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How to Enroll In the Right Physical Therapy Training Program Near Flagstaff Arizona

Flagstaff Arizona physical therapist working with female patient holding balance ballReceiving a physical therapy degree near Flagstaff AZ is an essential first step to starting a rewarding career in the health care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been disabled due to illness or injury regain function and mobility. But before they can practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they must acquire the appropriate 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 before enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's necessary to investigate those you are thinking about to ensure they will provide a superior education and meet your state's licensing standards. What you should not do is select a school simply because it happens to be the closest to your residence or it has cheapest tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that need to be evaluated along with location and cost. 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 is a Physical Therapist's Job Description?

Flagstaff Arizona physical therapist assisting female patient to walk

Physical therapists work in varying locations, such as Flagstaff AZ hospitals, health clinics, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and sports facilities. 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 experiencing a lack of mobility and frequently pain due to injury or illness. After diagnosing a patient, they create a program of treatment to deal with the mobility issues and lessen or eliminate any pain. They also try to stop any advancement of the disability. Though the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are abundant, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Car or motor cycle accidents
  • Strokes
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Burn injuries
  • Hip Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists work in close association with other Flagstaff AZ health professionals, including chiropractors, physicians, registered nurses and dentists. They can also manage several physical therapy assistants who work for them assisting with diagnosing and treating their patients. One thing to keep in mind for anyone considering going into the physical therapy profession, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift patients and heavy equipment, and stand, crouch and kneel for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapist Degrees Available

Flagstaff Arizona physical therapist working with patient in pool

There are 3 physical therapy degree options available for students to pursue at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these choices, the one degree that is offered that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees emphasize either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or readying them to advance to the doctoral level. Following are brief summaries of degrees that are available to prospective students in the Flagstaff AZ area:

  • Associate Degrees educate students to practice as physical therapy assistants, or can be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Applicants must have obtained a high school diploma or GED to be accepted for enrollment. The programs are usually made available by junior or community colleges, and require two years to complete. An internship or other form of clinical training is typically a portion of the curriculum.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapist education to prepare students to move up to the doctoral level. Although they are not a requirement to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an essential preliminary step to becoming a PT. Similar to the majority of bachelor's degrees, they typically require four years to finish 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 must also 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 complete, making the total commitment 7 years in the majority of cases. Clinical training is an intregal component along with the considerable lab and classroom instruction. Therefor the completion of an internship is mandated, not only for graduation but in a number of states for licensing also.

The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) has replaced the Master's of Physical Therapy (MPT), which has been eliminated and is no longer offered in the USA. A number of practicing physical therapists holding a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the current licensing mandate for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapy Colleges Online

Flagstaff Arizona female student taking physical therapist classes onlineAlthough not as common as the on campus alternatives, there are some accredited online physical therapist programs offered, more so at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on nature of the training, clinical lab work and internships are combined with the online classes. This requires that the student live close to the school campus or nearby an available internship. However, the online part of the curriculum can be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Flagstaff AZ residence. Online programs are not only to some extent more accessible, but in many instances more economical. Tuition might be somewhat lower than similar on campus alternatives, and costs for commuting are reduced. And many of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These benefits can make the online option the right choice for those students that are disciplined enough to attend classes at home.

Questions to Ask Physical Therapist Programs

At this point you most likely have come to decision regarding a few of your preliminary queries, including the type of physical therapy degree you want to obtain, where you want to attend classes, and how much you can afford to spend for your education. But since there are so many PT colleges within the Flagstaff AZ area and throughout Arizona, you'll have to explore additional qualifications also so as to further narrow your list of school choices. Also, you want to make sure that you select the college that is right for you. That's why we have collected a list of important questions that you must ask the physical therapist programs you are reviewing. Ask all of the potential colleges these questions before making an ultimate decision.

Is the Physical Therapist College Accredited?  Find out if the schools you are considering have received accreditation from a regional or a national organization. As earlier 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 may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapy school and program you enroll in are accredited, not just the school. Also, make sure that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. In addition to guaranteeing that you receive a quality education, accreditation may be mandated for state licensing and even for securing student loans or financial assistance.

What is the Program's Ranking? Along with accreditation, it's imperative that the college and program you choose have excellent reputations within the physical therapy profession. There are several ways you can investigate a PT program's reputation, starting 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 agencies for their reviews as well. Call some Flagstaff AZ physical therapist clinics or other medical care facilities that you may have an interest in working for and ask if they can give you any recommendations about your program options. It may also be prudent 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 useful statistics that you need to know about each of the physical therapy programs you are looking at. One is their graduation rate. A low rate may suggest that students dropped out due to displeasure with the program, the instructors, or both. Once the students have graduated, how many of them are being hired with the support of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Flagstaff AZ area? If a college has a high job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the health care community is good or even exceptional. It also verifies that the college has a broad network of contacts to assist students obtain internships or jobs upon graduation.

Does the School Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the college you enroll in provides both superior training and a course of study that satisfies the licensing criteria for Arizona or the state where you will be practicing. In each 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 vary state by state for PTA and PT graduates, many states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be completed and passing scores on additional exams.

Are Internship Programs Sponsored? Ask if the physical therapist programs you are assessing have associations with Flagstaff AZ hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only a terrific manner to obtain hands on experience in a clinical environment, they are additionally a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they can assist graduates and students form professional relationships in the Flagstaff healthcare community and help with job placement once licensed.

What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the sort of person that likes to sit way in the rear of class or hide in the crowd, you will probably want a small class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapist colleges you are looking at what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to sit in on one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you an opportunity to converse with some of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the physical therapy program also.

Where is the School Located? For many students, the physical therapist school they select will have to be within commuting distance of their Flagstaff AZ residence. Individuals who have decided to attend classes online naturally will not have to trouble 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 decide to enroll in a program that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges generally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges typically charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.

Is Financial Aid Offered? Most DPT schools supply some form of financial assistance to their prospective students. Ask if the schools you are looking at have a financial aid office and see what kind of aid is obtainable. They at least should help in getting a student loan or any grants you may be eligible for. Some physical therapist schools provide scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before you eliminate a school because the tuition is beyond your budget, ask what financial aid might be available.

Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to confirm that the physical therapy school you ultimately pick can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you opt to continue working while attending classes. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Flagstaff AZ area, make certain 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, find out what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss as a result of illness, work or family emergencies.

Learn More About Flagstaff Online Physical Therapy Schools

Choose the Best Flagstaff Physical Therapist School

Choosing the ideal physical therapy school is a necessary first decision you must make to begin a gratifying career in the healthcare field. As we have addressed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and college you decide on should both have outstanding reputations and be accredited. However there are additional important questions that you should ask regarding your school of choice as well. As you commence your search for a physical therapy school bear in mind that a number of factors will lead you toward your final decision. You might decide to visit different campuses to see their facilities and talk to current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this program help me reach my goal of becoming a licensed practicing 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 proper training and education, you can accomplish your dream to become a licensed physical therapist in Flagstaff Arizona.


 

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