How to Choose the Right Physical Therapist Program Near Eloy Arizona
Receiving a physical therapy degree near Eloy AZ is a critical first step to starting a fulfilling career in the health care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been incapacitated due to injury or illness regain function and mobility. But before they can practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they must receive the necessary training and education. A PT must additionally become licensed in every state, a large number requiring that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So before selecting a physical therapy school, it's essential to research those you are thinking about to make certain they will provide a quality education and comply with your state's licensing requirements. What you do not want to do is choose a college simply because it happens to be the closest to your home or it has the lowest tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that must be evaluated along with location and cost. But before we cover what those qualifications are and the questions you should be asking, we'll address what a physical therapist does and what the educational options are.
What Do Physical Therapists Do?
Physical therapists work in varying settings, such as Eloy AZ hospitals, health clinics, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and health clubs. What the facilities all have in common is that they have the equipment for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As previously stated, physical therapists help individuals that are suffering from a lack of mobility and frequently pain due to illness or injury. After patient diagnosis, they design a course of treatment to resolve the mobility problems and reduce or eliminate any pain. They also try to prevent any progression of the disability. While the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are numerous, they include:
- Osteoporosis and Arthritis
- Car or motor cycle accidents
- Head injuries
- Cardiac arrest
- Sports injuries
- Burn injuries
- Hip Replacement
- Multiple Sclerosis
Licensed physical therapists practice in close partnerships with other Eloy AZ health professionals, including chiropractors, physicians, dentists and nurses. They may 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 thinking about going into the physical therapy field, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists routinely lift patients and heavy equipment, and kneel, crouch and stand for long periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapy Degrees Offered
There are 3 physical therapist degrees offered for individuals to enroll in at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these choices, the single degree that is offered that qualifies the graduate to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees concentrate on either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or prepping them to progress to the doctoral level. Below are brief summaries of degree levels that are offered to prospective students in the Eloy AZ area:
- Associate Degrees prepare students to be physical therapy assistants, or may be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Applicants must have earned a high school diploma or GED to qualify for enrollment. The degrees are typically made available by junior or community colleges, and require 2 years to complete. An internship or other form of clinical training is normally part of the curriculum.
- Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapist training to prepare candidates to progress to the doctoral level. Although they are not required to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an important preliminary step to practicing as a PT. As with the majority of bachelor's degrees, they typically require 4 years to finish and usually incorporate an internship program of at least 500 hours.
- Doctorate Degrees are a requirement 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 complete, making the overall commitment seven years in most cases. Clinical or practical training is an essential component in addition to the considerable classroom and lab instruction. Therefor the completion of an internship is mandated, not just 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 available 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 present licensing mandate for a doctorate was implemented.
Physical Therapy Schools Online
Although not as common as the more traditional options, there are some accredited online physical therapy degrees available, even more at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on nature of the training, clinical lab work and internships are integrated with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live near the college campus or in proximity of an available internship. Fortunately, the online portion of the course of study may be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Eloy AZ residence. Online programs are not only partially more accessible, but in many cases more economical. Tuition might be significantly lower than similar on-campus alternatives, and expenses for commuting are reduced. And a number of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These advantages may make the online option the right choice for those students that are dedicated enough to attend classes at home.
Questions to Ask Physical Therapy Schools
At this point you undoubtedly have come to decision regarding some of your initial questions, including the kind of physical therapy degree you want to obtain, where you want to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to spend for your education. But because there are so many PT colleges within the Eloy AZ area and across Arizona, you'll have to look into additional qualifications as well in order to further reduce your list of college options. Moreover, you want to make sure that you pick the program that is best for you. That's the reason we have put together a list of important questions that you must ask the physical therapy colleges you are reviewing. Ask all of the competing colleges these questions prior to making an ultimate decision.
Is the Physical Therapist School Accredited? Find out if the schools you are considering have received accreditation from a national or a regional organization. As previously mentioned, if you are pursuing a doctorate 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 imperative that both the physical therapist school and program you choose are accredited, not just the school. Also, check that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Along with ensuring that you obtain a quality education, accreditation might be required for state licensing as well as for getting student loans or financial aid.
What is the Program's Reputation? In addition to accreditation, it's essential that the school and program you pick have outstanding reputations within the physical therapist profession. There are a number of ways you can look into a PT program's reputation, beginning with asking for references from employers that they place their graduates with. You can also check online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Get in touch with several Eloy AZ physical therapy centers or other health care facilities that you might be interested in working for and ask if they can offer any recommendations about your college options. 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 College's Job Placement Rate? There are a couple of useful statistics that you should find out about all of the physical therapy programs you are reviewing. First is their graduation rate. A low rate may suggest that students dropped out due to dissatisfaction with the program, the instructors, or both. Once the students have graduated, how many of them are being hired with the help of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Eloy AZ area? If a school has a higher job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the healthcare field is good or even excellent. It also affirms that the school has a broad network of contacts to assist students gain internships or jobs after graduation.
Does the School Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the college you enroll in furnishes both exceptional training and a curriculum that satisfies the licensing criteria for Arizona or the state where you will be working. In each state a passing score is required on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) as well as a degree from an accredited physical therapy program. While licensing requirements differ state by state for PT and PTA graduates, some states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be completed as well as passing scores on additional exams.
Are Internships Provided? Ask if the physical therapist colleges you are assessing have relationships with Eloy AZ clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific way to get practical experience in a clinical setting, they are also a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they can help students and graduates develop professional connections in the Eloy health care community and help with job placement after licensing.
How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of student that likes to sit far in the rear of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will likely want a smaller class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapy schools you are considering what the typical student to teacher 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 converse with some of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapy program also.
Where is the College Located? For many students, the physical therapy school they select will need to be within driving distance of their Eloy AZ residence. Individuals who have opted to attend classes online naturally will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. Something to keep in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a college that is out of state or even 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 frequently charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? The majority of DPT schools supply some type of financial aid to their potential students. Ask if the colleges you are examining have a financial assistance office and see what kind of help is offered. At a minimum they should help in securing a student loan or any grants you might qualify for. Some physical therapy colleges provide scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before eliminating a school because the tuition is too expensive, ask what financial assistance may be available.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to confirm that the physical therapy program you ultimately select can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you decide to continue working while you attend school. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Eloy AZ area, check that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would have to enroll in. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss because of work, illness or family obligations.
Choose the Best Eloy Physical Therapy School
Choosing the best physical therapy program is an important first decision you must make to begin a fulfilling career in the medical profession. As we have discussed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and school you choose should both have excellent reputations and accreditation. However there are other critical questions that you need to ask pertaining to your school of choice also. As you commence your search for a physical therapy program keep in mind that numerous factors will guide you toward your ultimate decision. You may decide to go to different colleges to view their facilities and speak with current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this college help me accomplish 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 best selection. And with the necessary education and training, you can achieve your dream of becoming a practicing physical therapist in Eloy Arizona.