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How to Choose the Right Physical Therapist Course Near Fountain Hills Arizona

Fountain Hills Arizona physical therapist working with female patient holding exercise ballObtaining a physical therapist degree near Fountain Hills AZ is a critical first step to starting a rewarding career in the health care field. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been incapacitated as a result of injury or illness regain function and mobility. But before they may legally practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they must get the necessary education and training. A PT must additionally be licensed in all states, many requiring that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So prior to selecting a physical therapy school, it's essential to research the ones you are considering to make certain they will furnish a superior education and satisfy your state's licensing standards. What you do not want to do is choose a school simply because it happens to be the nearest to your home or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other significant qualifications that must be considered in addition to location and cost. But before we cover what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, we'll address what a physical therapist does and the options for education.

What Do Physical Therapists Do?

Fountain Hills Arizona physical therapist assisting woman 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 previously 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 course of treatment to deal with the mobility issues and lessen or eradicate any pain. They also try to stop any advancement of the disability. While the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are numerous, they include:

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

Licensed physical therapists work in close affiliation with other Fountain Hills AZ medical professionals, including chiropractors, physicians, dentists and nurses. They may also oversee one or more physical therapy assistants who work under them assisting with diagnosing and treating their patients. Something to bear in mind for anyone thinking about getting into the physical therapy field, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists often lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and stand, crouch and kneel for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapist Degrees

Fountain Hills Arizona physical therapist working with man in pool

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

  • Associate Degrees prepare students to become physical therapy assistants, or can be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Candidates must have a high school diploma or equivalent to qualify for enrollment. The degrees are usually offered by junior or community colleges, and require two years for completion. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is usually a portion of the course of study.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapist education to prepare students to advance to the doctoral level. Although they are not a requirement to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an integral initial step to practicing as 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 mandated if you want 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 the majority of cases. Clinical or practical training is an essential component in addition to the substantial lab and classroom instruction. Consequently the fulfillment of an internship is mandated, not just for graduation but in some 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 available in the USA. A number of practicing physical therapists having a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the current licensing mandate for a doctorate was instituted.

Physical Therapist Online Degrees

Fountain Hills Arizona female student taking physical therapist classes onlineAlthough not as common as the more traditional alternatives, there are some accredited online physical therapy degrees available, more so at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on structure of the training, clinical lab work and internships are incorporated with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live near the school campus or nearby an available internship. However, 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 to some extent more accessible, but in many cases more affordable. Tuition can be somewhat less than comparable on campus options, and expenses for commuting are minimized. And many of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These advantages can make the online alternative the best choice for those students that are motivated enough to learn at home.

Questions to Ask Physical Therapy Schools

By now you undoubtedly have come to decision concerning a few of your initial queries, including the type of physical therapy degree you intend to attain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much you can afford to invest in your education. But considering there are numerous PT schools within the Fountain Hills AZ area and throughout Arizona, you'll have to explore additional qualifications also in order to further narrow your list of college choices. Moreover, you need to be sure that you select the school that is right for you. That's the reason we have collected a list of critical questions that you must ask the physical therapist programs you are thinking about. Ask each of the competing colleges these questions before making an ultimate selection.

Is the Physical Therapy Program Accredited?  Ask if the schools you are considering 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 enroll in an online school, it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's essential that both the physical therapist program and school you select are accredited, not just the school. Additionally, make sure that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. In addition to guaranteeing that you obtain an excellent education, accreditation may be required for state licensing as well as 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 pick have exceptional reputations within the physical therapist community. There are multiple ways you can look into a PT school's reputation, starting with asking for references from employers that they place their graduates with. You can also search for online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. Call some Fountain Hills AZ physical therapist clinics or other healthcare facilities that you may have an interest in working for and ask if they can provide any advice about your college options. It might also be a good idea to contact the Arizona Attorney General and school licensing authority to find out if any complaints have been submitted against the schools.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? There are a two relevant statistics that you need to know about all of the physical therapist programs you are reviewing. First is their graduation rate. A lower rate may suggest that students left due to dissatisfaction with the program, the teachers, 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 community is good or perhaps exceptional. It also confirms that the program has a broad network of contacts to help students gain internships or employment after graduation.

Does the Program 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 working. In each state a passing score is needed on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) as well as a degree from an accredited physical therapist school. Although licensing requirements differ state by state for PT and PTA graduates, some states require a minimum number of clinical hours be completed and passing scores on additional exams.

Are Internships Provided? Find out if the physical therapy colleges you are interested in have partnerships with Fountain Hills AZ hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific manner to obtain practical training in a clinical environment, they are also a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they can help graduates and students establish professional relationships in the Fountain Hills health care community and help with obtaining employment after licensing.

What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the type of person that likes to sit far in the back of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will likely prefer a smaller class size. Smaller classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapy schools you are looking at what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you an opportunity to speak with several of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapist program as well.

Where is the College Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapist school they select will need to be within driving distance of their Fountain Hills AZ home. Individuals who have chosen to attend online classes obviously will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. Something to consider is that if you decide to enroll in a college that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you may need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges usually charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges often charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Help Provided? Most DPT colleges offer some type of financial aid to their prospective students. Inquire if the colleges you are considering have a financial aid department and find out what kind of help is obtainable. They at least should help in acquiring a student loan or any grants you might qualify for. A number of physical therapy colleges provide scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before you eliminate a school because the tuition is beyond your budget, find out what financial assistance might be available.

Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must confirm that the physical therapist program you ultimately select can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you opt to continue working while you attend school. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Fountain Hills AZ area, confirm that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, find out if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would need to carry. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss as a result of illness, work or family obligations.

Learn More About Fountain Hills Online Physical Therapist Majors

Choose the Right Fountain Hills Physical Therapy School

Selecting the best physical therapist school is an important initial decision you need to make to start a rewarding career in the health care field. As we have discussed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and college you enroll in should both have outstanding reputations and accreditation. But there are other relevant questions that you need to ask pertaining to your school of choice as well. As you commence your search for a physical therapist program bear in mind that numerous factors will guide you to your ultimate decision. You might decide to visit different campuses to see their facilities and talk with 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 additional questions, you will be able to narrow down the options so you can make the best choice. And with the necessary training and education, you can accomplish your dream to become a licensed physical therapist in Fountain Hills Arizona.


 

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