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How to Pick the Right Physical Therapist College Near Glendale Arizona

Glendale Arizona physical therapist working with female patient using exercise ballGetting a physical therapist degree near Glendale AZ is a critical first step to starting 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 can practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they need to get the appropriate training and education. A PT must also be licensed in every state, many requiring that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So prior to choosing a physical therapy school, it's essential to investigate those you are considering to ensure they will furnish a quality education and meet your state's licensing standards. What you do not want to do is enroll in a college simply because it happens to be the nearest to your residence or it has cheapest tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that must be evaluated besides location and cost. But before we cover 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 Does a Physical Therapist Do?

Glendale Arizona physical therapist helping female patient to walk

Physical therapists practice in varying settings, including Glendale AZ private practices, hospitals, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and sports facilities. What the facilities all have in common is that they have the equipment for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As earlier touched on, physical therapists help individuals that are suffering from a lack of mobility and in many cases pain due to illness or injury. After patient diagnosis, they develop a program of treatment to deal with the mobility issues and reduce or eliminate any pain. They also try to prevent any progression of the disability. Though the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are abundant, they include:

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

Licensed physical therapists practice in close affiliation with other Glendale AZ medical specialists, including doctors, chiropractors, dentists and nurses. They may also supervise several physical therapy assistants who work for them assisting with 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 routinely lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and stand, crouch and kneel for long periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapist Degrees Offered

Glendale Arizona physical therapist working with patient in pool

There are three physical therapist degree options offered for students to enroll in at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these choices, the only degree that is attainable 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 progress to the doctoral level. Following are brief summaries of degrees that are offered to prospective students in the Glendale AZ area:

  • Associate Degrees prepare students to practice as physical therapy assistants, or may be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Candidates must have obtained a high school diploma or GED to be accepted for enrollment. The degrees are usually provided by community or junior colleges, and require two years for completion. An internship or other form of clinical training is typically a component of the curriculum.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapy training to prep students to advance to the doctoral level. While they are not required to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an important first step to becoming a PT. As with the majority of bachelor's degrees, they generally take 4 years to finish and often include an internship program of at least 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are required if you want to become a practicing licensed 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 3 years to complete, making the overall investment of time 7 years in the majority of cases. Practical or clinical training is an important component in addition to the extensive lab and classroom instruction. Therefor the fulfillment of an internship is required, not only for graduation but in some states for licensing as well.

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. A number of licensed physical therapists holding a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the current licensing requirement for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapist Online Degrees

Glendale Arizona woman taking physical therapy classes onlineAlthough not as prevalent as the more traditional alternatives, there are a number of accredited online physical therapy programs available, even more at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on nature of the training, clinical lab work and internships are integrated with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live close to the college campus or nearby a sponsored internship. Fortunately, the online part of the program can 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 cases more economical. Tuition may be somewhat lower than comparable on campus options, and expenses for commuting are minimized. And many of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These advantages may make the online alternative the best choice for those students that are disciplined enough to learn at home.

Topics to Ask Physical Therapist Schools

At this point you most likely have come to decision regarding some of your preliminary queries, like the type of physical therapy degree you intend to earn, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much you can afford to spend for your education. But since there are so many PT colleges within the Glendale AZ area and throughout Arizona, you'll have to look into other qualifications as well in order to further narrow your list of college options. Also, you want to make sure that you select 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 therapist schools you are thinking about. Ask each of the competing colleges these questions prior to making a final selection.

Is the Physical Therapy College Accredited?  Ask if the schools you are reviewing have received accreditation from a national or a regional 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 select an online college, it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's essential that both the physical therapist school and program you choose are accredited, not simply the school. Additionally, verify that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Along with guaranteeing that you obtain an excellent education, accreditation might be mandated for state licensing and even for securing student loans or financial aid.

What is the College's Standing? In addition to accreditation, it's important that the college and program you select have outstanding reputations within the physical therapist community. There are a number of ways you can look into a PT program's reputation, starting with requesting references from employers that they place their graduates with. You may also search for online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Contact several Glendale AZ physical therapist centers or other health care facilities that you might have an interest in working for and ask if they can give you any recommendations about your program selections. It may also be prudent 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 Program's Job Placement Rate? There are a couple of useful statistics that you need to find out about each of the physical therapy schools you are reviewing. First is their graduation rate. A low rate might suggest that students dropped out because of dissatisfaction with the program, the instructors, or both. Once the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being hired with the support of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Glendale AZ area? If a program has a high job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the healthcare field is good or even exceptional. It also affirms that the school has a wide network of contacts to assist students obtain internships or employment upon graduation.

Does the Program Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the program you enroll in provides both excellent training and a curriculum that satisfies the licensing criteria for Arizona or the state where you will be working. In every state a passing score is needed on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapist college. Although licensing requirements vary state by state for PT and PTA graduates, a number of states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be completed as well as passing scores on supplemental exams.

Are Internship Programs Provided? Inquire if the physical therapy programs you are reviewing have relationships with Glendale AZ hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific means to obtain hands on experience in a clinical environment, they are also a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they can help graduates and students form professional connections in the Glendale healthcare community and assist with obtaining employment once licensed.

What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of student that prefers to sit far in the rear of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will likely prefer a smaller class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapist schools you are looking at what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. 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 several of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapy program also.

Where is the School Located? For a number of students, the physical therapist school they decide on will have to be within commuting distance of their Glendale AZ residence. Those who have opted to attend online classes naturally will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. Something to keep 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 may need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges normally 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 Support Offered? The majority of DPT colleges supply some form of financial aid to their prospective students. Ask if the schools you are looking at have a financial assistance office and see what kind of help is offered. They at least should help in acquiring a student loan or any scholarships you might qualify for. A number of physical therapy schools provide scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before eliminating a program because the tuition is too expensive, ask what financial assistance might be available.

Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must verify that the physical therapy program you finally pick can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you opt to continue working while attending school. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Glendale AZ area, confirm that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would need to carry. Also, learn what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss due to work, illness or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Glendale Online Physical Therapy Programs

Choose the Best Glendale Physical Therapist School

Deciding on the best physical therapy college is a necessary first decision you have to make to begin a fulfilling career in the medical profession. As we have addressed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and school you decide on should both have outstanding reputations and be accredited. 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 therapy college keep in mind that a number of factors will lead you toward your final decision. You might want to visit different campuses to see 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 licensed practicing physical therapist? By adhering to our list of supplemental questions, you will be able to narrow down the field so you can make the ideal choice. And with the proper training and education, you can fulfill your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in Glendale Arizona.


 

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