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

Florence Arizona physical therapist working with female patient holding exercise ballObtaining a physical therapy degree near Florence AZ is an essential first step to starting a fulfilling career in the health care field. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been incapacitated as a result of illness or injury regain function and mobility. But before they can practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they must receive the appropriate education and training. A PT must additionally become licensed in all states, many requiring that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So before selecting a physical therapy school, it's necessary to research the ones you are considering to make sure they will supply a superior education and meet your state's licensing standards. What you do not want to do is select a school just because it happens to be the nearest to your home or it has the lowest tuition. There are other significant qualifications that need to be evaluated in addition to location and cost. But before we talk about what those qualifications are and the questions you should be asking, we'll address what a physical therapist does and the options for education.

What is a Physical Therapist's Job Description?

Florence Arizona physical therapist assisting woman to walk

Physical therapists work in varying locations, including Florence AZ private practices, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and sports facilities. What the facilities all have in common is that they are equipped for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As earlier stated, physical therapists help people that are suffering from a lack of mobility and often pain due to illness or injury. After patient diagnosis, they design a program of treatment to deal with the mobility problems and lessen or eradicate any pain. They also endeavor to stop any progression of the disability. Although the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Osteoporosis and Arthritis
  • Car or motor cycle accidents
  • Head injuries
  • Heart attacks
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Fire injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists work in close affiliation with other Florence AZ medical professionals, including doctors, chiropractors, registered nurses and dentists. They can also manage one or more physical therapy assistants who work for them assisting with the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. Something to keep in mind for anyone considering going into the physical therapy profession, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists often lift patients and heavy equipment, and kneel, crouch and stand for extended periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapist Degrees Offered

Florence Arizona physical therapist working with patient in pool

There are 3 physical therapy degree options offered for students to enroll in at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these alternatives, the one degree that is attainable 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 degrees that are offered 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 GED to qualify for enrollment. The programs are typically made available by community or junior colleges, and take about 2 years to complete. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is normally a portion of the course of study.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapy education to ready candidates to move up to the doctoral level. While they are not required to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an integral preliminary step to practicing as a PT. As with most bachelor's degrees, they normally take four years to complete and often incorporate 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). In addition to the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes 3 years to finish, making the overall commitment 7 years in the majority of cases. Clinical training is an important component in addition to the substantial lab and classroom instruction. Therefor the completion of an internship is mandated, not solely for graduation but in some 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 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 before the present licensing requirement for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapy Schools Online

Florence Arizona female student taking physical therapy courses onlineWhile not as prevalent as the more traditional alternatives, there are a number of accredited online physical therapist programs offered, even more 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 near the school campus or in proximity of an available internship. Fortunately, the online portion of the curriculum may be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Florence AZ residence. Online schools are not only partially more accessible, but in a number of instances more economical. Tuition might be significantly less than comparable on-campus options, and costs for commuting are minimized. And many of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These benefits can make the online option the ideal choice for those students that are motivated enough to attend classes at home.

Topics to Ask Physical Therapy Colleges

At this point you most likely have made a decision regarding several of your initial questions, such as the kind of physical therapist degree you intend to attain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much you can afford to spend for your education. But because there are so many PT colleges within the Florence AZ area and across Arizona, you'll have to research other qualifications also so as to further narrow your list of college options. Moreover, you want to make sure that you select the school that is right for you. That's why we have collected a list of essential questions that you need to ask the physical therapist programs you are considering. Ask each of the competing schools these questions prior to making a final selection.

Is the Physical Therapy School Accredited?  Ask if the schools you are looking at have earned 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 choose an online program, it can also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapist program and school you select are accredited, not simply the school. Additionally, check that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Besides ensuring that you obtain an excellent education, accreditation may be required for state licensing and even for securing student loans or financial aid.

What is the Program's Reputation? Along with accreditation, it's imperative that the college and program you choose have exceptional reputations within the physical therapy profession. There are several ways you can research a PT school's reputation, beginning with asking for references from employers that they refer their students to. You can also search for online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Contact a few Florence AZ physical therapy centers or other healthcare facilities that you may be interested in working for and ask if they can give you any recommendations about your school options. It might 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 College's Job Placement Percentage? There are a couple of useful statistics that you should find out about each of the physical therapist schools you are looking at. First is their graduation rate. A lower rate might indicate that students left due to dissatisfaction with the program, the teachers, or both. Once the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being hired with the support of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Florence AZ area? If a program has a higher job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the healthcare field is good or even excellent. It also confirms that the college has a broad network of contacts to help students gain internships or jobs upon graduation.

Does the Program Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the college you select provides both superior training and a course of study that supports the licensing requirements for Arizona or the state where you will be working. In each state a passing score is required on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapist school. Although licensing requirements differ state by state for PTA and PT graduates, a number of states require a minimum number of clinical hours be completed and passing scores on supplemental tests.

Are Internships Sponsored? Ask if the physical therapy colleges you are interested in have relationships with Florence AZ clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only a great way to receive hands on training in a clinical setting, they are additionally a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they can assist students and graduates develop professional relationships in the Florence health care community and assist with job placement once licensed.

How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of person that likes to sit way in the back of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a smaller class size. Smaller classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapy schools you are researching 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 ultimate decision. This will also give you an opportunity to converse with several of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the physical therapy program also.

Where is the Program Located? For many students, the physical therapist school they choose will need to be within driving distance of their Florence AZ residence. Individuals who have decided to attend classes online naturally will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. One thing to consider is that if you choose to enroll in a school that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you may be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges usually charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges generally charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Help Provided? The majority of DPT schools supply some type of financial aid to their prospective students. Find out if the colleges you are looking at have a financial aid department and see what type of assistance is offered. They at least should help in securing a student loan or any grants you may qualify for. A number of physical therapy schools offer scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before you eliminate a college because the tuition is beyond your budget, ask what financial assistance might be available.

Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to confirm that the physical therapy school you ultimately pick can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you opt to continue working while you attend classes. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Florence AZ area, check that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, verify if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would need to carry. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Learn More About Florence Online Physical Therapy Programs

Choose the Right Florence Physical Therapist School

Picking the ideal physical therapy school is an important initial decision you need to make to launch a gratifying career in the health care field. As we have covered in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and college you enroll in should both have exceptional reputations and be accredited. However there are additional important questions that you need to ask regarding your school of choice as well. As you begin your search for a physical therapist college keep in mind that numerous variables will lead you to your final decision. You might decide to go to different campuses to view their facilities and speak with active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this college help me realize 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 field so you can make the ideal choice. And with the proper training and education, you can achieve your dream to become a licensed physical therapist in Florence Arizona.


 

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