How to Find the Right Physical Therapist College Near Flowing Wells Arizona
Earning a physical therapist degree near Flowing Wells AZ is a critical first step to launching a rewarding career in the health care field. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been disabled as a result of illness or injury gain back mobility and function. But before they may legally practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they need to acquire the proper training and education. A PT must additionally be licensed in all states, many requiring that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So before enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's necessary to investigate those you are looking at to ensure they will furnish a superior education and comply with your state's licensing requirements. What you do not want to do is choose a school just because it happens to be the nearest to your residence or it has cheapest tuition. There are other important qualifications that need to be considered besides cost and location. But before we discuss 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?
Physical therapists practice in varying locations, including Flowing Wells AZ private practices, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and health clubs. What the facilities all have in common is that they are equipped for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As previously stated, physical therapists help people that are struggling with a lack of mobility and in many cases pain due to illness or injury. After patient diagnosis, they create a program of treatment to deal with the mobility problems and reduce or eliminate any pain. They also endeavor to stop any progression of the disability. Though the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are numerous, they include:
- Osteoporosis and Arthritis
- Car or motor cycle accidents
- Cardiac arrest
- Sports injuries
- Fire injuries
- Knee Replacement
- Multiple Sclerosis
Licensed physical therapists practice in close partnerships with other Flowing Wells AZ health professionals, including chiropractors, physicians, registered nurses and dentists. They may also manage several physical therapy assistants who work under them in diagnosing and treating their patients. One thing to bear in mind for anyone considering entering the physical therapy profession, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists routinely lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and stand, crouch and kneel for long periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapist Degrees Available
There are 3 physical therapist degrees available for individuals to enroll in 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 target either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or readying them to progress to the doctoral level. Following are brief descriptions of degrees that are offered to prospective students in the Flowing Wells AZ area:
- Associate Degrees educate students to become physical therapy assistants, or may be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Applicants must have obtained a high school diploma or equivalent to be accepted for enrollment. The degrees are typically offered by community or junior colleges, and require two years for completion. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is typically a portion of the curriculum.
- Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapy education to ready candidates to progress to the doctoral level. Although they are not required to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an important first step to becoming a PT. As with the majority of bachelor's degrees, they generally take 4 years to finish and often include an internship program of at least 500 hours.
- Doctorate Degrees are required in order to become a practicing licensed physical therapist. The degree program also must 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 complete, making the total investment of time seven years in most cases. Practical or clinical training is an intregal component along with the considerable lab and classroom instruction. Consequently the fulfillment of an internship is mandated, not only for graduation but in a number of 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 phased out and is no longer available in the USA. Some licensed 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 Degrees Online
Although not as prevalent as the more traditional alternatives, there are some accredited online physical therapist degrees offered, more so at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on nature of the training, clinical lab work and internships are incorporated with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live close to the college campus or in proximity of a sponsored internship. However, the online part of the program may be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Flowing Wells AZ home. Online programs are not only partially more accessible, but in a number of cases more affordable. Tuition can be somewhat lower than comparable on-campus options, and expenditures for commuting are reduced. And many of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These advantages may make the online alternative the right 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 come to decision regarding some of your preliminary queries, including the type of physical therapy degree you would like to attain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to spend for your education. But because there are numerous PT schools within the Flowing Wells AZ area and throughout Arizona, you'll have to explore additional qualifications as well in order to further narrow your list of school choices. Also, you need to make sure that you enroll in the program that is best for you. That's the reason we have put together a list of important questions that you must ask the physical therapy programs you are reviewing. Ask each of the competing colleges these questions prior to making a final selection.
Is the Physical Therapist School Accredited? Find out if the programs you are considering 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 select an online school, it can also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's important that both the physical therapist school and program you enroll in are accredited, not just the school. Additionally, verify that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Along with ensuring that you receive a quality education, accreditation may be required for state licensing as well as for getting student loans or financial aid.
What is the Program's Standing? In addition to accreditation, it's important that the school and program you choose have exceptional reputations within the physical therapy profession. There are a number of ways you can research a PT school's reputation, starting with requesting references from employers that they place their graduates with. You may also search for online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. Call some Flowing Wells AZ physical therapy centers or other health care facilities that you may have an interest in working for and ask if they can offer any advice about your school options. It might also be a good idea 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 School's Job Placement Percentage? There are a couple of relevant statistics that you should find out about each of the physical therapy colleges you are considering. One is their graduation rate. A low rate might indicate that students dropped out because of dissatisfaction with the program, the teachers, or both. Once the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being placed in jobs with the help of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Flowing Wells AZ area? If a school has a high job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the health care community is good or perhaps outstanding. It also verifies that the college has a wide network of contacts to help students get internships or jobs upon graduation.
Does the College Support Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the program you select furnishes both superior 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 therapy college. While licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PT and PTA graduates, some states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be performed and passing scores on additional tests.
Are Internship Programs Provided? Ask if the physical therapy schools you are evaluating have associations with Flowing Wells AZ hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only a terrific means to obtain practical training in a clinical setting, they are also a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they may assist students and graduates develop professional relationships in the Flowing Wells healthcare community and assist with job placement after licensing.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of person that likes to sit far in the rear of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a small class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapy schools you are looking at what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you a chance to speak with a few of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the physical therapist program also.
Where is the College Located? For many students, the physical therapist school they decide on will need to be within commuting distance of their Flowing Wells AZ residence. Those who have chosen to attend classes online naturally will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of importance. One thing to bear in mind is that if you decide 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 commonly charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges typically charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.
Is Financial Support Provided? Most DPT schools supply some form of financial aid to their prospective students. Find out if the schools you are examining have a financial assistance department and see what type of help is offered. They at least should help in getting a student loan or any scholarships you may qualify for. Some physical therapist colleges offer scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before eliminating a school because the tuition is too expensive, find out what financial assistance might be available.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must confirm that the physical therapist program you finally select can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you choose to continue working while you attend classes. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Flowing Wells AZ area, check that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, find out if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours 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.
Choose the Best Flowing Wells Physical Therapist School
Selecting the ideal physical therapy school is a necessary initial decision you need to make to launch a fulfilling career in the health care field. As we have covered in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and school you select should both have excellent reputations and be accredited. But there are other important questions that you should ask regarding your college of choice as well. As you start your search for a physical therapist school keep in mind that many variables will guide you toward your ultimate decision. You may decide to visit each of the schools to view their facilities and talk to active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this program help me reach 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 field so you can make the best choice. And with the proper education and training, you can achieve your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in Flowing Wells Arizona.