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How to Pick the Right Physical Therapist Degree Program Near Fountain Hills Arizona

Fountain Hills Arizona physical therapist working with female patient using balance ballReceiving a physical therapist degree near Fountain Hills AZ is an essential first step to starting a fulfilling career in the health care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been incapacitated due to illness or injury gain back mobility and function. But before they can practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they need to receive the proper training and education. A PT must also become licensed in every state, many mandating that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So prior to selecting a physical therapy school, it's important to evaluate the ones you are thinking about to make sure they will deliver a quality education and meet your state's licensing criteria. What you should not do is enroll in a school simply because it happens to be the nearest to your residence or it has cheapest tuition. There are other significant qualifications that need to be considered in addition to 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 what the educational options are.

What is a Physical Therapist's Job Description?

Fountain Hills Arizona DPT assisting female patient to walk

Physical therapists practice in diverse locations, such as Fountain Hills AZ private practices, hospitals, 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 earlier mentioned, physical therapists help people that are struggling with 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 strive to stop any advancement of the disability. Though the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Osteoporosis and Arthritis
  • Car or motor cycle accidents
  • Head injuries
  • Heart attacks
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Fire injuries
  • Hip Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Cerebral Palsy

Licensed physical therapists practice in close association with other Fountain Hills AZ health professionals, including doctors, chiropractors, dentists and nurses. They may also supervise one or more physical therapy assistants who work under them assisting with the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. One thing to keep in mind for anyone thinking about entering the physical therapy profession, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists often lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and stand, crouch and kneel for extended periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degree Options

Fountain Hills Arizona DPT working with patient in pool

There are 3 physical therapist degrees available for individuals to enroll in at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these options, the one degree that is offered that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees focus on either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or preparing them to advance to the doctoral level. Following are brief summaries of degrees that are offered to prospective students in the Fountain Hills AZ area:

  • Associate Degrees prepare students to practice as physical therapy assistants, or may be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Applicants must have a high school diploma or GED to qualify for enrollment. The degrees are usually offered by community or junior colleges, and take about 2 years to complete. An internship or other form of clinical training is normally a portion of the program.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapist training to prepare students to advance to the doctoral level. Although they are not required to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an integral first step to becoming a PT. As with the majority of bachelor's degrees, they generally take four years to complete and usually include an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are required if you want to become a practicing licensed 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 total commitment 7 years in most cases. Practical or clinical training is an important element in addition to the considerable lab and classroom instruction. Consequently the completion of an internship is required, not just for graduation but in some 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 available in the USA. A number of practicing physical therapists having a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the current licensing mandate for a doctorate was instituted.

Physical Therapist Colleges Online

Fountain Hills Arizona female student taking physical therapy training onlineWhile not as common as the on campus alternatives, there are a number of accredited online physical therapist degrees offered, more so at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on nature of the training, internships and clinical lab work are combined with the online classes. This requires that the student live close to the school campus or in proximity of an available internship. However, the online portion of the course of study may be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Fountain Hills AZ residence. Online schools are not only partially more accessible, but in a number of instances more affordable. Tuition might be somewhat lower than comparable on campus alternatives, and expenses for commuting are reduced. And many of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These advantages can make the online alternative the best choice for those students that are disciplined enough to learn at home.

Questions to Ask Physical Therapy Schools

By now you undoubtedly have come to decision concerning a few of your preliminary questions, such as the type of physical therapy degree you want to attain, where you want to attend classes, and how much you can afford to spend for 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 additional qualifications as well in order to further narrow your list of college choices. Also, you want to make sure that you choose the school that is best for you. That's why we have put together a list of critical questions that you need to ask the physical therapy schools you are considering. Ask all of the potential schools these questions before making a final decision.

Is the Physical Therapy College Accredited?  Ask if the schools you are looking at have received accreditation from a regional or a national agency. As earlier mentioned, if you are pursuing a doctorate the program must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). If you enroll in an online college, it can also earn 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 simply the school. Additionally, make sure that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Along with ensuring that you obtain an excellent education, accreditation may be mandated for state licensing and even for getting student loans or financial assistance.

What is the College's Reputation? In addition to accreditation, it's essential that the college and program you select have exceptional reputations within the physical therapy profession. There are multiple ways you can look into a PT school's reputation, beginning with asking for references from employers that they place their graduates with. You may also check online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Get in touch with several Fountain Hills AZ physical therapy centers or other healthcare facilities that you might be interested in working for and ask if they can offer any recommendations about your school options. 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 Program's Job Placement Rate? There are a couple of important statistics that you need to know about all of the physical therapy colleges you are reviewing. First is their graduation rate. A low rate might mean that students left due to dissatisfaction with the program, the instructors, or both. Once the students have graduated, how many of them are being placed in jobs with the assistance of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Fountain Hills AZ area? If a college has a higher job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the medical care field is good or perhaps outstanding. It also verifies that the school has a broad network of contacts to help students gain internships or employment upon graduation.

Does the School Support Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the college you choose provides both exceptional training and a curriculum that supports the licensing criteria for Arizona or the state where you will be working. In every state a passing score is required on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) in addition to a degree from an accredited physical therapist school. While licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PT and PTA graduates, some states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be completed as well as passing scores on supplemental tests.

Are Internships Provided? Ask if the physical therapy colleges you are assessing have partnerships with Fountain Hills AZ clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only a terrific means to get hands on experience in a clinical setting, they are additionally a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they can assist graduates and students form professional relationships in the Fountain Hills health care community and help with obtaining employment once licensed.

How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of student that prefers to sit far in the back of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a small class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapy schools you are looking at what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you a chance to converse with a few of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapy program as well.

Where is the Program Located? For a number of students, the physical therapist college they choose will have to be within driving distance of their Fountain Hills AZ home. Those who have decided to attend classes online naturally will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. One thing to keep in mind is that if you choose 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 commonly charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges typically charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.

Is Financial Aid Provided? The majority of DPT colleges offer some type of financial assistance to their potential students. Find out if the colleges you are reviewing have a financial assistance office and find out what type of aid is obtainable. At a minimum they should help in getting a student loan or any scholarships you might be eligible for. Some physical therapist schools provide scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before eliminating a college because the tuition is too expensive, learn what financial aid may be available.

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

Learn More About Fountain Hills Physical Therapist Colleges

Choose the Best Fountain Hills Physical Therapy School

Deciding on the ideal physical therapy school is an important first decision you have to make to start a fulfilling career in the healthcare profession. As we have discussed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and college you decide on should both have outstanding reputations and accreditation. However there are additional critical questions that you need to ask concerning your college of choice as well. As you begin your search for a physical therapy school bear in mind that a number of variables will guide you to your ultimate decision. You may decide to go to different campuses to view their facilities and speak with current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this school help me achieve my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By adhering to our list of additional questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the field 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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