How to Enroll In the Right Physical Therapist Program Near Gold Canyon Arizona
Obtaining a physical therapy degree near Gold Canyon AZ is an essential first step to beginning a fulfilling career in the medical care field. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been debilitated 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 need to get the necessary training and education. A PT must also be licensed in all states, many mandating that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So prior to choosing a physical therapy school, it's important to research those you are considering to make certain they will deliver a quality education and satisfy your state's licensing criteria. What you should not do is choose a college simply because it happens to be the closest to your residence or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other important qualifications that need to be evaluated 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 Does a Physical Therapist Do?
Physical therapists practice in diverse settings, including Gold Canyon AZ hospitals, health clinics, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and health clubs. What the facilities all share in common is that they have the equipment for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As earlier touched on, physical therapists help patients that are struggling with a lack of mobility and often pain caused by injury or illness. After patient diagnosis, they create a course of treatment to address the mobility issues and lessen or eliminate any pain. They also endeavor to prevent any progression of the disability. While the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are abundant, they include:
- Arthritis or Osteoporosis
- Car or motor cycle accidents
- Head injuries
- Heart attacks
- Sports injuries
- Burn injuries
- Hip Replacement
- Cerebral Palsy
Licensed physical therapists work in close partnerships with other Gold Canyon AZ health professionals, including chiropractors, physicians, dentists and nurses. They can also oversee several physical therapy assistants who work under them assisting with diagnosing and treating their patients. One thing to bear in mind for anyone thinking about getting into the physical therapy field, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists often lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and kneel, crouch and stand for long periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapy Degree Options
There are 3 physical therapy 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 target either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or preparing them to progress to the doctoral level. Below are short explanations of degrees that are offered to prospective students in the Gold Canyon AZ area:
- Associate Degrees prepare students to practice as physical therapy assistants, or can be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Applicants must have a high school diploma or equivalent to be accepted for enrollment. The degrees are most often made available by community or junior colleges, and take about two years for completion. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is usually part of the curriculum.
- Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapist education to prep students to move up to the doctoral level. While they are not required to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an essential initial step to becoming a PT. As with most bachelor's degrees, they normally take 4 years to finish and often include an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
- Doctorate Degrees are mandated if you want to become a practicing licensed physical therapist. The degree program must also 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 complete, making the overall commitment seven years in most cases. Clinical training is an important element along with the extensive lab and classroom instruction. Consequently the completion 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 phased out and is no longer available in the USA. Some licensed physical therapists holding a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the current licensing requirement for a doctorate was instituted.
Physical Therapy Programs Online
While not as prevalent as the on campus alternatives, there are some accredited online physical therapist programs available, even more at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on structure of the training, internships and clinical lab work are integrated with the online classes. This requires that the student live close to the college campus or in proximity of an available internship. However, the online part of the course of study may be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Gold Canyon AZ home. Online schools are not only partially more accessible, but in many cases more affordable. Tuition can be somewhat lower than comparable on campus alternatives, and expenditures for commuting are minimized. And many of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These advantages may make the online alternative the best choice for those students that are motivated enough to learn at home.
What to Ask Physical Therapist Schools
At this point you probably have come to decision concerning a few of your preliminary questions, including the type of physical therapist degree you would like to earn, where you want to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to invest in your education. But because there are numerous PT schools within the Gold Canyon AZ area and across Arizona, you'll have to look into other qualifications as well in order to further narrow your list of school options. Moreover, you want to make sure that you pick the school that is right for you. That's why we have put together a list of important questions that you must ask the physical therapist schools you are reviewing. Ask all of the competing colleges these questions prior to making an ultimate decision.
Is the Physical Therapist Program Accredited? Find out if the schools you are looking at have earned accreditation from a regional or a national organization. As earlier 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 choose an online school, it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's essential that both the physical therapist program and school you select are accredited, not simply the school. Also, make sure that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Along with guaranteeing that you obtain an excellent education, accreditation may be required for state licensing as well as for securing student loans or financial assistance.
What is the College's Reputation? In addition to accreditation, it's important that the school and program you select have excellent reputations within the physical therapist profession. There are multiple ways you can look into a PT college's reputation, beginning with asking for 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 also. Call several Gold Canyon AZ physical therapist centers or other healthcare facilities that you may have an interest in working for and ask if they can provide any recommendations about your program selections. It may also be a good idea to contact the Arizona Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been filed against the colleges.
What is the School's Job Placement Rate? There are a couple of significant statistics that you should know about each of the physical therapy programs you are considering. First is their graduation rate. A lower rate may indicate that students dropped out due to displeasure with the program, the teachers, or both. Once the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being placed in jobs with the assistance of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Gold Canyon AZ area? If a program has a higher job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the health care field is good or perhaps exceptional. It also verifies that the program has a wide network of contacts to help students get internships or employment upon graduation.
Does the School Support Licensing Requirements? It's important that the college you choose furnishes both superior training and a curriculum that supports the licensing requirements for Arizona or the state where you will be working. In each state a passing score is needed on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) as well as a degree from an accredited physical therapist school. While licensing requirements vary state by state for PT and PTA graduates, a number of states require a minimum number of clinical hours be performed and passing scores on supplemental tests.
Are Internships Sponsored? Find out if the physical therapist schools you are assessing have partnerships with Gold Canyon AZ hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships an excellent way to get practical experience in a clinical environment, they are additionally a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they may help students and graduates establish professional connections in the Gold Canyon medical community and help with obtaining employment after licensing.
How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of person that prefers to sit way in the rear of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will likely want a small class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapy schools you are looking at what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you a chance to speak with a few of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the physical therapy program also.
Where is the Program Located? For many students, the physical therapy college they choose will have to be within commuting distance of their Gold Canyon AZ residence. Those who have decided to attend online classes obviously will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. One thing to keep in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a school that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges often charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges frequently charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? The majority of DPT schools provide some type of financial aid to their potential students. Inquire if the schools you are looking at have a financial assistance department and see what type of help is offered. They at least should help in acquiring a student loan or any grants you may be eligible for. Some physical therapist schools offer scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before eliminating a school because the tuition is beyond your budget, ask what financial assistance may be available.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must verify that the physical therapy college you finally select can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you choose to continue working while attending classes. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Gold Canyon AZ area, confirm that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, check if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would have to carry. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss due to illness, work or family obligations.
Choose the Right Gold Canyon Physical Therapist School
Deciding on the ideal physical therapist program is a necessary first decision you have to make to start a gratifying career in the medical profession. As we have addressed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and college you choose should both have excellent reputations and accreditation. However there are additional important questions that you should ask concerning your college of choice as well. As you commence your search for a physical therapist school bear in mind that many factors will guide you to your final decision. You may decide to visit each of the colleges to view their facilities and talk to active 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 supplemental questions, you will be able to narrow down the field so you can make the ideal selection. And with the proper education and training, you can achieve your dream of becoming a licensed physical therapist in Gold Canyon Arizona.