How to Choose the Right Physical Therapist Course Near Gilbert Arizona
Getting a physical therapy degree near Gilbert AZ is an essential first step to beginning a rewarding career in the healthcare industry. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been incapacitated due to 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 education and training. A PT must additionally become licensed in every state, many mandating that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So prior to enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's essential to research the ones you are thinking about to make sure they will deliver a superior education and meet your state's licensing standards. What you do not want to do is select a college just because it happens to be the closest to your home or it has cheapest tuition. There are other significant qualifications that must be evaluated besides location and cost. But before we talk about what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, we'll address what a physical therapist does and what the educational options are.
What is a Physical Therapist?
Physical therapists work in varying locations, including Gilbert 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 earlier touched on, physical therapists help individuals that are experiencing a lack of mobility and often pain caused by illness or injury. After patient diagnosis, they develop a program of treatment to resolve the mobility problems and lessen or eliminate any pain. They also strive to prevent any progression of the disability. Though the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are numerous, they include:
- Osteoporosis and Arthritis
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Head injuries
- Cardiac arrest
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Burn injuries
- Knee Replacement
- Multiple Sclerosis
Licensed physical therapists work in close affiliation with other Gilbert AZ medical professionals, including doctors, chiropractors, registered nurses and dentists. They can also supervise several physical therapy assistants who work under them assisting with the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. One thing to bear in mind for anyone thinking about going into the physical therapy profession, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists routinely lift patients and heavy equipment, and stand, crouch and kneel for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapist Degrees Available
There are three physical therapy degrees offered for individuals to enroll in at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these choices, the only degree that is offered that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees concentrate on either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or readying them to advance to the doctoral level. Below are short summaries of degrees that are available to prospective students in the Gilbert AZ area:
- Associate Degrees educate students to be physical therapy assistants, or can be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Candidates must have earned a high school diploma or GED to qualify for enrollment. The degrees are most often provided by community colleges, and take about 2 years for completion. An internship or other form of clinical training is normally a component of the course of study.
- Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapist education to prepare candidates to move up to the doctoral level. While they are not required to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an integral preliminary step to becoming a PT. As with the majority of bachelor's degrees, they normally require 4 years to finish and usually incorporate an internship program of at least 500 hours.
- Doctorate Degrees are a requirement in order to become a practicing licensed 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 three years to finish, making the total commitment 7 years in the majority of cases. Clinical training is an intregal component in addition to the substantial lab and classroom instruction. Therefor the fulfillment of an internship is mandated, not solely 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 offered in the United States. Some licensed physical therapists having a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the existing licensing mandate for a doctorate was implemented.
Physical Therapy Schools Online
While not as common as the on-campus options, there are a number of accredited online physical therapist degrees available, even more at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on structure of the training, clinical lab work and internships are combined with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live close to the college campus or nearby a sponsored internship. Fortunately, the online portion of the course of study may be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Gilbert AZ residence. Online schools are not only to some extent more accessible, but in many instances more economical. Tuition can be significantly lower than comparable on campus alternatives, and expenses for commuting are reduced. And many of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing 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 Colleges
At this point you undoubtedly have made a decision concerning several of your preliminary queries, such as the type of physical therapist degree you want to obtain, where you want to attend classes, and how much you can afford to invest in your education. But considering there are so many PT colleges within the Gilbert AZ area and throughout Arizona, you'll need to look into additional qualifications also in order to further narrow your list of school choices. Also, you need to be sure that you enroll in the school that is ideal for you. That's the reason we have compiled a list of essential questions that you must ask the physical therapy colleges you are considering. Ask all of the potential colleges these questions prior to making a final selection.
Is the Physical Therapy College Accredited? Ask if the programs you are considering have received accreditation from a regional or a national organization. As previously 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 select an online college, it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's essential that both the physical therapy program and school you choose are accredited, not just the school. Additionally, verify that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. In addition to guaranteeing that you receive a quality education, accreditation might be required for state licensing and even for getting student loans or financial assistance.
What is the Program's Ranking? Along with accreditation, it's important that the college and program you pick have outstanding reputations within the physical therapist profession. There are multiple ways you can investigate a PT college'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 also. Contact a few Gilbert AZ physical therapist clinics or other health care facilities that you might be interested in working for and ask if they can offer any advice about your school options. It might also be a good idea to contact the Arizona Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been submitted against the colleges.
What is the Program's Job Placement Percentage? There are a couple of important statistics that you need to know about all of the physical therapy schools you are reviewing. First is their graduation rate. A lower rate might suggest that students dropped out because of dissatisfaction with the program, the instructors, or both. Once the students have graduated, how many of them are being placed in jobs with the support of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Gilbert AZ area? If a program has a high job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the healthcare field is good or even outstanding. It also confirms that the school has a broad network of contacts to help students get internships or employment upon graduation.
Does the Program Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the program you select provides both exceptional training and a curriculum that satisfies the licensing criteria for Arizona or the state where you will be working. In each state a passing score is required on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapist school. While 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? Inquire if the physical therapy colleges you are evaluating have associations with Gilbert AZ clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a great way to receive hands on training in a clinical environment, they are additionally a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they can help students and graduates develop professional connections in the Gilbert healthcare community and help with job placement once licensed.
What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the kind of person that prefers to sit far in the back of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a small class size. Smaller classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapist schools you are reviewing what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you a chance to speak with some of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapy program also.
Where is the College Located? For a number of students, the physical therapy college they select will need to be within travelling distance of their Gilbert AZ residence. Those who have decided to attend classes online obviously will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. Something to keep in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a school that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges typically charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges usually charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? The majority of DPT schools provide some type of financial support to their potential students. Ask if the schools you are looking at have a financial assistance department and see what kind of help is obtainable. They at least should help in acquiring a student loan or any scholarships you might qualify for. A number of physical therapist colleges offer scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before you eliminate a college because the tuition is too expensive, find out what financial assistance may be available.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must confirm that the physical therapist college you finally pick can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly essential if you choose to continue working while you attend school. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Gilbert AZ area, make certain 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 have to enroll in. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss as a result of work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Gilbert Physical Therapist School
Picking the ideal physical therapy program is an important initial decision you have to make to begin a rewarding career in the health care profession. As we have discussed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and college you choose should both have exceptional reputations and accreditation. But there are additional important questions that you need to ask concerning your college of choice as well. As you start your search for a physical therapist program keep in mind that many variables will lead you toward your final decision. You might want to visit each of the schools to see their facilities and talk to current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this college help me reach my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By following our list of supplemental questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the field so you can make the ideal choice. And with the proper education and training, you can achieve your dream of becoming a licensed physical therapist in Gilbert Arizona.