How to Enroll In the Right Physical Therapy Course Near Gilbert Arizona
Getting a physical therapy degree near Gilbert AZ is an essential first step to beginning a fulfilling career in the healthcare field. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been disabled due to injury or illness gain back mobility and function. But before they can practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they must acquire the necessary training and education. A PT must also become licensed in all states, many mandating that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So before enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's necessary to evaluate those you are thinking about to make certain they will deliver a superior education and satisfy your state's licensing requirements. What you should not do is enroll in a college simply because it happens to be the closest to your residence or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other significant qualifications that need to be considered in addition to 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 Do Physical Therapists Do?
Physical therapists practice in a variety of settings, 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 the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As previously stated, physical therapists help people that are experiencing a lack of mobility and in many cases pain due to injury or illness. After patient diagnosis, they design a program of treatment to resolve the mobility issues and lessen or eradicate any pain. They also strive to prevent any progression of the disability. Although the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are numerous, they include:
- Osteoporosis and Arthritis
- Car or motor cycle accidents
- Heart attacks
- Sports injuries
- Fire injuries
- Knee Replacement
- Cerebral Palsy
Licensed physical therapists work in close affiliation with other Gilbert AZ medical professionals, including chiropractors, physicians, registered nurses and dentists. They can also supervise one or more physical therapy assistants who work under them in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. Something to take note of for anyone considering entering the physical therapy field, it is quite 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 Degree Options
There are 3 physical therapist degrees offered for students to pursue at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these alternatives, the single degree that is available 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. Below are short explanations of degree levels that are available to prospective students in the Gilbert AZ area:
- Associate Degrees prepare students to practice as physical therapy assistants, or may be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Candidates must have obtained a high school diploma or GED to qualify for enrollment. The programs are typically offered by community colleges, and require two years for completion. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is normally a portion of the program.
- Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapy education to ready candidates to progress to the doctoral level. Although they are not a requirement to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an integral first step to becoming a PT. As with most bachelor's degrees, they generally require four years to complete and commonly include an internship program of at least 500 hours.
- Doctorate Degrees are a requirement 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 three years to finish, making the overall investment of time 7 years in the majority of cases. Clinical or practical training is an intregal component in addition to the considerable classroom and lab instruction. Therefor the fulfillment of an internship is required, not solely for graduation but in a number of 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. A number of practicing physical therapists having a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the present licensing mandate for a doctorate was instituted.
Physical Therapy Online Programs
While not as common as the on-campus options, there are a number of accredited online physical therapist programs offered, more so at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on structure of the training, internships and clinical lab work are incorporated with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live near the college campus or in proximity of an available internship. Fortunately, the online segment 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 partially more accessible, but in a number of cases more affordable. Tuition might be significantly lower than comparable on-campus alternatives, and costs for commuting are minimized. And many of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These advantages can make the online option the right choice for those students that are motivated enough to learn at home.
What to Ask Physical Therapy Programs
By now you undoubtedly have come to decision regarding some of your preliminary questions, such as the kind of physical therapist degree you want to obtain, where you want to attend classes, and how much you can afford to spend for your education. But because there are so many PT colleges within the Gilbert AZ area and throughout Arizona, you'll have to look into additional qualifications also in order to further narrow your list of school options. Furthermore, you want to make certain that you choose the college that is best for you. That's the reason we have compiled a list of critical questions that you need to ask the physical therapy programs you are reviewing. Ask each of the potential colleges these questions before making a final decision.
Is the Physical Therapy College Accredited? Ask if the schools you are reviewing have earned accreditation from a national or a regional agency. As previously 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 enroll in an online school, it can also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapy school and program you choose are accredited, not just the school. Additionally, make sure that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Besides ensuring that you obtain a quality education, accreditation may be required for state licensing and even for securing student loans or financial assistance.
What is the College's Ranking? In addition to accreditation, it's important that the school and program you select have outstanding reputations within the physical therapist community. There are several ways you can look into 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. Call some Gilbert AZ physical therapist clinics or other health care facilities that you may have an interest in working for and ask if they can give you any recommendations about your program selections. It may also be a good idea to check with the Arizona Attorney General and school licensing authority to find out if any complaints have been filed against the schools.
What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? There are a couple of important statistics that you should find out about all of the physical therapy programs you are considering. First is their graduation rate. A low rate may mean that students left because of displeasure with the program, the instructors, or both. After the students have graduated, how many of them are being hired with the support of the school'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 health care field is good or perhaps excellent. It also confirms that the college has a wide network of contacts to help students gain internships or employment after graduation.
Does the School Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the college you choose furnishes 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) in addition to a degree from an accredited physical therapist college. While licensing requirements vary state by state for PTA and PT graduates, a number of states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be performed and passing scores on supplemental exams.
Are Internships Provided? Inquire if the physical therapist colleges you are assessing have relationships with Gilbert AZ hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships a great way to get hands on experience in a clinical setting, they are also a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they may assist students and graduates establish professional relationships in the Gilbert healthcare community and help with obtaining employment once licensed.
How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of person that prefers to sit way in the rear of class or get lost in the crowd, you will probably prefer a smaller class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapy colleges you are looking at what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to sit in on one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you a chance to speak with a few of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the physical therapist program also.
Where is the College Located? For many students, the physical therapy school they pick 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 worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of importance. One thing to consider is that if you choose to enroll in a school that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you may be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges often charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges normally charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.
Is Financial Aid Provided? The majority of DPT schools offer some form of financial assistance to their prospective students. Find out if the schools you are examining have a financial assistance department and see what type of help is obtainable. At a minimum they should help in getting a student loan or any scholarships you might be eligible for. Some physical therapy schools offer scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before you eliminate a school because the tuition is beyond your budget, ask what financial assistance may be available.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to verify that the physical therapy college you ultimately select can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly essential if you decide to continue working while attending school. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Gilbert AZ area, make certain that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would have to carry. Also, find out what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss because of illness, work or family obligations.
Choose the Right Gilbert Physical Therapist School
Deciding on the right physical therapist program is an important initial decision you have to make to launch a gratifying career in the healthcare field. As we have discussed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and college you select should both have exceptional reputations and be accredited. But there are other relevant questions that you need to ask regarding your college of choice as well. As you begin your search for a physical therapist school keep in mind that numerous factors will guide you toward your ultimate decision. You might want to visit each of the campuses to view their facilities and speak to active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this college help me achieve 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 options so you can make the best selection. And with the necessary education and training, you can achieve your dream to become a licensed physical therapist in Gilbert Arizona.