online

El Mirage Arizona woman taking physical therapist classes onlineWhile not as prevalent as the on campus options, there are many accredited online physical therapist programs available, even more at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on nature of the training, clinical lab work and internships are incorporated with the online classes. This requires that the student live close to the college campus or nearby an available internship. However, the online segment of the program can be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's El Mirage AZ home. Online programs are not only to some extent more accessible, but in a number of instances more economical. Tuition can be significantly lower than similar on campus options, and costs for commuting are reduced. And many of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These benefits may make the online option the ideal choice for those students that are dedicated enough to attend classes at home.

What to Ask Physical Therapy Programs

At this point you most likely have made a decision regarding a few of your preliminary questions, including the kind of physical therapist degree you would like to earn, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much you can afford to invest in your education. But since there are so many PT colleges within the El Mirage AZ area and throughout Arizona, you'll need to explore additional qualifications as well in order to further reduce your list of school options. Furthermore, you want to be sure that you choose the school that is right for you. That's why we have collected a list of important questions that you need to ask the physical therapist colleges you are considering. Ask each of the potential schools these questions before making an ultimate selection.

Is the Physical Therapist School Accredited?  Find out if the schools you are reviewing have earned accreditation from a regional or a national 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 choose an online program, it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's important that both the physical therapy school and program you enroll in are accredited, not simply the school. Also, make sure that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. In addition to guaranteeing that you receive an excellent education, accreditation might be mandated for state licensing and even for securing student loans or financial assistance.

What is the School's Ranking? Along with accreditation, it's essential that the school and program you select have outstanding reputations within the physical therapist profession. There are several ways you can look into a PT school's reputation, beginning with asking for references from employers that they place their graduates with. You may also search for online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Call several El Mirage AZ physical therapist clinics or other healthcare facilities that you might have an interest in working for and ask if they can provide any advice about your college options. It may also be prudent to check with the Arizona Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been filed against the schools.

What is the College's Job Placement Percentage? There are a couple of relevant statistics that you should find out about all of the physical therapist colleges you are considering. One is their graduation rate. A lower rate may mean that students left because of dissatisfaction with the program, the teachers, or both. After the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being placed in jobs with the help of the school's job placement program, particularly in the El Mirage AZ area? If a college has a higher job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the healthcare field is good or even exceptional. It also verifies 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 imperative that the program you select furnishes both exceptional training and a curriculum that satisfies the licensing requirements for Arizona or the state where you will be working. In every state a passing score is required on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) in addition to a degree from an accredited physical therapy school. While licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PTA and PT graduates, a number of states require a minimum number of clinical hours be completed and passing scores on additional tests.

Are Internships Sponsored? Find out if the physical therapist programs you are evaluating have relationships with El Mirage AZ hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent way to get practical training in a clinical environment, they are also a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they may assist graduates and students develop professional connections in the El Mirage healthcare community and assist with obtaining employment 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 probably want a smaller class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapist colleges you are considering what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you a chance to converse with a few of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapist program also.

Where is the College Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapy college they select will need to be within travelling distance of their El Mirage AZ home. Students who have decided 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. One thing to bear in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a college that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may need 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 Support Offered? The majority of DPT schools offer some type of financial aid to their potential students. Find out if the colleges you are examining have a financial aid department and see what kind of aid is obtainable. At a minimum they should help in acquiring a student loan or any grants you may be eligible for. Some physical therapist schools provide scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before you eliminate a school because the tuition is too expensive, learn what financial aid might be available.

Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to verify that the physical therapist college you finally pick can furnish 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 El Mirage AZ area, make sure that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, verify if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would have to enroll in. Also, find out what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss due to work, illness or family emergencies.

Find Out More About El Mirage Physical Therapist Degrees

Choose the Right El Mirage Physical Therapist School

Picking the best physical therapy school is an important first decision you need to make to start a rewarding career in the healthcare profession. As we have covered in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and school you enroll in should both have outstanding reputations and be accredited. However there are additional critical questions that you should ask regarding your school of choice also. As you start your search for a physical therapist program bear in mind that many variables will guide you to your final decision. You may want to go to different colleges to see their facilities and talk with active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this program help me accomplish my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By adhering to our list of supplemental questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the options so you can make the ideal choice. And with the proper education and training, you can fulfill your dream to become a licensed physical therapist in El Mirage Arizona.


 

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