How to Pick the Right Physical Therapy Course Near Florence Arizona
Getting a physical therapy degree near Florence AZ is a critical first step to starting a fulfilling career in the health care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been debilitated due to illness or injury gain back mobility and function. But before they can practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they need to get the proper education and training. A PT must also be licensed in every state, a large number requiring that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So before enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's essential to investigate those you are thinking about to make certain they will deliver a superior education and meet your state's licensing criteria. What you should not do is select a school simply because it happens to be the closest to your residence or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other important qualifications that must be evaluated in addition to 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?
Physical therapists practice in varying 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 are equipped for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As earlier mentioned, physical therapists help people that are suffering from a lack of mobility and in many cases pain caused by injury or illness. After patient diagnosis, they create a program of treatment to deal with the mobility problems and reduce or eradicate any pain. They also strive to prevent any progression of the disability. While the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are numerous, they include:
- Osteoporosis and Arthritis
- Car or motor cycle accidents
- Head injuries
- Heart attacks
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Fire injuries
- Hip Replacement
- Multiple Sclerosis
Licensed physical therapists work in close partnerships with other Florence AZ health specialists, including doctors, chiropractors, registered nurses and dentists. They can also supervise one or more physical therapy assistants who work for them in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. Something to bear in mind for anyone thinking about going into the physical therapy profession, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and kneel, crouch and stand for long periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapy Degrees Offered
There are three physical therapist degree options offered for students to pursue at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these alternatives, the single degree that is offered that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees focus on either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or readying them to advance to the doctoral level. Below are short explanations of degree levels that are available to prospective students in the Florence AZ area:
- Associate Degrees educate students to become physical therapy assistants, or can be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Applicants must have earned a high school diploma or equivalent to qualify for enrollment. The degrees are typically offered by junior or community colleges, and require 2 years to complete. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is typically part of the course of study.
- Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapy education to ready candidates to advance to the doctoral level. While they are not a requirement to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an essential preliminary step to practicing as a PT. As with the majority of bachelor's degrees, they generally take four years to complete and usually 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 must also 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 investment of time seven years in the majority of cases. Clinical training is an important element along with the substantial lab and classroom instruction. Therefor the completion of an internship is mandated, not just for graduation but in several states for licensing also.
The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) has replaced the Master's of Physical Therapy (MPT), which has been phased out and is no longer offered in the USA. Some licensed physical therapists having a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the current licensing mandate for a doctorate was implemented.
Physical Therapist Degrees Online
While not as prevalent as the more traditional alternatives, there are many accredited online physical therapist degrees available, even more at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on nature of the training, internships and clinical lab work are integrated with the online classes. This requires that the student live near the school campus or nearby a sponsored internship. However, the online portion of the program may be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Florence AZ residence. Online programs are not only partially more accessible, but in a number of cases more affordable. Tuition might be significantly lower than similar on-campus options, and costs for commuting are minimized. And a number of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These advantages may make the online option the best choice for those students that are dedicated enough to attend classes at home.
Topics to Ask Physical Therapist Schools
At this point you most likely have made a decision regarding some of your initial questions, including the type of physical therapist degree you want to attain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much you can afford to spend for your education. But because there are numerous PT schools within the Florence AZ area and throughout Arizona, you'll need to explore additional qualifications as well so as to further narrow your list of school options. Also, you want to make certain that you pick the college that is best for you. That's the reason we have compiled a list of critical questions that you need to ask the physical therapist schools you are reviewing. Ask all of the potential schools these questions before making an ultimate decision.
Is the Physical Therapy College Accredited? Find out if the colleges you are reviewing have received accreditation from a national or a regional organization. As previously stated, if you are pursuing a doctorate 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 important that both the physical therapy program and school you enroll in are accredited, not simply the school. Also, verify that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Besides guaranteeing that you receive a quality education, accreditation may be required for state licensing and even for getting student loans or financial aid.
What is the Program's Ranking? In addition to accreditation, it's important that the college and program you select have outstanding reputations within the physical therapy profession. There are several ways you can investigate a PT program's reputation, starting with requesting references from employers that they refer their students to. You can also check online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. Call some Florence AZ physical therapist clinics or other medical care facilities that you may be interested in working for and ask if they can give you any insight about your school options. It may also be prudent to contact the Arizona Attorney General and school licensing authority to find out if any complaints have been filed against the colleges.
What is the Program's Job Placement Percentage? There are a couple of important statistics that you need to find out about all of the physical therapist programs you are reviewing. First is their graduation rate. A low rate may mean that students left because of dissatisfaction with the program, the instructors, or both. Once the students have graduated, how many of them are being placed in jobs 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 medical care field is good or perhaps exceptional. It also verifies that the program has a broad 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 enroll in provides both excellent training and a course of study that supports 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 school. While licensing requirements vary state by state for PT and PTA graduates, a number of states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be performed as well as passing scores on supplemental tests.
Are Internships Offered? Inquire if the physical therapist programs you are evaluating have partnerships with Florence AZ hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships a great manner 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 supplemental benefit, they may help graduates and students establish professional connections in the Florence medical community and assist with job placement after licensing.
What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of student that likes to sit way in the back of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will likely want a smaller class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapy colleges you are looking at what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you a chance to converse with a few of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapist program as well.
Where is the Program Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapy college they select will have to be within commuting distance of their Florence AZ home. Individuals who have chosen 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 importance. One thing to keep in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a college that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges often charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges frequently charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.
Is Financial Support Provided? The majority of DPT schools provide some type of financial support to their potential students. Find out if the colleges you are examining have a financial aid office and find out what type of assistance is offered. At a minimum they should help in acquiring a student loan or any grants you might be eligible for. Some physical therapy schools offer scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before you eliminate a college because the tuition is too expensive, learn what financial aid might be available.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must confirm that the physical therapy school you ultimately choose can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you choose to continue working while attending school. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Florence AZ area, make sure that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, find out if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would have to carry. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Florence Physical Therapy School
Deciding on the best physical therapist school is a necessary initial decision you have to make to launch a gratifying career in the medical field. As we have addressed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and college you select should both have exceptional reputations and be accredited. But there are other critical questions that you should ask pertaining to your school of choice as well. As you begin your search for a physical therapy program keep in mind that a number of factors will guide you to your final decision. You may decide to visit different schools to see their facilities and talk with active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this college help me accomplish 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 right selection. And with the necessary education and training, you can achieve your dream of becoming a licensed physical therapist in Florence Arizona.