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

Gilbert Arizona physical therapist working with woman holding balance ballEarning a physical therapist degree near Gilbert AZ is an essential first step to beginning a rewarding career in the medical care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been disabled due to injury or illness gain back function and mobility. But before they can practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they must receive the necessary education and training. A PT must additionally be licensed in every state, many mandating that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So prior to choosing a physical therapy school, it's essential to research those you are considering to make certain they will supply a quality education and comply with your state's licensing criteria. What you should not do is select a school simply because it happens to be the nearest to your residence or it has the lowest tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that need to be considered in addition to 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 the options for education.

What is a Physical Therapist?

Gilbert Arizona physical therapist assisting female patient to walk

Physical therapists practice in diverse locations, such as Gilbert AZ hospitals, health clinics, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and health clubs. What the facilities all share in common is that they have the equipment for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As previously mentioned, physical therapists help people that are experiencing a lack of mobility and in many cases pain due to illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they create a program of treatment to address the mobility problems and reduce or eliminate any pain. They also endeavor to stop any advancement of the disability. Although the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are numerous, they include:

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

Licensed physical therapists practice in close partnerships with other Gilbert AZ medical specialists, including doctors, chiropractors, registered nurses and dentists. They may also oversee one or more physical therapy assistants who work for them assisting with diagnosing and treating their patients. Something to take note of for anyone thinking about entering the physical therapy field, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift patients and heavy equipment, and stand, crouch and kneel for long periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degrees

Gilbert Arizona DPT working with man in pool

There are 3 physical therapy degrees offered for individuals to enroll in at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these options, the only degree that is attainable 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 readying them to progress to the doctoral level. Following are short summaries of degree levels that are available to prospective students in the Gilbert AZ area:

  • Associate Degrees educate students to practice as physical therapy assistants, or may be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Applicants must have earned a high school diploma or GED to be accepted for enrollment. The programs are most often provided by community colleges, and take about two years to complete. An internship or other form of clinical training is normally a component of the course of study.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapist training to ready students to progress to the doctoral level. Although they are not a requirement to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an important preliminary step to practicing as a PT. As with most bachelor's degrees, they typically take four years to finish and usually incorporate an internship program of at least 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are mandated 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 complete, making the total investment of time 7 years in the majority of cases. Practical or clinical training is an important component along with the considerable classroom and lab instruction. Therefor the completion of an internship is mandated, not solely for graduation but in several states for licensing also.

The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) has replaced 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 even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the present licensing requirement for a doctorate was instituted.

Physical Therapist Online Degrees

Gilbert Arizona female student taking physical therapist training onlineWhile not as prevalent as the more traditional options, there are a number of accredited online physical therapy programs offered, even more 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 necessitates that the student live near the college campus or in proximity of an available internship. Fortunately, the online portion of the course of study can 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 cases more economical. Tuition might be significantly lower than comparable on-campus options, and costs for commuting are minimized. And a number of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These advantages may make the online option the ideal choice for those students that are motivated enough to attend classes at home.

Topics to Ask Physical Therapy Colleges

At this point you probably have come to decision regarding a few of your preliminary questions, such as the type of physical therapy degree you intend to earn, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to spend for your education. But since there are numerous PT schools within the Gilbert AZ area and across Arizona, you'll have to look into other qualifications as well in order to further reduce your list of school options. Furthermore, you need to be sure that you pick the college that is right for you. That's why we have collected a list of essential questions that you need to ask the physical therapy schools you are reviewing. Ask all of the potential colleges these questions before making a final selection.

Is the Physical Therapy College Accredited?  Find out if the programs you are looking at have received accreditation from a regional or a national 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 choose an online college, it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's important that both the physical therapist school and program you choose are accredited, not simply the school. Also, verify that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. In addition to guaranteeing that you obtain a quality education, accreditation may be required for state licensing as well as for securing student loans or financial assistance.

What is the School's Standing? In addition to accreditation, it's essential that the college and program you pick have excellent reputations within the physical therapist community. There are multiple ways you can research a PT program's reputation, starting 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 agencies for their reviews also. Call several Gilbert AZ physical therapy centers or other health care facilities that you may have an interest in working for and ask if they can offer any recommendations about your school 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 colleges.

What is the Program's Job Placement Percentage? There are a couple of relevant statistics that you need to know about all of the physical therapy programs you are considering. One is their graduation rate. A lower rate might indicate that students left because of displeasure with the program, the instructors, or both. After the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being hired with the assistance of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Gilbert AZ area? If a school has a higher job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the health care community is good or perhaps exceptional. It also confirms that the school has a large network of contacts to assist students get internships or employment upon graduation.

Does the Program Support Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the program you select provides both superior training and a course of study 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) in addition to a degree from an accredited physical therapy program. Although licensing requirements differ state by state for PT and PTA graduates, a number of states require a minimum number of clinical hours be performed and passing scores on supplemental exams.

Are Internships Offered? Ask if the physical therapy schools you are assessing have associations with Gilbert AZ clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only a terrific means to obtain practical experience in a clinical setting, they are also a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they may help students and graduates develop professional relationships in the Gilbert healthcare community and assist 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 class or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a small class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapy colleges you are considering 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 final determination. This will also give you an opportunity to converse with several of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the physical therapy program as well.

Where is the Program Located? For many students, the physical therapist college they decide on will have to be within travelling distance of their Gilbert AZ residence. Students who have chosen to attend classes online naturally will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. Something to consider is that if you choose to enroll in a college that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges normally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges commonly charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.

Is Financial Support Provided? The majority of DPT schools supply some form of financial aid to their prospective students. Inquire if the colleges you are reviewing have a financial aid department and see what type of help is obtainable. At a minimum they should help in getting a student loan or any grants you may qualify for. Some physical therapy colleges offer scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before eliminating a program because the tuition is beyond your budget, ask what financial assistance might be available.

Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to confirm that the physical therapist college you finally choose can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you opt to continue working while you attend classes. 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, find out if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would have to enroll in. Also, find out what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of illness, work or family obligations.

Learn More About Gilbert Online Physical Therapist Courses

Enroll in the Best Gilbert Physical Therapist School

Selecting the best physical therapist college is an important first decision you must make to begin a fulfilling career in the health care profession. As we have addressed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and school you decide on should both have exceptional reputations and accreditation. However there are additional relevant questions that you need to ask concerning your school of choice as well. As you commence your search for a physical therapist college bear in mind that numerous factors will lead you to your final decision. You might decide to go to each of the colleges to see their facilities and speak with active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this school help me achieve my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By following our list of additional questions, you will be able to narrow down the field so you can make the appropriate selection. And with the necessary training and education, you can achieve your dream to become a licensed physical therapist in Gilbert Arizona.


 

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