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How to Enroll In the Right Physical Therapist Course Near Gilbert Arizona

Gilbert Arizona physical therapist working with woman using balance ballEarning a physical therapist degree near Gilbert AZ is an essential first step to launching a rewarding career in the health care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been incapacitated as a result of illness or injury regain mobility and function. But before they can practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they must obtain the necessary training and education. A PT must additionally be licensed in every state, a large number requiring that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So prior to selecting a physical therapy school, it's important to evaluate those you are thinking about to make sure they will supply a superior education and comply with your state's licensing requirements. What you should not do is choose a college simply because it happens to be the nearest to your residence or it has the lowest tuition. There are other important qualifications that must be evaluated along with location and cost. 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 Does a Physical Therapist Do?

Gilbert Arizona DPT assisting female patient to walk

Physical therapists work in diverse locations, including Gilbert AZ private practices, hospitals, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and sports facilities. What the facilities all have in common is that they are equipped for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As previously stated, physical therapists help patients that are struggling with a lack of mobility and frequently pain due to illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they develop a program of treatment to address the mobility problems and reduce or eliminate any pain. They also try to prevent any progression of the disability. Although the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Car or motor cycle accidents
  • Head injuries
  • Heart attacks
  • Sports injuries
  • Fire injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists work in close partnerships with other Gilbert AZ health professionals, including doctors, chiropractors, registered nurses and dentists. They may also supervise one or more physical therapy assistants who work for them assisting with diagnosing and treating their patients. Something to take note of for anyone considering getting into the physical therapy profession, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists often lift patients and heavy equipment, and stand, crouch and kneel for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapist Degrees

Gilbert Arizona DPT working with patient in pool

There are 3 physical therapist degree options offered for students to pursue at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these alternatives, the one degree that is offered 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 prepping them to advance to the doctoral level. Following are short descriptions of degrees that are offered to prospective students in the Gilbert AZ area:

  • Associate Degrees prepare students to become physical therapy assistants, or may be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Applicants must have obtained a high school diploma or GED to qualify for enrollment. The degrees are most often made available by community or junior colleges, and take about 2 years to complete. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is typically part of the course of study.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapy training to prep students to progress to the doctoral level. Although they are not required to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an essential first step to practicing as a PT. Similar to most bachelor's degrees, they normally require 4 years to finish and usually include an internship program of at least 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are mandated in order to become a licensed practicing physical therapist. The degree program must also be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). In addition to the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes three years to finish, making the overall investment of time seven years in most cases. Clinical or practical training is an essential component along with the extensive lab and classroom instruction. Therefor the fulfillment of an internship is mandated, not only for graduation but in several 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. Some practicing physical therapists having a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the current licensing mandate for a doctorate was instituted.

Physical Therapist Schools Online

Gilbert Arizona woman taking physical therapist training onlineWhile not as common as the on-campus options, there are some accredited online physical therapist degrees available, even more at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on nature of the training, internships and clinical lab work are integrated with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live close to the school campus or nearby a sponsored internship. However, the online segment of the course of study can be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Gilbert AZ home. Online schools are not only partially more accessible, but in a number of cases more economical. Tuition may be significantly less than comparable on-campus options, and expenses for commuting are minimized. And many of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These advantages can make the online option the ideal choice for those students that are dedicated enough to attend classes at home.

Topics to Ask Physical Therapy Programs

At this point you most likely have made a decision concerning some of your initial queries, including the type of physical therapy degree you would like to attain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to spend for your education. But considering there are so many PT schools within the Gilbert AZ area and across Arizona, you'll have to explore additional qualifications also so as to further reduce your list of college options. Furthermore, you need to make certain that you pick the school that is ideal for you. That's why we have compiled a list of critical questions that you need to ask the physical therapy schools you are thinking about. Ask all of the potential colleges these questions before making an ultimate decision.

Is the Physical Therapy Program Accredited?  Find out if the schools you are considering have received accreditation from a national or a regional organization. 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 program, it may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's important that both the physical therapy school and program you choose are accredited, not just the school. Also, make sure that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. In addition to ensuring that you receive an excellent education, accreditation might be required for state licensing as well as for getting student loans or financial aid.

What is the School's Ranking? In addition to accreditation, it's essential that the college and program you pick have excellent reputations within the physical therapist community. There are a number of ways you can research a PT school's reputation, starting with requesting references from employers that they refer their students to. You may also check online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. Contact a few Gilbert AZ physical therapist centers or other health care facilities that you might be interested in working for and ask if they can provide any recommendations about your college selections. It may 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 Program's Job Placement Percentage? There are a two significant statistics that you should know about all of the physical therapist programs you are looking at. First is their graduation rate. A lower rate may suggest that students left because of displeasure with the program, the teachers, or both. Once the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being placed in jobs with the help of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Gilbert AZ area? If a program has a high job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the health care field is good or even exceptional. It also verifies that the program has a large network of contacts to assist students get internships or jobs after graduation.

Does the College Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's important that the school you select furnishes both exceptional training and a course of study that supports the licensing criteria 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) in addition to a degree from an accredited physical therapist college. While licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PT and PTA graduates, some states require a minimum number of clinical hours be completed as well as passing scores on additional exams.

Are Internships Provided? Inquire if the physical therapist programs you are reviewing have associations with Gilbert AZ clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only a great manner to obtain practical experience in a clinical environment, they are also a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they may assist students and graduates establish professional connections in the Gilbert health care community and assist with obtaining employment after licensing.

What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of person that prefers to sit far in the rear of class or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a smaller class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapist schools you are looking at what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you a chance to converse with a few of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the physical therapy program as well.

Where is the Program Located? For a number of students, the physical therapy college they select will have to be within driving distance of their Gilbert AZ residence. Students who have opted to attend classes online obviously will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. One thing to bear 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 need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges typically charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges generally charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Aid Provided? Most DPT colleges offer some form of financial support to their potential students. Ask if the schools you are considering have a financial assistance department and find out what kind of aid is available. At a minimum they should help in acquiring a student loan or any scholarships you may be eligible for. Some physical therapy colleges provide scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before you eliminate a program because the tuition is too expensive, learn what financial assistance might be available.

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

Find Out More About Gilbert Physical Therapy Majors

Enroll in the Right Gilbert Physical Therapist School

Choosing the best physical therapy school is an important first decision you must make to begin a rewarding career in the healthcare 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 be accredited. But there are other relevant questions that you need to ask regarding your college of choice as well. As you start your search for a physical therapist college bear in mind that numerous variables will guide you toward your final decision. You might want to go to different colleges to see their facilities and talk with current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this program help me reach my goal of becoming a practicing licensed 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 right choice. And with the proper education and training, you can fulfill your dream of becoming a licensed physical therapist in Gilbert Arizona.


 

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