How to Choose the Right Physical Therapy Course Near Glendale Arizona
Earning a physical therapist degree near Glendale AZ is a critical first step to launching a rewarding career in the healthcare field. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been debilitated due to injury or illness regain mobility and function. But before they may legally practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they need to receive the proper education and training. A PT must additionally become licensed in all states, many mandating that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So prior to enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's necessary to investigate the ones you are thinking about to ensure they will provide a superior education and satisfy your state's licensing standards. What you should not do is choose a college simply because it happens to be the closest to your residence or it has cheapest tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that need to be evaluated in addition to location and cost. But before we discuss what those qualifications are and the questions you should be asking, we'll cover what a physical therapist does and what the educational options are.
What is a Physical Therapist's Job Description?
Physical therapists practice in a variety of settings, including Glendale AZ private practices, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and health clubs. What the facilities all have in common is that they are equipped for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As earlier touched on, physical therapists help patients that are experiencing a lack of mobility and often pain due to injury or illness. After diagnosing a patient, they design a program of treatment to deal with the mobility issues and reduce or eradicate any pain. They also strive to stop any advancement of the disability. Though the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are numerous, they include:
- Osteoporosis and Arthritis
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Head injuries
- Heart attacks
- Sports injuries
- Fire injuries
- Hip Replacement
- Multiple Sclerosis
Licensed physical therapists work in close partnerships with other Glendale AZ health professionals, including doctors, chiropractors, registered nurses and dentists. They may also supervise 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 going into the physical therapy profession, it is rather 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 Degrees Offered
There are three physical therapy degrees offered for students to enroll in at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these choices, the only degree that is offered that qualifies the graduate to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees focus on either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or prepping them to advance to the doctoral level. Below are brief explanations of degree levels that are offered to prospective students in the Glendale AZ area:
- Associate Degrees educate students to become physical therapy assistants, or can be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Candidates must have obtained a high school diploma or equivalent to be accepted for enrollment. The programs are usually provided by junior or community colleges, and take about 2 years to complete. An internship or other form of clinical training is typically part of the course of study.
- Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapy education to prepare students to move up to the doctoral level. While they are not required to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an essential initial step to practicing as a PT. Similar to most bachelor's degrees, they normally require four years to complete and usually incorporate an internship program of at least 500 hours.
- Doctorate Degrees are required 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 3 years to finish, making the overall commitment seven years in most cases. Clinical or practical training is an intregal element along with the considerable lab and classroom 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 available in the United States. Some practicing physical therapists holding a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the existing licensing mandate for a doctorate was instituted.
Physical Therapist Online Colleges
Although not as prevalent as the on campus options, there are many accredited online physical therapist degrees available, more so at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on structure of the training, clinical lab work and internships are combined with the online classes. This requires that the student live near the school campus or in proximity of an available internship. Fortunately, the online segment of the program can be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Glendale AZ home. Online schools are not only to some extent more accessible, but in many cases more affordable. Tuition might be significantly less than comparable on-campus options, and expenses for commuting are minimized. And a number of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These benefits can make the online alternative the ideal choice for those students that are disciplined enough to learn at home.
Questions to Ask Physical Therapy Schools
At this point you most likely have made a decision concerning a few of your preliminary queries, such as the kind of physical therapist degree you intend to earn, where you want to attend classes, and how much you can afford to invest in your education. But because there are numerous PT colleges within the Glendale AZ area and across Arizona, you'll need to explore additional qualifications as well in order to further narrow your list of college options. Moreover, you want to be sure that you choose the program that is right for you. That's the reason we have compiled a list of important questions that you must ask the physical therapist colleges you are reviewing. Ask each of the competing schools these questions prior to making an ultimate selection.
Is the Physical Therapist College Accredited? Find out if the colleges you are looking at have received accreditation from a national or a regional 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 enroll in an online college, it may also receive 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, make sure that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Besides ensuring that you obtain a quality education, accreditation might be required for state licensing and even for securing student loans or financial assistance.
What is the Program's Reputation? In addition to accreditation, it's imperative that the college and program you choose have outstanding reputations within the physical therapy community. There are multiple ways you can investigate a PT school's reputation, beginning with requesting references from employers that they place their graduates with. You may also search for online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Get in touch with several Glendale AZ physical therapy clinics or other healthcare facilities that you may have an interest in working for and ask if they can provide any recommendations about your school 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 submitted against the colleges.
What is the School's Job Placement Percentage? There are a two useful statistics that you need to find out about all of the physical therapy schools you are reviewing. One is their graduation rate. A low rate may suggest that students left because of displeasure with the program, the instructors, or both. After the students have graduated, how many of them are being placed in jobs with the assistance of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Glendale AZ area? If a college has a high job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the health care community is good or perhaps exceptional. It also verifies that the college has a large network of contacts to help students gain internships or jobs after graduation.
Does the Program Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the school you select provides both exceptional training and a course of study that supports the licensing requirements 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 vary state by state for PT and PTA graduates, some states require a minimum number of clinical hours be completed and passing scores on supplemental exams.
Are Internship Programs Provided? Find out if the physical therapist colleges you are reviewing have partnerships with Glendale AZ clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only a great manner to obtain practical training in a clinical setting, they are also a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they can assist students and graduates establish professional connections in the Glendale health care community and assist with job placement after licensing.
What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of student that likes to sit far in the rear of class or get lost in the crowd, you will probably want a smaller class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapy colleges you are researching what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you a chance to talk with a few of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapist program as well.
Where is the Program Located? For a number of students, the physical therapy school they choose will need to be within travelling distance of their Glendale AZ home. Students who have decided to attend classes online obviously will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. One thing to keep in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a program that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges usually charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges typically charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.
Is Financial Support Provided? Most DPT colleges supply some form of financial assistance to their potential students. Ask if the schools you are considering have a financial assistance department and find out what kind of help is obtainable. At a minimum they should help in securing a student loan or any scholarships you might qualify for. Some physical therapist colleges offer scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before you eliminate a school because the tuition is too expensive, find out what financial assistance may be available.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to confirm that the physical therapy college you ultimately choose can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you choose to continue working while you attend classes. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Glendale AZ area, make sure 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, ask what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Glendale Physical Therapist School
Selecting the right physical therapy program is a necessary initial decision you have to make to launch a rewarding career in the medical field. As we have addressed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and school you select should both have excellent reputations and be accredited. But there are other relevant questions that you should ask regarding your school of choice also. As you begin your search for a physical therapy college keep in mind that a number of factors will lead you toward your ultimate decision. You might decide to go to different colleges to see their facilities and speak with active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this program help me reach 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 best choice. And with the proper education and training, you can accomplish your dream of becoming a practicing physical therapist in Glendale Arizona.