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How to Choose the Right Physical Therapy Course Near Florence Arizona

Florence Arizona physical therapist working with woman holding balance ballReceiving a physical therapist degree near Florence AZ is an important first step to launching a fulfilling career in the health care field. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been debilitated due to illness or injury gain back function and mobility. But before they can practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they need to get the necessary education and training. A PT must also be licensed in all states, many mandating that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So prior to enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's important to evaluate the ones you are thinking about to ensure they will deliver a superior education and comply with your state's licensing requirements. What you do not want to do is choose a college simply because it happens to be the closest to your residence or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other significant qualifications that must be evaluated besides location and cost. But before we cover 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?

Florence Arizona physical therapist assisting woman to walk

Physical therapists practice in a variety of locations, including Florence AZ private practices, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and sports facilities. What the facilities all share in common is that they are equipped for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As earlier stated, physical therapists help individuals that are experiencing a lack of mobility and frequently pain caused by injury or illness. After patient diagnosis, they design a program of treatment to deal with the mobility issues and lessen or eradicate any pain. They also endeavor to prevent any advancement of the disability. Though the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are abundant, they include:

  • Osteoporosis and Arthritis
  • Car or motor cycle accidents
  • Strokes
  • Heart attacks
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Burn injuries
  • Hip Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists work in close association with other Florence AZ medical specialists, including doctors, chiropractors, dentists and nurses. They may also manage one or more physical therapy assistants who work for them assisting with diagnosing and treating their patients. Something to bear in mind for anyone considering entering the physical therapy profession, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists often lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and kneel, crouch and stand for extended periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapist Degrees

Florence Arizona physical therapist working with man in pool

There are 3 physical therapy degree options offered for students to pursue at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these choices, the only degree that is available that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees focus on either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or prepping them to progress to the doctoral level. Below are brief explanations of degree levels that are available to prospective students in the Florence AZ area:

  • Associate Degrees prepare students to practice as physical therapy assistants, or can be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Candidates must have obtained a high school diploma or equivalent to be accepted for enrollment. The degrees are usually provided by junior or community colleges, and require two years to complete. An internship or other form of clinical training is typically a portion of the course of study.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapist training to prep students to advance to the doctoral level. Although they are not required to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an essential initial step to practicing as a PT. As with most bachelor's degrees, they generally take 4 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 practicing licensed 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 total commitment seven years in most cases. Clinical or practical training is an essential component in addition to the extensive classroom and lab instruction. Therefor the completion of an internship is mandated, not just for graduation but in some states for licensing as well.

The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) has taken the place of 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 in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the present licensing requirement for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapy Online Degrees

Florence Arizona female student taking physical therapist courses onlineWhile not as prevalent as the on campus alternatives, there are some accredited online physical therapist degrees available, more so at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on structure of the training, internships and clinical lab work are incorporated with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live close to the school campus or nearby an available internship. However, 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 can be somewhat lower than similar on-campus alternatives, and costs for commuting are minimized. And a number of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These benefits may make the online alternative the best choice for those students that are dedicated enough to attend classes at home.

Questions to Ask Physical Therapy Colleges

At this point you probably have made a decision regarding several of your initial questions, like the kind of physical therapy degree you want to attain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much you can afford to spend for your education. But since there are numerous PT colleges within the Florence AZ area and across Arizona, you'll have to look into other qualifications also in order to further reduce your list of college options. Moreover, you need to make certain that you select the school that is ideal for you. That's why we have collected a list of essential questions that you need to ask the physical therapist colleges you are considering. Ask each of the potential colleges these questions before making an ultimate decision.

Is the Physical Therapy School Accredited?  Ask if the programs you are looking at have received accreditation from a national or a regional agency. As previously mentioned, 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 college, it may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's essential that both the physical therapist school and program you choose are accredited, not just the school. Also, check that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Besides guaranteeing that you obtain a quality education, accreditation may be mandated for state licensing and even for securing student loans or financial aid.

What is the College's Ranking? Along with accreditation, it's essential that the college and program you select have exceptional reputations within the physical therapy profession. There are a number of ways you can investigate a PT program'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. Contact several Florence AZ physical therapy centers or other healthcare facilities that you may have an interest in working for and ask if they can give you any recommendations about your college 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 colleges.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? There are a couple of relevant statistics that you should know about each of the physical therapist colleges you are reviewing. One is their graduation rate. A low rate might indicate that students dropped out because of displeasure with the program, the instructors, or both. Once the students have graduated, how many of them are being hired with the help of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Florence AZ area? If a college has a high job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the health care field is good or perhaps exceptional. It also verifies that the school has a wide network of contacts to help students get internships or jobs after graduation.

Does the College Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the program you select provides both exceptional training and a course of study that satisfies 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) as well as a degree from an accredited physical therapist college. Although licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PTA and PT graduates, many states require a minimum number of clinical hours be completed and passing scores on supplemental exams.

Are Internship Programs Provided? Inquire if the physical therapist colleges you are assessing have partnerships with Florence AZ hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships a great means to obtain practical training in a clinical setting, they are additionally a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they can help graduates and students form professional relationships in the Florence healthcare community and help with obtaining employment once licensed.

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

Where is the Program Located? For many students, the physical therapy college they decide on will have to be within commuting distance of their Florence AZ residence. Individuals who have decided to attend classes online obviously will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. Something to keep in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a program that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges typically charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges usually charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.

Is Financial Support Provided? The majority of DPT schools supply some type of financial support to their prospective students. Find out if the colleges you are examining have a financial assistance office and see what type of help is offered. They at least should help in securing a student loan or any scholarships you might be eligible for. A number of physical therapist schools offer scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before eliminating a program because the tuition is too expensive, learn what financial aid might be available.

Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must verify that the physical therapist college you finally select can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you decide to continue working while attending classes. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Florence AZ area, check that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, check 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 emergencies.

Find Out More About Florence Online Physical Therapy Majors

Enroll in the Best Florence Physical Therapist School

Selecting the right physical therapy program is an important initial decision you have to make to launch a fulfilling career in the medical profession. As we have discussed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and school you enroll in should both have exceptional reputations and accreditation. But there are additional important questions that you should ask pertaining to your school of choice as well. As you commence your search for a physical therapist college bear in mind that a number of variables will lead you to your final decision. You might decide to go to different campuses to see their facilities and speak with 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 necessary training and education, you can fulfill your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in Florence Arizona.


 

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