Home >> Arizona >> Flagstaff >> Physical Therapy Schools


Get Free Information on Physical Therapist Training Flagstaff AZ 86001

How to Pick the Right Physical Therapist College Near Flagstaff Arizona

Flagstaff Arizona physical therapist working with female patient using balance ballObtaining a physical therapist degree near Flagstaff AZ is a critical first step to starting a rewarding career in the medical care field. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been incapacitated due to illness or injury regain function and mobility. But before they may legally practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they need to receive the necessary education and training. A PT must also be licensed in all states, a large number requiring that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So before enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's essential to investigate the ones you are looking at to ensure they will deliver a quality education and satisfy your state's licensing standards. What you do not want to do is enroll in a college simply because it happens to be the nearest to your home or it has cheapest tuition. There are other significant qualifications that need to be considered in addition to cost and location. But before we talk about what those qualifications are and the questions you should be asking, we'll cover what a physical therapist does and what the educational options are.

What Does a Physical Therapist Do?

Flagstaff Arizona physical therapist helping female patient to walk

Physical therapists practice in a variety of locations, such as Flagstaff AZ hospitals, health clinics, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and health clubs. What the facilities all share in common is that they have the equipment for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As previously mentioned, physical therapists help patients that are struggling with a lack of mobility and in many cases pain caused by illness or injury. After patient diagnosis, they develop a program of treatment to resolve the mobility problems and lessen or eliminate any pain. They also strive to stop any progression of the disability. Although the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Head injuries
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Sports injuries
  • Fire injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists practice in close partnerships with other Flagstaff AZ health specialists, including chiropractors, physicians, registered nurses and dentists. They may also supervise one or more physical therapy assistants who work for them in diagnosing and treating their patients. Something to keep in mind for anyone considering going into the physical therapy field, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists often lift patients and heavy equipment, and kneel, crouch and stand for long periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapist Degrees Available

Flagstaff Arizona DPT working with man in pool

There are 3 physical therapy degrees offered for individuals to pursue at the graduate and undergraduate 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 emphasize either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or prepping them to advance to the doctoral level. Following are brief 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 may be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Applicants must have earned a high school diploma or GED to be accepted for enrollment. The degrees are most often offered by community colleges, and require two years to complete. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is typically a component of the program.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapist training to prepare candidates to advance to the doctoral level. Although they are not required to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an important initial step to practicing as a PT. Similar to the majority of bachelor's degrees, they normally require four years to complete and usually include an internship program of at least 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are a requirement in order to become a practicing licensed 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 3 years to finish, making the overall investment of time 7 years in most cases. Clinical or practical training is an intregal element along with the substantial lab and classroom instruction. Consequently the fulfillment of an internship is required, 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 attainable in the United States. A number of practicing physical therapists having a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the current licensing mandate for a doctorate was instituted.

Physical Therapy Degrees Online

Flagstaff Arizona woman taking physical therapy training onlineWhile not as prevalent as the on-campus alternatives, there are some accredited online physical therapy programs available, 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 school campus or in proximity of an available internship. Fortunately, the online portion of the program may be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Flagstaff AZ residence. Online schools are not only partially more accessible, but in a number of instances more affordable. Tuition may be somewhat less than similar on campus options, and costs for commuting are minimized. And a number of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These advantages can make the online option the ideal choice for those students that are dedicated enough to attend classes at home.

Questions to Ask Physical Therapist Schools

By now you most likely have made a decision regarding some of your initial questions, such as the type of physical therapy degree you intend to obtain, where you want to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to spend for your education. But considering there are numerous PT colleges within the Flagstaff AZ area and throughout Arizona, you'll need to explore additional qualifications also so as to further narrow your list of college options. Furthermore, you need to make sure that you select the program that is right for you. That's the reason we have compiled a list of critical questions that you need to ask the physical therapy schools you are reviewing. Ask all of the potential schools these questions prior to making a final selection.

Is the Physical Therapist School Accredited?  Find out if the schools you are considering have received accreditation from a regional or a national 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 school, it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's important that both the physical therapy program and school you select are accredited, not just the school. Also, make sure that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Along with guaranteeing that you receive an excellent education, accreditation may be required for state licensing and even for securing student loans or financial aid.

What is the Program's Standing? In addition to accreditation, it's essential that the college and program you choose have exceptional reputations within the physical therapy community. There are several ways you can investigate a PT school's reputation, starting with asking for references from employers that they place their graduates with. You may also search for online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Get in touch with some Flagstaff AZ physical therapy clinics or other healthcare facilities that you might be interested in working for and ask if they can offer any advice about your program selections. It might also be prudent to contact the Arizona Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been filed against the colleges.

What is the School's Job Placement Percentage? There are a two important statistics that you should know about all of the physical therapist colleges you are reviewing. First is their graduation rate. A low rate might indicate that students left because of displeasure with the program, the instructors, or both. Once the students have graduated, how many of them are being hired with the assistance of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Flagstaff AZ area? If a school has a high job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the healthcare field is good or even outstanding. It also confirms that the college has a broad network of contacts to help students gain internships or employment after graduation.

Does the Program Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's important that the school you enroll in provides both superior training and a curriculum that supports 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) as well as a degree from an accredited physical therapy college. While licensing requirements vary state by state for PTA and PT graduates, a number of states require a minimum number of clinical hours be performed and passing scores on additional tests.

Are Internships Offered? Ask if the physical therapist colleges you are reviewing have relationships with Flagstaff AZ hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent means to receive practical training in a clinical setting, they are also a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they may help students and graduates develop professional connections in the Flagstaff healthcare community and assist with job placement after licensing.

What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the type of student that prefers to sit way in the back of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a small class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapy colleges you are looking at what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to sit in on one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you a chance to talk with some of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the physical therapist program as well.

Where is the Program Located? For many students, the physical therapy school they choose will have to be within commuting distance of their Flagstaff AZ home. Those who have chosen to attend online classes naturally will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. One thing to consider is that if you decide to enroll in a school that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges normally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges generally charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.

Is Financial Aid Offered? The majority of DPT schools provide some type of financial support to their prospective students. Find out if the schools you are looking at have a financial aid department and see what type of help is obtainable. At a minimum they should help in obtaining a student loan or any grants you might be eligible for. A number of physical therapist colleges offer scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before you eliminate a school because the tuition is too expensive, find out what financial aid may be available.

Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to verify that the physical therapy college you ultimately choose can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you choose to continue working while you attend classes. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Flagstaff AZ area, check that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would need to carry. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss due to work, illness or family obligations.

Learn More About Flagstaff Physical Therapy Degrees

Choose the Best Flagstaff Physical Therapy School

Deciding on the right physical therapy program is an important first decision you need to make to launch a gratifying career in the health care field. As we have discussed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and school you choose should both have outstanding reputations and accreditation. However there are other critical questions that you need to ask regarding your college of choice as well. As you commence your search for a physical therapist college bear in mind that a number of factors will guide you to your ultimate decision. You might decide to visit different colleges to view their facilities and talk with active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this college help me achieve my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By following our list of additional questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the field so you can make the ideal choice. And with the proper education and training, you can achieve your dream to become a licensed physical therapist in Flagstaff Arizona.


 

Flagstaff Physical Therapy Major Programs | Main | Flagstaff Physical Therapist Schools