How to Enroll In the Right Physical Therapy Training Program Near Glendale Arizona
Getting a physical therapy degree near Glendale AZ is an essential first step to beginning a fulfilling career in the medical care field. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been incapacitated as a result of injury or illness regain function and mobility. But before they may legally practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they must receive the proper education and training. A PT must also become licensed in all states, many requiring 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 looking at to make sure they will deliver a quality education and meet your state's licensing standards. What you do not want to do is select a school just because it happens to be the nearest to your home or it has cheapest tuition. There are other important qualifications that need to be evaluated besides location and cost. But before we talk about 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 varying settings, including Glendale AZ hospitals, health clinics, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and health clubs. What the facilities all have in common is that they have the equipment for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As earlier mentioned, physical therapists help individuals that are suffering from a lack of mobility and often pain due to injury or illness. After patient diagnosis, they create a course of treatment to address the mobility problems and lessen or eradicate any pain. They also try to stop any progression of the disability. Though the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are abundant, they include:
- Osteoporosis and Arthritis
- Car or motor cycle accidents
- Cardiac arrest
- Sports injuries
- Burn injuries
- Knee Replacement
- Multiple Sclerosis
Licensed physical therapists work in close partnerships with other Glendale AZ medical specialists, including chiropractors, physicians, dentists and nurses. They can also manage 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 considering getting into the physical therapy field, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists routinely lift patients and heavy equipment, and kneel, crouch and stand for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapy Degree Options
There are three physical therapist degree options offered for students to enroll in at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these options, the only degree that is attainable that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees emphasize either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or prepping them to progress to the doctoral level. Below are short summaries of degree levels that are offered to prospective students in the Glendale AZ area:
- Associate Degrees prepare students to be physical therapy assistants, or can be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Applicants must have earned a high school diploma or equivalent to qualify for enrollment. The programs are typically provided by junior or community colleges, and require two years to complete. An internship or other form of clinical training is normally part of the program.
- Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapy training to ready students to progress to the doctoral level. Although they are not required to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an integral initial step to becoming a PT. Similar to most bachelor's degrees, they generally require four years to finish and often include an internship program of at least 500 hours.
- Doctorate Degrees are a requirement in order to become a licensed practicing physical therapist. The degree program also must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). After earning the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes three years to complete, making the overall investment of time 7 years in the majority of cases. Clinical or practical training is an essential element along with the substantial classroom and lab instruction. Consequently the completion of an internship is required, not only 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 phased out and is no longer offered 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 existing licensing mandate for a doctorate was implemented.
Physical Therapy Degrees Online
While not as prevalent as the more traditional alternatives, there are some accredited online physical therapist programs available, even more at the graduate level. Because of 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. However, the online part of the curriculum may be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Glendale AZ home. Online schools are not only to some extent more accessible, but in many instances more economical. Tuition may be significantly less than similar on-campus alternatives, and expenditures for commuting are reduced. And a number of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These advantages may make the online option the right choice for those students that are dedicated enough to attend classes at home.
Questions to Ask Physical Therapy Schools
At this point you undoubtedly have come to decision concerning a few of your initial questions, including the kind of physical therapy degree you intend to attain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much you can afford to invest in your education. But because there are so many PT schools within the Glendale AZ area and across Arizona, you'll have to explore additional qualifications also in order to further narrow your list of college options. Also, you need to make sure that you enroll in the school that is ideal for you. That's why we have put together a list of important questions that you need to ask the physical therapist colleges you are considering. Ask all of the competing colleges these questions before making an ultimate decision.
Is the Physical Therapy School Accredited? Ask if the colleges you are considering have received accreditation from a regional or a national agency. As earlier 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 program, it can 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 just the school. Additionally, check that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Besides guaranteeing that you obtain an excellent education, accreditation might be mandated for state licensing as well as for getting student loans or financial assistance.
What is the Program's Standing? Along with accreditation, it's imperative that the school and program you pick have excellent reputations within the physical therapist profession. There are several ways you can investigate a PT college's reputation, beginning with requesting references from employers that they refer their students to. You may also search for online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Get in touch with some Glendale AZ physical therapist centers or other healthcare facilities that you might have an interest in working for and ask if they can give you any recommendations about your college options. 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 Rate? There are a two relevant statistics that you need to find out about all of the physical therapist schools you are considering. One is their graduation rate. A low rate might mean that students dropped out because of dissatisfaction with the program, the teachers, or both. After the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being placed in jobs with the help of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Glendale AZ area? If a program has a higher job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the healthcare field is good or perhaps excellent. It also confirms that the program has a broad network of contacts to help students gain internships or employment upon graduation.
Does the College Support Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the college you choose provides both excellent training and a curriculum that supports the licensing requirements for Arizona or the state where you will be working. In every state a passing score is required on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) as well as a degree from an accredited physical therapist program. Although licensing requirements vary state by state for PTA and PT graduates, a number of states require a minimum number of clinical hours be performed and passing scores on additional tests.
Are Internships Offered? Ask if the physical therapist programs you are reviewing have relationships with Glendale AZ clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only a terrific way to obtain practical training in a clinical setting, they are additionally a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they may help students and graduates form professional connections in the Glendale health care community and assist with job placement after licensing.
What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of student that likes to sit way in the back of class or hide in the crowd, you will likely want a smaller class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapy schools you are considering what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you an opportunity to speak with some of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapy program as well.
Where is the School Located? For a number of students, the physical therapy school they choose will have to be within travelling distance of their Glendale AZ home. Individuals who have opted to attend online classes obviously will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. Something to bear in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a college that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges typically charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges often charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.
Is Financial Help Provided? Most DPT schools provide some form of financial support to their potential students. Inquire if the schools you are considering have a financial aid office and see what type of assistance is offered. They at least should help in securing a student loan or any scholarships you may qualify for. Some physical therapy colleges provide scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before eliminating a college because the tuition is too expensive, ask what financial aid may be available.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must confirm that the physical therapist school you ultimately select can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly essential if you opt to continue working while you attend school. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Glendale AZ area, check that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, verify if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would need to carry. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss because of illness, work or family obligations.
Choose the Best Glendale Physical Therapy School
Picking the right physical therapist school is a necessary initial decision you need to make to begin a gratifying career in the medical profession. As we have addressed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and college you decide on should both have outstanding reputations and be accredited. However there are additional critical questions that you should ask regarding your college of choice also. As you commence your search for a physical therapy program keep in mind that a number of variables will guide you to your final decision. You may decide to visit different colleges to view their facilities and speak to current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this program help me reach my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By following our list of supplemental questions, you will be able to narrow down the field so you can make the right selection. And with the necessary education and training, you can achieve your dream of becoming a practicing physical therapist in Glendale Arizona.