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How to Find the Right Physical Therapy Training Program Near Gilbert Arizona

Gilbert Arizona physical therapist working with female patient using balance ballEarning a physical therapist degree near Gilbert AZ is an important first step to launching a fulfilling career in the health care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been disabled due to illness or injury regain function and mobility. But before they may legally practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they need to obtain the proper training and education. A PT must also be licensed in every state, a large number requiring that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So before enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's essential to evaluate the ones you are considering to ensure they will furnish a quality education and satisfy your state's licensing standards. What you should not do is enroll in a college just because it happens to be the nearest to your home or it has the lowest tuition. There are other important qualifications that must be evaluated along with cost and location. But before we discuss what those qualifications are and the questions you should be asking, we'll address what a physical therapist does and what the educational options are.

What is a Physical Therapist's Job Description?

Gilbert Arizona physical therapist assisting woman to walk

Physical therapists work in diverse locations, such as Gilbert AZ hospitals, health clinics, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and health clubs. What the facilities all have in common is that they have the equipment for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As earlier stated, physical therapists help patients that are struggling with a lack of mobility and in many cases pain caused by injury or illness. After diagnosing a patient, they develop a program of treatment to resolve the mobility issues and lessen or eliminate any pain. They also try to prevent any advancement of the disability. Although the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Osteoporosis and Arthritis
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Strokes
  • Heart attacks
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Fire injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists work in close partnerships with other Gilbert AZ medical specialists, including chiropractors, physicians, registered nurses and dentists. They may also supervise one or more physical therapy assistants who work for them in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. One thing to bear in mind for anyone thinking about going into the physical therapy field, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and stand, crouch and kneel for long periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degrees Available

Gilbert Arizona physical therapist working with man in pool

There are three physical therapist degrees offered for individuals to enroll in at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these options, the one degree that is attainable 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 progress to the doctoral level. Below are short explanations of degree levels that are available to prospective students in the Gilbert 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 GED to qualify for enrollment. The programs are usually offered by community colleges, and take about 2 years for completion. An internship or other form of clinical training is normally part of the program.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapy education to prep candidates to advance to the doctoral level. Although they are not required to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an essential initial step to becoming a PT. Similar to the majority of bachelor's degrees, they normally take 4 years to finish and commonly incorporate an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are mandated if you want to become a practicing licensed 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 3 years to complete, making the overall investment of time 7 years in the majority of cases. Clinical or practical training is an intregal element in addition to the considerable lab and classroom instruction. Therefor the fulfillment of an internship is required, 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 attainable in the USA. A number of licensed physical therapists having a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the existing licensing mandate for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapy Degrees Online

Gilbert Arizona woman taking physical therapy classes onlineAlthough not as prevalent as the more traditional alternatives, there are many accredited online physical therapy programs available, more so at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on structure of the training, clinical lab work and internships are integrated with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live near the college campus or nearby a sponsored internship. Fortunately, the online part of the program can be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Gilbert AZ home. Online programs are not only partially more accessible, but in many cases more economical. Tuition may be significantly lower than comparable on campus options, and expenses for commuting are minimized. And a number of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These benefits may make the online alternative the right choice for those students that are motivated enough to attend classes at home.

Questions to Ask Physical Therapy Schools

At this point you most likely have made a decision concerning several of your preliminary questions, 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 considering there are so many PT colleges within the Gilbert AZ area and across Arizona, you'll have to research other qualifications as well in order to further narrow your list of college options. Furthermore, you want to make certain that you pick the school that is best for you. That's why we have collected a list of critical questions that you need to ask the physical therapy schools you are considering. Ask all of the competing colleges these questions prior to making a final selection.

Is the Physical Therapy Program Accredited?  Find out if the programs you are looking at have earned accreditation from a national or a regional agency. As earlier stated, if you are pursuing a doctoral degree the program must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). If you choose an online college, it may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's essential that both the physical therapy program and school you choose are accredited, not simply the school. Also, verify that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. In addition to guaranteeing that you obtain a quality education, accreditation might be mandated for state licensing as well as for getting student loans or financial assistance.

What is the School's Reputation? In addition to accreditation, it's imperative that the college and program you pick have excellent reputations within the physical therapy community. There are multiple ways you can investigate a PT college's reputation, beginning with requesting references from employers that they place their graduates with. You can also search for online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. Contact a few Gilbert AZ physical therapy clinics or other health care facilities that you might have an interest in working for and ask if they can offer any insight about your program selections. It may also be a good idea to contact the Arizona Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been filed against the schools.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? There are a two relevant statistics that you should find out about all of the physical therapy colleges you are reviewing. One is their graduation rate. A low rate may indicate that students dropped out due to dissatisfaction with the program, the instructors, or both. After the students have graduated, how many of them are being hired with the support of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Gilbert 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 program has a large network of contacts to help students obtain internships or jobs after graduation.

Does the College Support Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the program you enroll in provides both superior training and a course of study that satisfies the licensing requirements for Arizona or the state where you will be practicing. In each state a passing score is required on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) as well as a degree from an accredited physical therapy school. Although licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PTA and PT graduates, some states require a minimum number of clinical hours be completed and passing scores on supplemental exams.

Are Internships Provided? Inquire if the physical therapist schools you are assessing have relationships with Gilbert AZ clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a great way to get practical training in a clinical environment, they are also a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they can help students and graduates form professional connections in the Gilbert health care community and help with job placement once licensed.

What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of person that likes to sit way in the back of class or get lost in the crowd, you will probably want a small class size. Smaller classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapy colleges you are researching what the typical student to teacher 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 talk with a few of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the physical therapist program as well.

Where is the Program Located? For a number of students, the physical therapy school they pick will need to be within driving distance of their Gilbert AZ residence. Students 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 bear in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a program that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges generally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges frequently charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.

Is Financial Assistance Provided? The majority of DPT colleges provide some form of financial aid to their potential students. Find out if the colleges you are looking at have a financial assistance department and find out what kind of aid is obtainable. At a minimum they should help in acquiring a student loan or any scholarships you may be eligible for. Some physical therapy schools offer scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before you eliminate a program because the tuition is beyond your budget, find out what financial aid may be available.

Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must verify that the physical therapy program you ultimately pick can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you decide to continue working while attending school. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Gilbert 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 enroll in. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss because of illness, work or family obligations.

Find Out More About Gilbert Physical Therapist Courses

Enroll in the Right Gilbert Physical Therapy School

Choosing the ideal physical therapist school is a necessary initial decision you have to make to start a rewarding career in the healthcare profession. As we have covered in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and school you pick should both have exceptional reputations and be accredited. But there are other critical questions that you should ask pertaining to your college of choice as well. As you start your search for a physical therapy college bear in mind that a number of factors will lead you to your final decision. You might want to go to each of the campuses to view their facilities and speak with current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this program help me realize my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By adhering to our list of supplemental questions, you will be able to narrow down the options so you can make the right selection. And with the proper training and education, you can achieve your dream of becoming a practicing physical therapist in Gilbert Arizona.


 

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