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How to Find the Right Physical Therapy College Near El Mirage Arizona

El Mirage Arizona physical therapist working with female patient using exercise ballEarning 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 individuals who have been debilitated due to illness or injury gain back function and mobility. But before they can practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they must get the necessary education and training. A PT must also be licensed in all states, many requiring that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So prior to choosing a physical therapy school, it's necessary to research those you are considering to make certain they will deliver a superior education and comply with your state's licensing criteria. What you should not do is select a school just because it happens to be the closest to your residence or it has cheapest tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that need to be considered 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?

El Mirage Arizona physical therapist assisting female patient to walk

Physical therapists work in diverse settings, such as El Mirage AZ hospitals, health clinics, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and health clubs. What the facilities all have in common is that they are equipped for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As previously touched on, physical therapists help individuals that are struggling with a lack of mobility and in many cases pain caused by illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they develop a course of treatment to resolve the mobility issues and reduce or eradicate any pain. They also endeavor to stop any progression of the disability. Although the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are abundant, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Strokes
  • Heart attacks
  • Sports injuries
  • Fire injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Cerebral Palsy

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

Physical Therapist Degrees Offered

El Mirage Arizona DPT working with patient in pool

There are 3 physical therapy degrees offered for students to pursue at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these alternatives, the one degree that is offered that qualifies the graduate to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees target either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or preparing them to progress to the doctoral level. Following are brief descriptions of degrees that are offered to prospective students in the El Mirage AZ area:

  • Associate Degrees prepare students to be physical therapy assistants, or can be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Applicants must have obtained a high school diploma or equivalent to be accepted for enrollment. The degrees are usually offered by junior or community colleges, and take about two years for completion. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is normally part of the curriculum.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapy training to ready candidates to advance to the doctoral level. Although they are not a requirement to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an essential initial step to becoming a PT. Similar to most bachelor's degrees, they typically take 4 years to complete and often incorporate an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are a requirement if you want to become a practicing licensed physical therapist. The degree program also must 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 finish, making the total investment of time 7 years in the majority of cases. Practical or clinical training is an essential component along with the considerable classroom and lab instruction. Therefor the completion of an internship is mandated, not solely for graduation but in some states for licensing as well.

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 USA. A number of licensed physical therapists having a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the existing licensing requirement for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapist Programs Online

El Mirage Arizona female student taking physical therapist training onlineWhile not as common 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, clinical lab work and internships are combined with the online classes. This requires that the student live close to the college campus or in proximity of a sponsored internship. However, the online portion of the curriculum may be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's El Mirage AZ home. Online programs are not only to some extent more accessible, but in a number of cases more economical. Tuition can be somewhat lower than comparable on campus alternatives, and expenses for commuting are minimized. And many of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These advantages can make the online alternative the ideal choice for those students that are dedicated enough to learn at home.

Topics to Ask Physical Therapist Schools

By now you undoubtedly have made a decision concerning a few of your initial queries, like the type of physical therapist degree you would like to attain, where you want to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to invest in your education. But because there are so many PT schools within the El Mirage AZ area and across Arizona, you'll need to explore additional qualifications also in order to further reduce your list of school choices. Furthermore, you need to make sure that you select the school that is right for you. That's the reason we have compiled a list of essential questions that you need to ask the physical therapy programs you are considering. Ask all of the potential colleges these questions prior to making an ultimate decision.

Is the Physical Therapy School Accredited?  Find out if the colleges you are considering have received 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 can also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's important that both the physical therapist program and school you enroll in are accredited, not just the school. Additionally, check that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. In addition to ensuring that you obtain a quality education, accreditation may be mandated 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 essential that the school and program you choose have exceptional reputations within the physical therapy profession. There are a number of ways you can look into a PT college's reputation, starting with requesting references from employers that they place their graduates with. You can also search for online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. Call a few El Mirage AZ physical therapy clinics or other healthcare facilities that you may be interested in working for and ask if they can provide any advice about your school selections. It may also be a good idea 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 Rate? There are a two useful statistics that you should know about all of the physical therapist schools you are considering. First is their graduation rate. A lower rate might mean that students left due to dissatisfaction with the program, the instructors, or both. Once the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being hired with the assistance of the college's job placement program, particularly in the El Mirage AZ area? If a college has a higher job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the healthcare field is good or perhaps excellent. It also affirms that the school has a broad network of contacts to help students get internships or jobs after graduation.

Does the College Support Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the college you choose furnishes both exceptional training and a curriculum that satisfies the licensing requirements 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) as well as a degree from an accredited physical therapy college. While licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PT and PTA graduates, a number of states require a minimum number of clinical hours be performed and passing scores on additional tests.

Are Internship Programs Sponsored? Find out if the physical therapist programs you are reviewing have associations with El Mirage AZ hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships a great means to get practical experience in a clinical setting, they are additionally a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they may assist graduates and students establish professional relationships in the El Mirage healthcare community and assist with obtaining employment after licensing.

How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of person that likes to sit way in the rear of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will probably prefer a small class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapist schools you are considering what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you an opportunity to speak with some of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the physical therapy program as well.

Where is the College Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapy school they pick will have to be within travelling distance of their El Mirage AZ home. Students who have chosen to attend online classes naturally will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. Something to bear in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a college that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges commonly 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 Aid Provided? Most DPT schools offer some type of financial assistance to their potential students. Find out if the colleges you are examining have a financial aid office and see what kind of help is available. At a minimum they should help in securing a student loan or any scholarships you might be eligible for. A number of physical therapy schools offer scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before you eliminate a school because the tuition is too expensive, find out what financial assistance might be available.

Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to confirm that the physical therapist school you finally choose can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you choose to continue working while attending school. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the El Mirage AZ area, make sure that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, verify if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would have to enroll in. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss because of illness, work or family obligations.

Find Out More About El Mirage Physical Therapist Training

Choose the Right El Mirage Physical Therapy School

Choosing the right physical therapy college is a necessary initial decision you must make to start a rewarding career in the health care field. As we have covered in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and school you decide on should both have exceptional reputations and be accredited. However there are other relevant questions that you should ask regarding your college of choice also. As you begin your search for a physical therapy school keep in mind that a number of variables will guide you toward your final decision. You may want to go to different colleges to see their facilities and speak to current 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 have the ability to narrow down the field so you can make the best selection. And with the necessary education and training, you can achieve your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in El Mirage Arizona.


 

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