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How to Choose the Right Physical Therapist Program Near Fortuna Foothills Arizona

Fortuna Foothills Arizona physical therapist working with female patient holding exercise ballEarning a physical therapy degree near Fortuna Foothills AZ is an important first step to launching a rewarding career in the health care field. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been incapacitated due to illness or injury regain mobility and function. But before they can practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they must get the proper training and education. A PT must additionally be licensed in all states, many requiring that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So prior to choosing a physical therapy school, it's essential to evaluate those you are considering to make sure they will deliver a quality education and meet your state's licensing standards. What you do not want to do is select 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 need to be evaluated along with location and cost. But before we discuss what those qualifications are and the questions you should be asking, we'll cover what a physical therapist does and the options for education.

What Do Physical Therapists Do?

Fortuna Foothills Arizona physical therapist assisting female patient to walk

Physical therapists work in varying settings, such as Fortuna Foothills AZ private practices, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and health clubs. What the facilities all have in common is that they are equipped for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As earlier touched on, physical therapists help patients that are suffering from a lack of mobility and in many cases pain due to injury or illness. After diagnosing a patient, they develop a program of treatment to resolve the mobility problems and reduce or eradicate any pain. They also endeavor to stop any advancement of the disability. Though the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are abundant, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Strokes
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Fire injuries
  • Hip Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists practice in close affiliation with other Fortuna Foothills AZ medical specialists, including chiropractors, physicians, dentists and nurses. They may also supervise several physical therapy assistants who work for them in diagnosing and treating their patients. One thing to bear in mind for anyone considering going into the physical therapy profession, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift patients and heavy equipment, and kneel, crouch and stand for long periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapist Degree Options

Fortuna Foothills Arizona DPT working with patient in pool

There are 3 physical therapy degree options offered for students to pursue at the undergraduate and graduate 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 concentrate on either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or preparing them to progress to the doctoral level. Following are brief 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 the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Candidates must have obtained a high school diploma or equivalent to qualify for enrollment. The programs are most often made available by junior or community colleges, and require 2 years for completion. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is usually a portion of the curriculum.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapist training to prepare students to move up to the doctoral level. Although they are not required to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an important preliminary step to becoming a PT. Similar to most bachelor's degrees, they typically require four years to complete and usually include an internship program of at least 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are required in order to become a licensed practicing physical therapist. The degree program also must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). After earning the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes 3 years to complete, making the overall commitment 7 years in the majority of cases. Practical or clinical training is an essential component in addition to the extensive lab and classroom instruction. Consequently the fulfillment of an internship is mandated, not just for graduation but in a number of states for licensing also.

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 offered in the United States. Some practicing physical therapists holding a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the current licensing mandate for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapist Programs Online

Fortuna Foothills Arizona woman taking physical therapy classes onlineAlthough not as common as the on campus alternatives, there are a number of accredited online physical therapist programs available, 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 requires that the student live near the school campus or in proximity of a sponsored internship. However, the online part of the program can 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 economical. Tuition might be significantly lower 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 can make the online alternative the best choice for those students that are motivated enough to attend classes at home.

What to Ask Physical Therapist Schools

At this point you undoubtedly have come to decision regarding a few of your initial queries, including the type of physical therapy degree you would like to attain, where you want to attend classes, and how much you can afford to spend for your education. But considering there are so many PT colleges within the Fortuna Foothills AZ area and throughout Arizona, you'll need to research other qualifications also so as to further reduce your list of college options. Furthermore, you want to be sure that you pick the program that is best for you. That's the reason we have compiled a list of important questions that you must ask the physical therapy colleges you are considering. Ask all of the potential colleges these questions prior to making an ultimate selection.

Is the Physical Therapy School Accredited?  Ask if the schools you are reviewing have received accreditation from a national or a regional organization. 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 program, it can also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's important 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. Along with guaranteeing that you receive a quality education, accreditation may be required for state licensing as well as for getting student loans or financial assistance.

What is the College's Standing? Along with accreditation, it's essential that the college and program you pick have exceptional reputations within the physical therapy profession. There are several ways you can investigate a PT college's reputation, starting with asking for references from employers that they place their graduates with. You may also check online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. Contact a few Fortuna Foothills AZ physical therapist centers or other health care facilities that you may be interested in working for and ask if they can give you any recommendations about your college selections. It may also be a good idea to contact the Arizona Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been submitted against the schools.

What is the School's Job Placement Percentage? There are a two significant statistics that you should know about all of the physical therapy colleges you are considering. First is their graduation rate. A low rate may indicate that students dropped out because of dissatisfaction with the program, the instructors, 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 college has a high job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the medical care community is good or perhaps exceptional. It also verifies that the program has a wide network of contacts to help students get internships or jobs after graduation.

Does the School Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the college you enroll in provides both superior training and a course of study that supports the licensing requirements for Arizona or the state where you will be practicing. In every state a passing score is needed on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) in addition to a degree from an accredited physical therapist program. While licensing requirements vary state by state for PT and PTA graduates, some states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be performed as well as passing scores on additional tests.

Are Internships Provided? Find out if the physical therapist colleges you are evaluating have partnerships with Fortuna Foothills AZ clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a great manner to obtain practical experience in a clinical environment, they are additionally a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they can assist graduates and students develop professional relationships in the Fortuna Foothills medical community and help with obtaining employment after licensing.

How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of student that likes to sit way in the back of class or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a small class size. Small classes permit more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapy schools you are looking at what the average teacher to student 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 converse with a few of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapist program also.

Where is the College Located? For many students, the physical therapy school they choose will need to be within travelling distance of their Fortuna Foothills AZ residence. Those who have decided to attend online classes naturally will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. Something to keep in mind 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 often charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges typically charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Aid Provided? The majority of DPT colleges supply some type of financial aid to their prospective students. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have a financial aid office and see what kind of aid is obtainable. They at least should help in obtaining a student loan or any scholarships you may qualify for. Some physical therapy colleges offer scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before you eliminate a program because the tuition is too expensive, learn what financial aid might be available.

Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must verify that the physical therapy program you finally pick can provide the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you opt to continue working while attending classes. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Fortuna Foothills AZ area, confirm 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, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss due to work, illness or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Fortuna Foothills Physical Therapy Degrees

Choose the Best Fortuna Foothills Physical Therapist School

Choosing the right physical therapist school is a necessary initial decision you must make to begin a fulfilling career in the medical profession. As we have covered in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and college you pick should both have excellent reputations and accreditation. But there are additional important questions that you should ask regarding your college of choice also. As you commence your search for a physical therapy program keep in mind that many variables will guide you toward your ultimate decision. You may want to visit different schools to see their facilities and talk to current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this program help me achieve my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By following our list of supplemental questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the options so you can make the right selection. And with the proper training and education, you can accomplish your dream of becoming a practicing physical therapist in Fortuna Foothills Arizona.


 

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