How to Find the Right Physical Therapy Course Near Florence Arizona
Getting a physical therapy degree near Florence AZ is an important first step to beginning a rewarding career in the medical care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been disabled due to injury or illness regain mobility and function. But before they may legally practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they need to acquire the necessary training and education. A PT must also become licensed in every state, a large number mandating that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So prior to selecting a physical therapy school, it's necessary to evaluate the ones you are looking at to make sure they will deliver a superior education and comply with your state's licensing standards. What you do not want to do is enroll in a school simply because it happens to be the closest to your residence or it has the lowest tuition. There are other important qualifications that need to be considered along with location and cost. 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?
Physical therapists practice in a variety of settings, such as Florence 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 the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As previously mentioned, physical therapists help individuals that are struggling with a lack of mobility and often pain due to illness or injury. After patient diagnosis, they develop a course of treatment to resolve the mobility problems and lessen or eradicate any pain. They also strive to prevent any advancement of the disability. While the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are abundant, they include:
- Arthritis or Osteoporosis
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Cardiac arrest
- Sports injuries
- Fire injuries
- Hip Replacement
- Cerebral Palsy
Licensed physical therapists work in close affiliation with other Florence AZ health professionals, including doctors, chiropractors, dentists and nurses. They can also oversee several physical therapy assistants who work for them in diagnosing and treating their patients. One thing to take note of for anyone thinking about getting into the physical therapy field, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists often lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and kneel, crouch and stand for long periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapy Degree Options
There are 3 physical therapist degree options offered for individuals to pursue at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these alternatives, the only degree that is offered that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees target either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or preparing them to advance to the doctoral level. Following are brief summaries of degree levels that are offered to prospective students in the Florence AZ area:
- Associate Degrees prepare students to become physical therapy assistants, or may be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Candidates must have obtained a high school diploma or equivalent to qualify for enrollment. The programs are typically offered by community colleges, and take about two years for completion. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is normally a portion of the program.
- Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapist training to prep candidates to move up to the doctoral level. Although they are not required to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an essential first step to becoming a PT. As with the majority of bachelor's degrees, they generally take 4 years to finish and commonly include an internship program of at least 500 hours.
- Doctorate Degrees are a requirement 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 3 years to complete, making the overall commitment 7 years in the majority of cases. Clinical training is an intregal component along with the extensive lab and classroom instruction. Therefor the fulfillment of an internship is mandated, not only for graduation but in several states for licensing also.
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 attainable in the United States. A number of practicing physical therapists holding a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the present licensing mandate for a doctorate was instituted.
Physical Therapy Online Colleges
While not as prevalent as the more traditional alternatives, there are a number of accredited online physical therapy programs available, more so at the graduate level. Because of 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 school campus or nearby a sponsored internship. Fortunately, the online segment of the course of study may be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Florence AZ home. Online programs are not only partially more accessible, but in a number of instances more economical. Tuition might be significantly less than similar on-campus options, and expenses for commuting are reduced. And many of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These benefits can make the online alternative the best choice for those students that are dedicated enough to attend classes at home.
Subjects to Ask Physical Therapy Programs
By now you most likely have made a decision concerning several of your preliminary queries, like the type of physical therapy degree you intend to obtain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to invest in your education. But because there are numerous PT colleges within the Florence AZ area and across Arizona, you'll need to research other qualifications also in order to further narrow your list of college choices. Furthermore, you want to make certain that you choose the college that is right for you. That's why we have put together a list of essential questions that you need to ask the physical therapy colleges you are thinking about. Ask each of the potential schools these questions before making an ultimate selection.
Is the Physical Therapy School Accredited? Ask if the colleges you are looking at have received accreditation from a regional or a national organization. As earlier mentioned, 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 obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapist school and program you select are accredited, not just the school. Additionally, verify that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. In addition to guaranteeing that you receive an excellent education, accreditation might be mandated for state licensing and even for securing student loans or financial assistance.
What is the College's Ranking? Along with accreditation, it's imperative that the college and program you pick have exceptional reputations within the physical therapy community. There are several ways you can look into a PT program's reputation, starting with asking for references from employers that they refer their students to. You may also search for online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. Get in touch with several Florence AZ physical therapist clinics or other healthcare facilities that you may have an interest in working for and ask if they can offer any insight about your school selections. It may 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 schools.
What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? There are a two significant statistics that you should find out about all of the physical therapy colleges you are looking at. First is their graduation rate. A lower rate might mean that students dropped out because of displeasure with the program, the teachers, or both. Once the students have graduated, how many of them are being hired with the support of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Florence 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 perhaps excellent. It also affirms that the school has a large network of contacts to assist students obtain internships or employment upon graduation.
Does the College Support Licensing Requirements? It's important that the school you choose provides both exceptional training and a curriculum that satisfies the licensing requirements for Arizona or the state where you will be practicing. In each state a passing score is required on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) as well as a degree from an accredited physical therapy school. Although licensing requirements differ state by state for PT and PTA graduates, a number of states require a minimum number of clinical hours be completed and passing scores on additional exams.
Are Internships Offered? Find out if the physical therapy colleges you are evaluating have relationships with Florence AZ hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent manner to receive practical experience in a clinical setting, they are additionally a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they can help students and graduates develop professional connections in the Florence medical community and assist with job placement once licensed.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of person that likes to sit way in the back of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will likely prefer a smaller class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapy schools you are reviewing what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you a chance to converse with some of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the physical therapist program as well.
Where is the School Located? For a number of students, the physical therapy school they pick will have to be within travelling distance of their Florence AZ residence. Those who have chosen to attend online classes naturally will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. One thing to consider is that if you choose to enroll in a college that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you may be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges generally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges generally charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Most DPT schools supply some form of financial support to their prospective students. Ask if the schools you are looking at have a financial aid office and see what type of help is offered. They at least should help in acquiring a student loan or any grants you may be eligible for. Some physical therapy colleges offer scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before you eliminate a college because the tuition is beyond your budget, ask what financial aid may be available.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must verify that the physical therapist college you ultimately choose can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you choose to continue working while attending classes. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Florence AZ area, confirm that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would need to enroll in. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Florence Physical Therapy School
Selecting the ideal physical therapist college is a necessary initial decision you have to make to start a fulfilling career in the medical field. As we have discussed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and school you pick should both have outstanding reputations and be accredited. However there are additional critical questions that you should ask concerning your school of choice as well. As you begin your search for a physical therapy program keep in mind that many factors will guide you to your ultimate decision. You may decide to go to different colleges to view their facilities and speak to current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this college help me reach 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 ideal selection. And with the proper education and training, you can achieve your dream of becoming a licensed physical therapist in Florence Arizona.