How to Find the Right Physical Therapist School Near Glendale Arizona
Earning a physical therapy degree near Glendale AZ is an essential first step to starting a rewarding career in the health care field. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been disabled as a result of illness or injury gain back mobility and function. But before they may legally practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they need to get the proper education and training. A PT must additionally be licensed in every state, many mandating that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So before choosing a physical therapy school, it's necessary to investigate those you are considering to ensure they will deliver a superior education and meet your state's licensing standards. What you should not do is select a school simply because it happens to be the nearest to your home or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other important qualifications that must be evaluated in addition to cost and location. 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 Does a Physical Therapist Do?
Physical therapists practice in a variety of settings, including Glendale AZ hospitals, health clinics, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and sports facilities. What the facilities all have in common is that they are equipped for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As earlier mentioned, physical therapists help people that are struggling with a lack of mobility and in many cases pain caused by illness or injury. After patient diagnosis, they design a course of treatment to resolve the mobility issues and lessen or eradicate any pain. They also try to stop any progression of the disability. Although the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are abundant, they include:
- Arthritis or Osteoporosis
- Car or motor cycle accidents
- Head injuries
- Cardiac arrest
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Fire injuries
- Knee Replacement
- Cerebral Palsy
Licensed physical therapists work in close affiliation with other Glendale AZ medical professionals, including doctors, chiropractors, dentists and nurses. They can also oversee one or more physical therapy assistants who work for them in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. One thing to bear in mind for anyone thinking about going into the physical therapy field, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists often lift patients and heavy equipment, and kneel, crouch and stand for long periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapist Degree Options
There are three physical therapy degree options available for students to pursue at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these choices, the only degree that is available that qualifies the graduate to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees emphasize either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or readying them to progress to the doctoral level. Following are brief explanations of degree levels that are available to prospective students in the Glendale AZ area:
- Associate Degrees educate students to be physical therapy assistants, or can be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Candidates must have a high school diploma or equivalent to be accepted for enrollment. The degrees are most often offered by community or junior colleges, and take about 2 years to complete. An internship or other form of clinical training is usually part of the course of study.
- Bachelor's Degrees are created 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 important initial step to becoming a PT. Similar to most bachelor's degrees, they normally take four years to complete and often incorporate an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
- Doctorate Degrees are a requirement in order to become a licensed practicing physical therapist. The degree program must also be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). After earning the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes three years to finish, making the overall investment of time seven years in most cases. Clinical or practical training is an important element along with the substantial classroom and lab instruction. Consequently the completion of an internship is mandated, not just 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 attainable in the USA. Some licensed physical therapists holding a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the current licensing mandate for a doctorate was instituted.
Physical Therapy Degrees Online
While not as common as the on campus alternatives, there are some accredited online physical therapist degrees available, even more at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on structure of the training, clinical lab work and internships are combined with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live near the school campus or nearby a sponsored internship. Fortunately, the online segment of the curriculum can be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Glendale AZ residence. Online schools are not only to some extent more accessible, but in many instances more economical. Tuition can be significantly lower than comparable on campus alternatives, and expenses for commuting are reduced. And many of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These benefits can make the online option the best choice for those students that are disciplined enough to attend classes at home.
Topics to Ask Physical Therapist Colleges
At this point you probably have come to decision concerning a few of your preliminary queries, including the kind of physical therapist degree you want to attain, where you want to attend classes, and how much you can afford to invest in your education. But because there are numerous PT schools within the Glendale AZ area and across Arizona, you'll need to research additional qualifications as well so as to further narrow your list of college choices. Moreover, you need to make sure that you choose the school that is right for you. That's the reason we have collected a list of critical questions that you must ask the physical therapy colleges you are thinking about. Ask each of the potential schools these questions before making an ultimate decision.
Is the Physical Therapy College Accredited? Ask if the colleges you are considering have received accreditation from a national or a regional agency. As previously 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 program, it can also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapist program and school you choose are accredited, not just the school. Additionally, make sure that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Besides ensuring that you obtain an excellent education, accreditation may be required for state licensing and even for getting student loans or financial aid.
What is the Program's Standing? In addition to accreditation, it's imperative that the college and program you select have excellent reputations within the physical therapist profession. There are a number of ways you can look into a PT school's reputation, starting with requesting 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 as well. Get in touch with a few Glendale AZ physical therapist centers or other medical care facilities that you might be interested in working for and ask if they can provide any insight about your program selections. 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 filed against the schools.
What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? There are a couple of significant statistics that you should find out about all of the physical therapist schools you are reviewing. First is their graduation rate. A lower rate may suggest that students left because of dissatisfaction 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 Glendale AZ area? If a school has a high 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 broad network of contacts to assist students obtain internships or jobs upon graduation.
Does the School Support Licensing Requirements? It's important that the college you choose furnishes both excellent training and a curriculum that supports the licensing criteria for Arizona or the state where you will be practicing. In every state a passing score is needed on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapist program. Although licensing requirements vary state by state for PTA and PT graduates, many states require a minimum number of clinical hours be performed as well as passing scores on additional tests.
Are Internship Programs Provided? Inquire if the physical therapist schools you are reviewing have associations with Glendale AZ clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific means to get practical training in a clinical environment, they are also a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they may assist students and graduates form professional connections in the Glendale medical community and help with obtaining employment once licensed.
What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the kind of student that likes to sit far in the rear of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will likely want a smaller class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapist 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 a chance to converse with some 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 therapist college they select will have to be within commuting distance of their Glendale AZ residence. Individuals who have chosen to attend classes online obviously will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. Something to bear in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a college that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges generally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges commonly charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? The majority of DPT colleges supply some type of financial aid to their potential students. Ask if the colleges you are reviewing have a financial assistance department and find out what kind of help is offered. At a minimum they should help in securing a student loan or any grants you might be eligible for. Some physical therapist colleges provide scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before eliminating a program because the tuition is beyond your budget, find out what financial aid may be available.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to confirm that the physical therapy college you ultimately pick can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you opt to continue working while attending school. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Glendale AZ area, make sure 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 need to enroll in. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss because of work, illness or family obligations.
Enroll in the Right Glendale Physical Therapist School
Selecting the right physical therapy school is a necessary first decision you have to make to begin a rewarding career in the medical profession. As we have discussed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and school you choose should both have outstanding reputations and be accredited. However there are other important questions that you need to ask pertaining to your school of choice also. As you start your search for a physical therapist program bear in mind that numerous factors will guide you to your ultimate decision. You may want to go to each of the colleges to see their facilities and talk with current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this college help me accomplish my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By adhering to our list of additional questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the field so you can make the appropriate choice. And with the necessary education and training, you can achieve your dream to become a licensed physical therapist in Glendale Arizona.