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How to Pick the Right Physical Therapy Degree Program Near Eloy Arizona

Eloy Arizona physical therapist working with woman holding exercise ballEarning a physical therapist degree near Eloy AZ is an essential first step to launching a rewarding career in the health care field. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been incapacitated as a result of illness or injury regain mobility and function. But before they may legally practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they must obtain the necessary education and training. A PT must also become licensed in every state, many mandating that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So prior to enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's necessary to evaluate those you are considering to make sure they will deliver a superior education and meet your state's licensing standards. What you should not do is choose a college simply because it happens to be the nearest to your residence or it has the lowest tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that need to be evaluated in addition to 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 the options for education.

What Do Physical Therapists Do?

Eloy Arizona physical therapist helping female patient to walk

Physical therapists practice in varying locations, including Eloy AZ private practices, hospitals, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and health clubs. What the facilities all share in common is that they have the equipment for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As earlier touched on, physical therapists help people that are suffering from a lack of mobility and frequently pain due to illness or injury. After patient diagnosis, they create a course of treatment to resolve the mobility problems and lessen or eliminate any pain. They also endeavor to stop any progression of the disability. Although the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are abundant, they include:

  • Osteoporosis and Arthritis
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Head injuries
  • Heart attacks
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Burn injuries
  • Hip Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists practice in close affiliation with other Eloy AZ medical specialists, including chiropractors, physicians, registered nurses and dentists. They may also manage several physical therapy assistants who work for them in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. One thing to take note of for anyone thinking about entering the physical therapy field, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and kneel, crouch and stand for extended periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapist Degrees Available

Eloy Arizona DPT working with man in pool

There are 3 physical therapist degrees available for individuals to enroll in at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these choices, the single degree that is offered that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees target either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or preparing them to advance to the doctoral level. Below are brief summaries of degrees that are offered to prospective students in the Eloy AZ area:

  • Associate Degrees educate students to practice as physical therapy assistants, or can be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Candidates must have obtained a high school diploma or equivalent to qualify for enrollment. The programs are most often offered by junior or community colleges, and require two years for completion. An internship or other form of clinical training is usually part of the program.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapist training to prep students to move up to the doctoral level. While they are not required to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an important preliminary step to becoming a PT. Similar to most bachelor's degrees, they normally take 4 years to complete and usually include an internship program of at least 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are a requirement if you want 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 total investment of time seven years in most cases. Clinical training is an important component in addition to the substantial lab and classroom instruction. Therefor the fulfillment of an internship is required, not just for graduation but in several states for licensing as well.

The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) has taken the place of the Master's of Physical Therapy (MPT), which has been phased out and is no longer available in the United States. A number of licensed physical therapists having a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the present licensing mandate for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapy Colleges Online

Eloy Arizona woman taking physical therapy courses onlineWhile not as prevalent as the on-campus alternatives, there are some accredited online physical therapist programs 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 requires that the student live near the college campus or in proximity of an available internship. However, the online segment of the curriculum can be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Eloy AZ home. Online schools are not only to some extent more accessible, but in a number of instances more economical. Tuition can be somewhat lower than comparable on campus options, and expenses for commuting are reduced. And a number of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These benefits may make the online alternative the ideal choice for those students that are disciplined enough to attend classes at home.

Topics to Ask Physical Therapist Colleges

At this point you most likely have come to decision concerning several of your preliminary questions, such as the kind of physical therapy degree you want 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 Eloy AZ area and throughout Arizona, you'll have to explore additional qualifications as well so as to further narrow your list of school options. Moreover, you want to make sure that you enroll in the college that is ideal for you. That's why we have put together a list of critical questions that you need to ask the physical therapy programs you are considering. Ask each of the competing schools these questions prior to making a final decision.

Is the Physical Therapy School Accredited?  Find out if the programs you are looking at have received accreditation from a national or a regional 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 enroll in an online college, it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's important that both the physical therapist school and program you enroll in are accredited, not simply the school. Additionally, verify that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. In addition to ensuring that you receive a quality education, accreditation might be required for state licensing and even for securing student loans or financial aid.

What is the College's Standing? In addition to accreditation, it's essential that the school and program you choose have excellent reputations within the physical therapist profession. There are multiple ways you can investigate a PT college's reputation, beginning with asking for references from employers that they refer their students to. You may also search for online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Contact several Eloy AZ physical therapist centers or other medical care facilities that you may be interested in working for and ask if they can offer any recommendations 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 submitted against the schools.

What is the Program's Job Placement Percentage? There are a couple of relevant statistics that you need to know about each of the physical therapy programs you are considering. One is their graduation rate. A low rate might mean that students dropped out because of dissatisfaction with the program, the instructors, or both. Once 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 Eloy AZ area? If a school has a high job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the healthcare field is good or perhaps exceptional. It also affirms that the college has a wide network of contacts to help students get internships or employment upon graduation.

Does the Program Support Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the program you choose furnishes both exceptional training and a course of study that satisfies the licensing criteria 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 differ state by state for PTA and PT graduates, some states require a minimum number of clinical hours be performed and passing scores on additional exams.

Are Internship Programs Offered? Inquire if the physical therapist programs you are interested in have partnerships with Eloy AZ clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only a great way to get hands on training in a clinical environment, they are additionally a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they can help students and graduates develop professional relationships in the Eloy health care community and help with job placement once licensed.

How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of person that prefers to sit way in the rear of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will likely prefer a smaller class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapist schools you are researching 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 ultimate decision. This will also give you an opportunity to speak with several of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the physical therapist program as well.

Where is the Program Located? For a number of students, the physical therapist school they select will have to be within driving distance of their Eloy AZ home. Students who have chosen to attend online classes obviously will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of importance. One thing to keep 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 be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges normally 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 Aid Provided? Most DPT schools offer some type of financial support to their potential students. Find out if the colleges you are reviewing have a financial aid office and find out what type of assistance is obtainable. They at least should help in securing a student loan or any scholarships you might qualify for. A number of physical therapist schools offer scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before eliminating a school because the tuition is beyond your budget, ask what financial assistance may be available.

Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to verify that the physical therapist college you ultimately pick can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you choose to continue working while you attend classes. If you must 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, check if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would need to enroll in. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Eloy Physical Therapist Majors

Choose the Right Eloy Physical Therapist School

Picking the best physical therapy program is an important first decision you must make to launch a fulfilling career in the healthcare profession. As we have covered in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and college you pick should both have outstanding reputations and accreditation. But there are additional relevant questions that you need to ask pertaining to your college of choice as well. As you commence your search for a physical therapy school bear in mind that numerous factors will lead you toward your final decision. You might want to visit different campuses to see their facilities and talk with active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this school help me realize 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 selection. And with the necessary training and education, you can fulfill your dream to become a licensed physical therapist in Eloy Arizona.


 

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