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How to Choose the Right Physical Therapist Degree Program Near Flowing Wells Arizona

Flowing Wells Arizona physical therapist working with female patient using exercise ballReceiving a physical therapy degree near Flowing Wells AZ is a critical first step to launching a rewarding career in the healthcare field. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been disabled as a result of injury or illness gain back mobility and function. But before they may legally practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they must receive the proper training and education. A PT must additionally become licensed in every state, many requiring that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So prior to selecting a physical therapy school, it's essential to research those you are considering to make certain they will deliver 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 residence or it has cheapest tuition. There are other significant qualifications that need to be evaluated along with cost and location. But before we discuss what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, we'll cover what a physical therapist does and what the educational options are.

What is a Physical Therapist?

Flowing Wells Arizona physical therapist helping woman to walk

Physical therapists work in diverse settings, such as Flowing Wells AZ private practices, hospitals, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and sports facilities. What the facilities all share in common is that they are equipped for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As previously stated, physical therapists help individuals that are experiencing a lack of mobility and often pain due to illness or injury. After patient diagnosis, they create a program of treatment to address the mobility issues and reduce or eliminate any pain. They also try to stop any advancement 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
  • Sciatica
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists practice in close partnerships with other Flowing Wells AZ health specialists, including doctors, chiropractors, registered nurses and dentists. They can also oversee several physical therapy assistants who work for them assisting with the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. One thing to bear in mind for anyone thinking about getting into the physical therapy profession, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift patients and heavy equipment, and stand, crouch and kneel for long periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degrees

Flowing Wells Arizona physical therapist working with man in pool

There are 3 physical therapist degrees offered for individuals to pursue at the undergraduate and graduate 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 prepping them to advance to the doctoral level. Following are brief descriptions of degree levels that are offered to prospective students in the Flowing Wells AZ area:

  • Associate Degrees prepare students to be physical therapy assistants, or can be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Applicants must have a high school diploma or equivalent to be accepted for enrollment. The programs are typically provided by junior or community colleges, and take about 2 years for completion. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is usually part of the course of study.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapy education to ready candidates to progress to the doctoral level. While they are not required to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an integral first step to practicing as a PT. Similar to the majority of bachelor's degrees, they generally require 4 years to finish and commonly incorporate an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are mandated in order 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 three years to finish, making the total commitment seven years in most cases. Clinical training is an intregal component in addition to the extensive lab and classroom instruction. Therefor the completion of an internship is required, not solely 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 phased out and is no longer available in the United States. Some practicing physical therapists having a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the existing licensing mandate for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapy Programs Online

Flowing Wells Arizona female student taking physical therapist courses onlineAlthough not as prevalent as the on-campus alternatives, there are many accredited online physical therapist degrees offered, even more at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on nature of the training, clinical lab work and internships are integrated with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live near the college campus or in proximity of a sponsored internship. Fortunately, the online portion of the course of study can be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Flowing Wells AZ residence. Online schools are not only to some extent 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 reduced. And a number of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These advantages can make the online option the right choice for those students that are dedicated enough to learn at home.

Topics to Ask Physical Therapist Programs

By now you most likely have come to decision concerning a few of your preliminary questions, including the kind of physical therapist degree you would like to attain, where you want to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to spend for your education. But because there are so many PT colleges within the Flowing Wells AZ area and throughout Arizona, you'll have to look into additional qualifications as well so as to further narrow your list of school options. Furthermore, you want to make certain that you choose the program that is right for you. That's why we have compiled a list of critical questions that you need to ask the physical therapist colleges you are thinking about. Ask all of the competing schools these questions prior to making a final decision.

Is the Physical Therapy School Accredited?  Ask if the programs you are considering have received accreditation from a national or a regional organization. As previously mentioned, 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 may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's essential that both the physical therapy school and program you choose are accredited, not simply the school. Also, make sure that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. In addition to ensuring that you receive an excellent education, accreditation might be required for state licensing as well as for securing student loans or financial assistance.

What is the School's Ranking? In addition to accreditation, it's important that the college and program you choose have excellent reputations within the physical therapist community. There are multiple ways you can investigate a PT program's reputation, starting with requesting references from employers that they refer their students to. You can also search for online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. Contact some Flowing Wells AZ physical therapist clinics or other health care facilities that you might be interested in working for and ask if they can give you any recommendations about your school options. It may also be prudent 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 College's Job Placement Rate? There are a two relevant statistics that you need to know 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 due to dissatisfaction with the program, the teachers, or both. Once the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being placed in jobs with the support of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Flowing Wells AZ area? If a college has a higher job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the health care field is good or even exceptional. It also affirms that the college has a large network of contacts to assist students gain internships or jobs upon graduation.

Does the School Support Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the program you enroll in provides both exceptional training and a course of study that supports the licensing criteria for Arizona or the state where you will be working. In every state a passing score is required on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) in addition to a degree from an accredited physical therapy school. Although licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PT and PTA graduates, some states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be completed as well as passing scores on additional exams.

Are Internships Provided? Find out if the physical therapist colleges you are interested in have relationships with Flowing Wells AZ clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a great manner to receive practical training in a clinical environment, they are additionally a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they may help graduates and students form professional relationships in the Flowing Wells healthcare community and help with obtaining employment after licensing.

How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of student that likes to sit way in the back of class or hide in the crowd, you will probably want a smaller class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapist schools you are researching what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to sit in on one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you an opportunity to speak with some of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapist program as well.

Where is the College Located? For many students, the physical therapist college they pick will have to be within travelling distance of their Flowing Wells AZ residence. Individuals who have chosen 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. Something to consider is that if you choose to enroll in a program that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might be required 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? Most DPT colleges supply some form of financial assistance to their prospective students. Find out if the colleges you are examining have a financial aid department and find out what kind of help is obtainable. They at least should help in obtaining a student loan or any scholarships you might be eligible for. Some physical therapist colleges provide scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before you eliminate a program because the tuition is beyond your budget, learn what financial assistance might be available.

Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must verify that the physical therapist college you ultimately select can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly essential if you opt to continue working while attending classes. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Flowing Wells AZ area, check that they are offered. 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 carry. Also, learn what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss because of work, illness or family obligations.

Learn More About Flowing Wells Physical Therapist Degrees

Enroll in the Right Flowing Wells Physical Therapy School

Selecting the best physical therapist program is an important first decision you must make to start a gratifying career in the healthcare field. As we have discussed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and school you pick should both have exceptional reputations and accreditation. However there are other critical questions that you should ask concerning your school of choice as well. As you start your search for a physical therapist school bear in mind that a number of variables will lead you to your final decision. You may want to go to each of the campuses to see their facilities and talk with active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this program help me accomplish my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By adhering to our list of supplemental questions, you will be able to narrow down the options so you can make the appropriate selection. And with the proper training and education, you can fulfill your dream of becoming a practicing physical therapist in Flowing Wells Arizona.


 

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