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How to Pick the Right Physical Therapist School Near Fountain Hills Arizona

Fountain Hills Arizona physical therapist working with woman holding exercise ballObtaining a physical therapist degree near Fountain Hills AZ is a critical first step to launching a fulfilling career in the medical care field. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been debilitated as a result of injury or illness regain function and mobility. But before they can practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they must get the appropriate training and education. A PT must additionally become licensed in all states, a large number requiring that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So before enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's essential to research those you are thinking about to make certain they will provide a quality education and satisfy your state's licensing requirements. What you should not do is enroll in a school simply because it happens to be the closest to your residence or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other significant qualifications that must 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 cover what a physical therapist does and the options for education.

What is a Physical Therapist?

Fountain Hills Arizona physical therapist assisting woman to walk

Physical therapists practice in diverse settings, including Fountain Hills AZ private practices, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and health clubs. What the facilities all share in common is that they have the equipment for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As previously stated, physical therapists help patients that are experiencing a lack of mobility and frequently pain caused by injury or illness. After diagnosing a patient, they create a program of treatment to deal with the mobility problems and reduce or eliminate any pain. They also try 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
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Fire injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists work in close affiliation with other Fountain Hills AZ health professionals, including doctors, chiropractors, dentists and nurses. They can also supervise several physical therapy assistants who work for them in diagnosing and treating their patients. Something to take note of for anyone considering getting into the physical therapy field, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists routinely lift patients and heavy equipment, and kneel, crouch and stand for extended periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degree Options

Fountain Hills Arizona DPT working with man in pool

There are three physical therapy degrees available for individuals to enroll in at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these options, the one degree that is offered that qualifies the graduate to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees concentrate on either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or prepping them to advance to the doctoral level. Below are brief descriptions of degrees that are available to prospective students in the Fountain Hills AZ area:

  • Associate Degrees educate 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 GED to qualify for enrollment. The degrees are most often provided by junior or community colleges, and require two years for completion. An internship or other form of clinical training is usually a portion of the course of study.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapist education to prepare students to advance to the doctoral level. While they are not required to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an important preliminary step to practicing as a PT. Similar to the majority of bachelor's degrees, they typically require 4 years to finish and commonly incorporate an internship program of a minimum of 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 finish, making the total commitment seven years in the majority of cases. Clinical or practical training is an important component in addition to the considerable classroom and lab instruction. Therefor the fulfillment of an internship is mandated, not only for graduation but in some 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 attainable in the USA. Some licensed physical therapists holding a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the present licensing mandate for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapy Degrees Online

Fountain Hills Arizona female student taking physical therapy courses onlineWhile not as prevalent as the more traditional options, there are a number of accredited online physical therapy degrees offered, even more at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on structure of the training, clinical lab work and internships 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 portion of the program can be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Fountain Hills AZ residence. Online schools are not only partially more accessible, but in many cases more economical. Tuition may be somewhat less than comparable on-campus alternatives, and expenditures for commuting are minimized. And a number of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These advantages may make the online alternative the ideal choice for those students that are motivated enough to learn at home.

Subjects to Ask Physical Therapy Programs

At this point you probably have come to decision regarding a few of your initial queries, including the type of physical therapy degree you want to earn, where you want to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to invest in your education. But because there are so many PT colleges within the Fountain Hills AZ area and across Arizona, you'll need to look into other qualifications also so as to further narrow your list of college options. Moreover, you want to be sure that you enroll in the college that is best for you. That's the reason we have compiled a list of important questions that you need to ask the physical therapist colleges you are considering. Ask each of the potential schools these questions prior to making a final selection.

Is the Physical Therapy College Accredited?  Find out if the colleges you are considering have received accreditation from a national or a regional organization. As earlier stated, if you are pursuing a doctorate the program must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). If you choose an online school, it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's essential that both the physical therapy program and school you enroll in are accredited, not simply the school. Additionally, verify that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Along with guaranteeing that you receive a quality education, accreditation may be mandated for state licensing and even for getting student loans or financial aid.

What is the College's Ranking? In addition to accreditation, it's imperative that the college and program you select have outstanding reputations within the physical therapist profession. There are multiple ways you can research a PT school's reputation, starting with requesting references from employers that they place their graduates with. You can also check online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Contact some Fountain Hills AZ physical therapist clinics or other medical care facilities that you may be interested in working for and ask if they can provide any insight about your college options. It may also be a good idea 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 School's Job Placement Percentage? There are a two useful statistics that you should find out about all of the physical therapy colleges you are looking at. One is their graduation rate. A lower rate may suggest that students left due to dissatisfaction with the program, the instructors, or both. After the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being placed in jobs with the assistance of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Fountain Hills AZ area? If a school has a high job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the health care field is good or even excellent. It also verifies that the school has a broad network of contacts to help students obtain internships or jobs after graduation.

Does the Program Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the program you select provides both excellent training and a course of study that satisfies 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) as well as a degree from an accredited physical therapist school. While licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PT and PTA graduates, many states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be completed as well as passing scores on supplemental tests.

Are Internship Programs Offered? Find out if the physical therapy schools you are interested in have associations with Fountain Hills AZ hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships a great way to get hands on training in a clinical setting, they are also a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they can assist graduates and students form professional relationships in the Fountain Hills healthcare community and assist with obtaining employment after licensing.

What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of student that likes to sit way in the back of class or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a small class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapist colleges you are looking at what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your final 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 School Located? For many students, the physical therapy college they select will need to be within driving distance of their Fountain Hills AZ home. Individuals who have opted 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 concern. One thing to consider is that if you choose to enroll in a program that is out of state or even 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 commonly charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Support Provided? The majority of DPT schools supply some type of financial aid to their prospective students. Ask if the schools you are considering have a financial assistance office and find out what type of aid is obtainable. At a minimum they should help in securing a student loan or any scholarships you might be eligible for. A number of physical therapy colleges offer scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before you eliminate a school because the tuition is beyond your budget, ask what financial assistance might be available.

Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must confirm that the physical therapist program you finally choose can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you choose to continue working while attending school. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Fountain Hills AZ area, make sure that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, verify if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would have to enroll in. Also, find out what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss as a result of illness, work or family obligations.

Find Out More About Fountain Hills Physical Therapist Programs

Enroll in the Right Fountain Hills Physical Therapist School

Picking the best physical therapist school is an important initial decision you must make to begin a fulfilling career in the health care field. As we have addressed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and college you choose should both have excellent reputations and accreditation. But there are additional important questions that you need to ask regarding your college of choice also. As you begin your search for a physical therapist school bear in mind that a number of variables will guide you toward your final decision. You might decide to go to different colleges to see their facilities and speak with active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this program help me achieve my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By following our list of additional questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the options so you can make the ideal selection. And with the necessary education and training, you can fulfill your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in Fountain Hills Arizona.


 

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