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How to Pick the Right Physical Therapy Program Near Fortuna Foothills Arizona

Fortuna Foothills Arizona physical therapist working with female patient holding balance ballEarning a physical therapist degree near Fortuna Foothills AZ is a critical first step to beginning a fulfilling career in the healthcare field. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been incapacitated due to illness or injury regain mobility and function. But before they can practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they must receive the necessary education and training. A PT must additionally become licensed in all states, a large number requiring that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So before enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's important to investigate those you are looking at to make sure they will supply a quality education and comply with your state's licensing criteria. What you should not do is select a college just because it happens to be the nearest to your residence or it has the lowest tuition. There are other significant qualifications that need to be considered along with cost and location. 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?

Fortuna Foothills Arizona DPT helping woman to walk

Physical therapists practice in a variety of settings, including Fortuna Foothills AZ hospitals, health clinics, 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 mentioned, physical therapists help patients that are struggling with a lack of mobility and often pain caused by illness or injury. After patient diagnosis, they design a program of treatment to deal with the mobility problems and lessen or eliminate any pain. They also strive to stop any advancement of the disability. Although the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Osteoporosis and Arthritis
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Head injuries
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Sports injuries
  • Fire injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Cerebral Palsy

Licensed physical therapists work in close affiliation with other Fortuna Foothills AZ medical professionals, including chiropractors, physicians, dentists and nurses. They can also supervise one or more physical therapy assistants who work under them in diagnosing and treating their patients. One thing to bear in mind for anyone considering going into the physical therapy field, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift patients and heavy equipment, and kneel, crouch and stand for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degree Options

Fortuna Foothills 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 only degree that is available that qualifies the graduate to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees focus on either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or readying them to progress to the doctoral level. Below are short explanations of degree levels that are offered to prospective students in the Fortuna Foothills AZ area:

  • Associate Degrees train students to be physical therapy assistants, or may be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Candidates must have obtained 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 usually a portion of the course of study.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapist education to prepare candidates to progress to the doctoral level. While they are not a requirement to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an integral initial step to becoming a PT. As with most bachelor's degrees, they normally require four years to complete and often incorporate an internship program of at least 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are required 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). After earning the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes 3 years to finish, making the total investment of time seven years in the majority of cases. Practical or clinical training is an important component in addition to the considerable lab and classroom instruction. Consequently the completion of an internship is mandated, not solely 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 United States. A number of licensed physical therapists holding a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the current licensing mandate for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapy Colleges Online

Fortuna Foothills Arizona woman taking physical therapist classes onlineAlthough not as prevalent as the on-campus alternatives, there are a number of accredited online physical therapist programs available, even more at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on structure of the training, internships and clinical lab work are integrated with the online classes. This requires that the student live close to the college campus or nearby a sponsored internship. However, the online portion of the course of study may be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Fortuna Foothills AZ home. Online schools are not only partially more accessible, but in a number of cases more affordable. Tuition may be somewhat less than similar on campus options, and costs for commuting are minimized. And many of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These benefits may make the online alternative the ideal choice for those students that are dedicated enough to attend classes at home.

Topics to Ask Physical Therapist Colleges

At this point you most likely have made a decision regarding several of your initial queries, such as the kind of physical therapist degree you would like to obtain, where you want to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to spend for your education. But because there are numerous PT colleges within the Fortuna Foothills AZ area and across Arizona, you'll need to explore other qualifications as well so as to further narrow your list of college choices. Moreover, you want to be sure that you select the college that is right for you. That's the reason we have collected a list of important questions that you need to ask the physical therapy programs you are thinking about. Ask each of the competing schools 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 regional or a national agency. As earlier 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 select an online school, it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's important that both the physical therapist school and program you choose are accredited, not just the school. Additionally, check that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Besides ensuring that you obtain an excellent education, accreditation may be required for state licensing as well as for getting student loans or financial assistance.

What is the College's Ranking? Along with accreditation, it's important that the college and program you select have excellent reputations within the physical therapy community. There are several ways you can investigate a PT college's reputation, beginning with requesting references from employers that they refer their students to. You may also check online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Contact a few Fortuna Foothills AZ physical therapy clinics or other healthcare facilities that you may have an interest in working for and ask if they can offer any insight about your school options. It might also be prudent to check with the Arizona Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been filed against the colleges.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? There are a couple of important statistics that you should know about all of the physical therapist colleges you are looking at. First is their graduation rate. A low rate may indicate that students left due to dissatisfaction with the program, the teachers, or both. After the students have graduated, how many of them are being placed in jobs with the assistance of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Fortuna Foothills 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 perhaps outstanding. It also verifies that the school has a broad network of contacts to help students gain internships or jobs upon graduation.

Does the School Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's important that the school you select provides both exceptional training and a course of study that satisfies the licensing criteria for Arizona or the state where you will be practicing. 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 program. Although licensing requirements vary state by state for PT and PTA graduates, some states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be performed and passing scores on supplemental tests.

Are Internships Sponsored? Find out if the physical therapist colleges you are evaluating have partnerships with Fortuna Foothills AZ hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent way to get practical experience in a clinical environment, they are also a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they can assist students and graduates establish professional relationships in the Fortuna Foothills healthcare community and help with obtaining employment once licensed.

What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of person that prefers to sit way in the back of class or get lost in the crowd, you will likely want a small class size. Smaller classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapist schools you are reviewing what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you an opportunity to talk with some of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the physical therapist program as well.

Where is the Program Located? For many students, the physical therapy school they choose will need to be within driving distance of their Fortuna Foothills AZ home. Students who have decided to attend online classes naturally will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of importance. Something to consider is that if you decide to enroll in a college that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges typically charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges typically charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Help Provided? The majority of DPT colleges provide some type of financial support to their prospective students. Find out if the schools you are considering have a financial assistance office and find out what kind of help is obtainable. At a minimum they should help in getting a student loan or any scholarships you may qualify for. A number of physical therapist schools provide scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before eliminating a school because the tuition is beyond your budget, learn what financial aid might be available.

Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to confirm that the physical therapy school you ultimately select can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you decide to continue working while attending school. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Fortuna Foothills AZ area, make sure that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would need to enroll in. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss because of work, illness or family obligations.

Find Out More About Fortuna Foothills Physical Therapist Courses

Enroll in the Best Fortuna Foothills Physical Therapist School

Picking the right physical therapy college is an important first decision you must make to begin a rewarding career in the health care field. As we have discussed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and school you choose should both have excellent reputations and accreditation. However there are additional important questions that you should ask regarding your college of choice also. As you begin your search for a physical therapist program bear in mind that a number of factors will lead you toward your ultimate decision. You may decide to visit each of the campuses to see their facilities and speak to active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this program help me accomplish my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By following our list of supplemental questions, you will be able to narrow down the field so you can make the right selection. And with the proper training and education, you can achieve your dream to become a licensed physical therapist in Fortuna Foothills Arizona.


 

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