How to Choose the Right Physical Therapist Course Near Florence Arizona
Earning a physical therapy degree near Florence AZ is a critical first step to beginning a fulfilling career in the healthcare field. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been incapacitated due to injury or illness gain back function and mobility. But before they can practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they need to obtain the appropriate education and training. A PT must also become licensed in every state, many mandating that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So prior to choosing a physical therapy school, it's necessary to evaluate the ones you are considering to make sure they will deliver a quality education and meet your state's licensing requirements. 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 important qualifications that must be evaluated along with cost and location. But before we discuss 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 Do Physical Therapists Do?
Physical therapists work in diverse settings, such as Florence AZ private practices, hospitals, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and health clubs. What the facilities all have in common is that they are equipped for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As previously stated, physical therapists help individuals that are struggling with a lack of mobility and often pain due to illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they design a course of treatment to resolve the mobility issues and reduce or eliminate any pain. They also try to prevent any progression of the disability. While the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are numerous, they include:
- Arthritis or Osteoporosis
- Car or motor cycle accidents
- Head injuries
- Heart attacks
- Sports injuries
- Fire injuries
- Knee Replacement
- Multiple Sclerosis
Licensed physical therapists practice in close association with other Florence AZ medical specialists, including doctors, chiropractors, dentists and nurses. They may also oversee one or more physical therapy assistants who work for them assisting with the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. Something to take note of for anyone thinking about entering the physical therapy field, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift patients and heavy equipment, and kneel, crouch and stand for long periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapy Degrees
There are three physical therapy degrees offered for students to pursue at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these options, the single degree that is available that qualifies the graduate to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees target either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or preparing them to progress to the doctoral level. Following are brief explanations of degrees that are offered to prospective students in the Florence AZ area:
- Associate Degrees train students to be physical therapy assistants, or can be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Candidates must have a high school diploma or GED to qualify for enrollment. The programs are most often provided by community or junior colleges, and require two years for completion. An internship or other form of clinical training is usually a portion of the program.
- Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapy training to ready students to progress to the doctoral level. Although they are not required to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an essential preliminary step to practicing as a PT. As with most bachelor's degrees, they typically require 4 years to complete and often include an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
- Doctorate Degrees are mandated if you want to become a licensed practicing physical therapist. The degree program also must 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 finish, making the total investment of time seven years in most cases. Clinical or practical training is an intregal element along with the considerable classroom and lab instruction. Consequently 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 replaced the Master's of Physical Therapy (MPT), which has been eliminated and is no longer attainable in the USA. A number of practicing physical therapists having a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the existing licensing requirement for a doctorate was implemented.
Physical Therapy Online Programs
Although not as prevalent as the more traditional alternatives, there are a number of accredited online physical therapy degrees available, even more at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on structure of the training, clinical lab work and internships are combined with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live near the school campus or in proximity of an available internship. Fortunately, the online portion of the curriculum may be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Florence AZ residence. Online schools are not only partially more accessible, but in a number of instances more economical. Tuition may be somewhat less than comparable on-campus options, and costs for commuting are reduced. And many of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These benefits can make the online alternative the right choice for those students that are dedicated enough to attend classes at home.
Questions to Ask Physical Therapist Programs
At this point you probably have come to decision regarding several of your initial queries, including the type of physical therapist degree you want to obtain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to invest in your education. But since there are numerous PT colleges within the Florence AZ area and throughout Arizona, you'll need to research other qualifications also so as to further reduce your list of college choices. Moreover, you need to be sure that you choose the program that is right for you. That's why we have compiled a list of important questions that you need to ask the physical therapist colleges you are thinking about. Ask all of the potential colleges these questions before making an ultimate selection.
Is the Physical Therapy College Accredited? Ask if the programs you are looking at have earned accreditation from a regional or a national organization. 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 select an online school, it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's essential that both the physical therapy school and program you enroll in are accredited, not just the school. Additionally, verify that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Along with guaranteeing that you obtain a quality education, accreditation might be mandated for state licensing and even for getting student loans or financial aid.
What is the College's Ranking? Along with accreditation, it's imperative that the school and program you pick have excellent reputations within the physical therapist community. There are a number of ways you can look into a PT college's reputation, starting with asking for references from employers that they place their graduates with. You may also check online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Get in touch with several Florence AZ physical therapy clinics or other medical care facilities that you might have an interest in working for and ask if they can offer any recommendations about your college selections. It might 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 Program's Job Placement Rate? There are a two significant statistics that you need to know about all of the physical therapist colleges you are looking at. First is their graduation rate. A lower rate may suggest that students left due to dissatisfaction 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 Florence AZ area? If a college has a higher job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the health care community is good or even excellent. It also affirms that the program has a wide network of contacts to assist students get internships or jobs upon graduation.
Does the College Support Licensing Requirements? It's important that the college you select furnishes both superior training and a course of study that supports 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) in addition to 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 and passing scores on additional exams.
Are Internships Offered? Ask if the physical therapist programs you are reviewing have associations with Florence AZ clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only a terrific means to receive hands on experience in a clinical setting, they are also a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they may assist graduates and students form professional connections in the Florence health care community and help with obtaining employment after licensing.
What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of student that prefers to sit way in the back of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will probably prefer a small class size. Small classes permit more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapist schools you are considering 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 a chance to talk with some of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the physical therapist program also.
Where is the School Located? For many students, the physical therapy school they pick will need to be within travelling distance of their Florence AZ residence. Students who have opted to attend online classes 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 consider is that if you decide to enroll in a college that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges commonly charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges normally charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.
Is Financial Support Provided? The majority of DPT colleges supply some type of financial aid to their potential students. Inquire if the schools you are looking at have a financial assistance office and see what kind of aid is available. At a minimum they should help in securing a student loan or any grants you may be eligible for. Some physical therapist schools provide scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before eliminating a school because the tuition is beyond your budget, find out what financial assistance might be available.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to verify that the physical therapy program you finally pick can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you opt to continue working while you attend classes. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Florence AZ area, check that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify 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 might miss as a result of work, illness or family obligations.
Choose the Best Florence Physical Therapy School
Selecting the right physical therapy school is a necessary initial decision you need to make to launch a rewarding career in the healthcare profession. As we have discussed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and school you choose should both have excellent reputations and accreditation. But there are other critical questions that you should ask concerning your school of choice as well. As you begin your search for a physical therapist program bear in mind that many variables will guide you toward your ultimate decision. You may decide to go to different campuses to see their facilities and talk with current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this school help me achieve 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 best selection. And with the proper training and education, you can fulfill your dream of becoming a practicing physical therapist in Florence Arizona.