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How to Pick the Right Physical Therapist Course Near Flagstaff Arizona

Flagstaff Arizona physical therapist working with woman holding balance ballGetting a physical therapist degree near Flagstaff AZ is an essential first step to starting a rewarding career in the health care field. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been incapacitated as a result of illness or injury gain back mobility and function. But before they can practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they need to obtain the appropriate training and education. A PT must also become licensed in every state, a large number mandating that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So prior to selecting a physical therapy school, it's important to evaluate the ones you are looking at to make certain they will provide a quality education and comply with your state's licensing standards. What you should not do is enroll in 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 along with cost and location. But before we cover what those qualifications are and the questions you should be asking, we'll cover what a physical therapist does and the options for education.

What is a Physical Therapist?

Flagstaff Arizona DPT assisting female patient to walk

Physical therapists practice in a variety of settings, such as Flagstaff AZ hospitals, health clinics, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and health clubs. What the facilities all share in common is that they are equipped for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As previously touched on, physical therapists help patients that are suffering from a lack of mobility and often pain due to injury or illness. After patient diagnosis, they develop a course of treatment to deal with the mobility issues and lessen or eradicate any pain. They also strive to stop any progression of the disability. Though the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are abundant, they include:

  • Osteoporosis and Arthritis
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Strokes
  • Heart attacks
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Burn injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Cerebral Palsy

Licensed physical therapists work in close partnerships with other Flagstaff AZ health professionals, including doctors, chiropractors, registered nurses and dentists. They may also oversee several physical therapy assistants who work for them assisting with the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. Something to keep in mind for anyone thinking about going into the physical therapy profession, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists often lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and kneel, crouch and stand for extended periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degrees

Flagstaff Arizona DPT working with patient in pool

There are 3 physical therapist degree options offered for students to pursue at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these alternatives, the only degree that is offered that qualifies the graduate to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees focus on either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or readying them to progress to the doctoral level. Below are short explanations of degree levels that are available to prospective students in the Flagstaff 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. Applicants must have earned a high school diploma or equivalent to be accepted for enrollment. The degrees are most often offered by community or junior colleges, and take about 2 years for completion. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is typically a portion of the curriculum.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapist training to prepare candidates to move up to the doctoral level. Although they are not required to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an important first step to becoming a PT. Similar to most bachelor's degrees, they normally take 4 years to finish and usually incorporate 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 three years to complete, making the total commitment 7 years in the majority of cases. Clinical or practical training is an intregal component in addition to the substantial classroom and lab instruction. Therefor the completion of an internship is required, not just for graduation but in some 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 USA. Some practicing physical therapists having a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the current licensing mandate for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapy Schools Online

Flagstaff Arizona woman taking physical therapist classes onlineAlthough not as prevalent 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 nature of the training, clinical lab work and internships are integrated with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live close to the school campus or in proximity of an available internship. However, the online segment of the curriculum may be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Flagstaff AZ home. Online programs are not only partially more accessible, but in a number of instances more affordable. Tuition can be somewhat lower than similar on campus options, and costs for commuting are minimized. And a number of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These advantages can make the online option the ideal choice for those students that are disciplined enough to attend classes at home.

Subjects to Ask Physical Therapist Colleges

At this point you most likely have made a decision concerning some of your initial questions, like the type of physical therapist degree you would like to obtain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much you can afford to invest in your education. But considering there are numerous PT colleges within the Flagstaff AZ area and across Arizona, you'll need to research other qualifications as well so as to further narrow your list of college options. Also, you need to make certain that you select the school that is best for you. That's why we have collected a list of essential questions that you must ask the physical therapist schools you are considering. Ask each of the competing colleges these questions before making an ultimate decision.

Is the Physical Therapist Program Accredited?  Find out if the schools you are considering have received accreditation from a national or a regional organization. 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 college, it can also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapist program and school you choose are accredited, not just the school. Additionally, make sure that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Along with ensuring that you obtain an excellent education, accreditation may be required for state licensing and even for securing student loans or financial aid.

What is the School's Reputation? In addition to accreditation, it's essential that the school and program you choose have outstanding reputations within the physical therapy profession. There are several ways you can look into a PT college's reputation, beginning with asking for references from employers that they refer their students to. You may also check online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. Contact several Flagstaff AZ physical therapist clinics or other medical care facilities that you may have an interest in working for and ask if they can provide any insight about your program options. It may also be a good idea to contact the Arizona Attorney General and school licensing authority to find out if any complaints have been submitted against the schools.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? There are a two significant statistics that you need to know about all of the physical therapist colleges you are reviewing. One is their graduation rate. A low rate may indicate that students dropped out because of dissatisfaction with the program, the instructors, or both. After the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being placed in jobs with the help of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Flagstaff AZ area? If a school has a higher job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the health care community is good or even excellent. It also verifies that the school has a large network of contacts to help students get internships or employment upon graduation.

Does the School Support Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the program you enroll in furnishes both superior 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 needed on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapist program. While licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PTA and PT graduates, a number of states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be completed as well as passing scores on additional exams.

Are Internship Programs Offered? Inquire if the physical therapist schools you are evaluating have partnerships with Flagstaff AZ hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships a great way to receive hands on experience in a clinical setting, they are additionally a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they may assist graduates and students develop professional connections in the Flagstaff medical community and help with job placement once licensed.

What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of person that likes to sit far in the rear of class or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a small class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapy colleges you are researching what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your final determination. 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 Program Located? For a number of students, the physical therapist school they select will need to be within commuting distance of their Flagstaff AZ residence. Individuals who have decided to attend online classes obviously will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. One thing to keep in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a program that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you may have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges often charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges often charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.

Is Financial Help Offered? Most DPT schools supply some type of financial support to their potential students. Ask if the colleges you are examining have a financial assistance department and find out what kind of assistance is offered. At a minimum they should help in obtaining a student loan or any grants you may be eligible for. A number of physical therapy colleges offer scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before you eliminate a program because the tuition is too expensive, learn what financial assistance might be available.

Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must verify that the physical therapist college you finally select can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you opt to continue working while you attend school. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Flagstaff AZ area, check that they are offered. 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 have to enroll in. Also, find out what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss because of illness, work or family obligations.

Learn More About Flagstaff Physical Therapist Programs

Enroll in the Right Flagstaff Physical Therapist School

Picking the ideal physical therapist program is an important first decision you need to make to start a fulfilling career in the health care field. As we have addressed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and school you enroll in should both have excellent reputations and be accredited. However there are other relevant questions that you need to ask pertaining to your college of choice also. As you start your search for a physical therapy college keep in mind that many factors will lead you toward your final decision. You may want to visit different colleges to see their facilities and talk with current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this school help me achieve my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By following our list of supplemental questions, you will be able to narrow down the options so you can make the appropriate choice. And with the necessary education and training, you can fulfill your dream to become a licensed physical therapist in Flagstaff Arizona.


 

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