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How to Choose the Right Physical Therapy Training Program Near Fortuna Foothills Arizona

Fortuna Foothills Arizona physical therapist working with female patient holding exercise ballGetting a physical therapy degree near Fortuna Foothills AZ is a critical first step to starting a fulfilling career in the medical care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been debilitated as a result of illness or injury gain back function and mobility. But before they can practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they need to receive the appropriate training and education. A PT must also become licensed in every state, a large number mandating that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So before selecting a physical therapy school, it's necessary to research those you are considering to ensure they will furnish a superior education and satisfy your state's licensing requirements. What you do not want to do is select a college just because it happens to be the nearest to your home or it has the lowest tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that need to be considered besides 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 DPT assisting female patient to walk

Physical therapists work in a variety of locations, such as Fortuna Foothills AZ hospitals, health clinics, 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 people that are struggling with a lack of mobility and frequently pain caused by injury or illness. After patient diagnosis, they create a program of treatment to deal with the mobility issues and reduce or eradicate any pain. They also strive to stop any advancement of the disability. Though the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Strokes
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Sports injuries
  • Burn injuries
  • Hip Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Cerebral Palsy

Licensed physical therapists practice in close affiliation with other Fortuna Foothills AZ medical professionals, including chiropractors, physicians, registered nurses and dentists. They can also manage several physical therapy assistants who work under them in diagnosing and treating their patients. One thing to bear in mind for anyone thinking about getting into the physical therapy field, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists often lift patients and heavy equipment, and stand, crouch and kneel for long periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapist Degrees Available

Fortuna Foothills Arizona DPT working with man in pool

There are 3 physical therapist degrees offered for individuals to enroll in at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these options, the single degree that is available that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees target either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or preparing them to progress to the doctoral level. Below are brief explanations of degrees that are offered to prospective students in the Fortuna Foothills AZ area:

  • Associate Degrees educate students to be physical therapy assistants, or may be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Applicants must have obtained a high school diploma or equivalent to be accepted for enrollment. The programs are usually offered by community colleges, and take about 2 years to complete. An internship or other form of clinical training is usually a portion of the program.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapy training to prep students to move up to the doctoral level. Although they are not required to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an integral first step to becoming a PT. As with the majority of bachelor's degrees, they normally take 4 years to complete and often incorporate an internship program of at least 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are a requirement 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). In addition to the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes 3 years to complete, making the overall commitment 7 years in most cases. Clinical training is an essential component along with the substantial classroom and lab instruction. Therefor the fulfillment of an internship is required, not just 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 offered in the United States. A number of licensed physical therapists holding a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the present licensing mandate for a doctorate was instituted.

Physical Therapist Online Colleges

Fortuna Foothills Arizona woman taking physical therapy classes onlineAlthough not as prevalent as the on campus options, there are a number of accredited online physical therapist programs offered, even more at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on structure of the training, internships and clinical lab work are incorporated with the online classes. This requires that the student live close to the college campus or in proximity of a sponsored internship. Fortunately, the online segment of the course of study can be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Fortuna Foothills AZ residence. Online programs are not only to some extent more accessible, but in many cases more affordable. Tuition might be significantly lower than comparable on campus alternatives, and expenditures for commuting are reduced. And a number of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These advantages may make the online option the right choice for those students that are dedicated enough to attend classes at home.

What to Ask Physical Therapy Programs

By now you undoubtedly have come to decision regarding several of your preliminary queries, like the kind of physical therapy degree you intend to earn, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to invest in your education. But because there are numerous PT colleges within the Fortuna Foothills AZ area and across Arizona, you'll have to explore additional qualifications as well so as to further reduce your list of college choices. Also, you need to make sure that you enroll in the program that is best for you. That's the reason we have collected a list of important questions that you must ask the physical therapy colleges you are thinking about. Ask all of the competing schools these questions prior to making a final selection.

Is the Physical Therapy School Accredited?  Find out if the programs you are reviewing have received 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 college, it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's important that both the physical therapist program and school you choose are accredited, not simply the school. Also, verify that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Besides ensuring that you obtain a quality education, accreditation may be mandated for state licensing as well as for securing student loans or financial assistance.

What is the School's Reputation? Along with accreditation, it's important that the school and program you select have exceptional reputations within the physical therapist community. There are a number of ways you can investigate a PT college's reputation, starting with requesting references from employers that they refer their students to. You can also check online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Contact several Fortuna Foothills AZ physical therapist centers or other medical care facilities that you might have an interest in working for and ask if they can offer any recommendations about your school selections. It may also be a good idea 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 College's Job Placement Percentage? There are a two relevant statistics that you need to know about all of the physical therapy programs you are considering. One is their graduation rate. A lower rate may suggest that students left because of displeasure with the program, the teachers, or both. After the students have graduated, how many of them are being hired with the support of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Fortuna Foothills AZ area? If a college has a higher job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the health care community is good or perhaps exceptional. It also confirms that the program has a broad network of contacts to help students get internships or employment upon graduation.

Does the College Support Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the college you select provides both superior training and a curriculum that satisfies the licensing requirements for Arizona or the state where you will be working. In each 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 vary state by state for PTA and PT graduates, many states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be completed as well as passing scores on additional tests.

Are Internships Provided? Ask if the physical therapist colleges you are evaluating have partnerships with Fortuna Foothills AZ clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only a great way to receive hands on training in a clinical setting, they are also a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they may help students and graduates develop professional relationships in the Fortuna Foothills health care community and help with obtaining employment once licensed.

What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the kind of student that prefers to sit way in the rear of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will probably prefer a small class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapist colleges you are reviewing what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you an opportunity to converse with several of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapist program also.

Where is the School Located? For a number of students, the physical therapist college they select will have to be within driving distance of their Fortuna Foothills AZ residence. Individuals who have chosen to attend online classes 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 keep in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a program that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may have 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 Offered? Most DPT schools offer some form of financial aid to their potential students. Inquire if the colleges you are considering have a financial aid department and find out what type of aid is available. At a minimum they should help in acquiring a student loan or any scholarships you may qualify for. A number of physical therapy colleges offer scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before eliminating a program because the tuition is too expensive, ask what financial assistance may be available.

Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must verify that the physical therapist school you finally select can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you opt to continue working while attending school. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Fortuna Foothills AZ area, confirm that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would need to carry. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss due to work, illness or family obligations.

Find Out More About Fortuna Foothills Online Physical Therapy Degrees

Choose the Best Fortuna Foothills Physical Therapy School

Selecting the best physical therapy program is a necessary first decision you need to make to start a rewarding career in the health care field. As we have discussed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and college you choose should both have excellent reputations and accreditation. But there are additional relevant questions that you need to ask regarding your college of choice also. As you start your search for a physical therapist college bear in mind that a number of variables will lead you toward your final decision. You might decide to visit different colleges to see their facilities and talk with current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this college help me achieve my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By adhering to our list of supplemental questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the options so you can make the best selection. And with the necessary training and education, you can accomplish your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in Fortuna Foothills Arizona.


 

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