How to Enroll In the Right Physical Therapist School Near Gold Canyon Arizona
Earning a physical therapist degree near Gold Canyon AZ is an essential first step to starting a rewarding career in the health care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been incapacitated as a result of illness or injury regain mobility and function. But before they can practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they must obtain the appropriate education and training. A PT must additionally be licensed in all states, a large number requiring that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So before choosing a physical therapy school, it's important to research the ones you are thinking about to ensure they will furnish a quality education and comply with your state's licensing standards. What you do not want to do is enroll in a school simply because it happens to be the nearest to your home or it has the most affordable 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 address what a physical therapist does and the options for education.
What Do Physical Therapists Do?
Physical therapists work in diverse settings, such as 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 diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As previously touched on, physical therapists help patients that are suffering from a lack of mobility and frequently pain due to illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they develop a course of treatment to deal with the mobility problems and reduce or eradicate any pain. They also strive to prevent any advancement of the disability. Although the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are numerous, they include:
- Osteoporosis and Arthritis
- Car or motor cycle accidents
- Heart attacks
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Burn injuries
- Hip Replacement
- Multiple Sclerosis
Licensed physical therapists practice in close association with other Gold Canyon AZ medical specialists, including doctors, chiropractors, dentists and nurses. They can also oversee several physical therapy assistants who work for them in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. One thing to bear in mind for anyone considering getting into the physical therapy field, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and kneel, crouch and stand for extended periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapist Degrees Available
There are three physical therapist degree options offered for individuals to enroll in at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these choices, the only degree that is offered that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees focus on either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or preparing them to progress to the doctoral level. Following are short summaries of degree levels that are available to prospective students in the Gold Canyon AZ area:
- Associate Degrees educate students to practice as 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 be accepted for enrollment. The degrees are typically provided by junior or community colleges, and require two years to complete. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is typically part of the curriculum.
- Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapy education to prep candidates to move up to the doctoral level. Although they are not required to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an important first step to practicing as a PT. As with most bachelor's degrees, they generally take 4 years to complete and often include an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
- Doctorate Degrees are mandated in order 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 7 years in the majority of cases. Clinical or practical training is an intregal element in addition to the extensive lab and classroom instruction. Consequently the completion of an internship is mandated, not only for graduation but in several states for licensing as well.
The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) has taken the place of the Master's of Physical Therapy (MPT), which has been phased out and is no longer offered 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 mandate for a doctorate was instituted.
Physical Therapy Colleges Online
While not as common as the on campus options, there are a number of accredited online physical therapist degrees offered, even more at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on structure of the training, clinical lab work and internships are integrated with the online classes. This requires that the student live close to the college campus or nearby a sponsored internship. Fortunately, the online portion of the course of study can be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Gold Canyon AZ home. Online programs are not only partially more accessible, but in many cases more affordable. Tuition might be somewhat lower than similar on-campus alternatives, and expenditures for commuting are minimized. And a number of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These benefits may make the online alternative the right choice for those students that are motivated enough to attend classes at home.
What to Ask Physical Therapy Schools
At this point you probably have made a decision concerning a few of your initial questions, including the type of physical therapy degree you want to obtain, 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 Gold Canyon AZ area and throughout Arizona, you'll have to research other qualifications also so as to further reduce your list of school options. Also, you need to be sure that you pick the school that is right for you. That's the reason we have compiled a list of critical questions that you need to ask the physical therapist programs you are considering. Ask all of the competing colleges these questions before making an ultimate selection.
Is the Physical Therapy Program Accredited? Find out if the programs 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 program, it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's essential that both the physical therapy program and school you choose are accredited, not simply the school. Additionally, verify that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. In addition to ensuring that you receive an excellent education, accreditation might be mandated for state licensing as well as for securing student loans or financial aid.
What is the College's Ranking? 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 school's reputation, beginning with requesting references from employers that they refer their students to. You can also search for online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. Get in touch with some Gold Canyon AZ physical therapist clinics or other healthcare facilities that you may be interested in working for and ask if they can offer any insight about your school options. It might 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 colleges.
What is the School's Job Placement Rate? There are a couple of significant statistics that you need to find out about each of the physical therapy colleges you are reviewing. One is their graduation rate. A low rate might indicate that students dropped out because of displeasure with the program, the teachers, or both. After the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being hired with the assistance of the college'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 even excellent. It also verifies that the college has a large network of contacts to assist students get internships or employment after graduation.
Does the School Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the college you select provides both superior training and a curriculum that satisfies 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 therapy school. While licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PT and PTA graduates, a number of states require a minimum number of clinical hours be performed as well as passing scores on additional tests.
Are Internships Sponsored? Inquire if the physical therapist colleges you are evaluating have associations with Gold Canyon AZ hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific way to obtain hands on experience in a clinical setting, they are also a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they may help graduates and students develop professional relationships in the Gold Canyon healthcare community and assist with job placement after licensing.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of student that likes to sit far in the rear of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will probably want a small class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapy colleges you are looking at what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you an opportunity to converse with some of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapist program also.
Where is the School Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapist school they decide on will have to be within travelling distance of their Gold Canyon AZ home. Those who have opted to attend classes online naturally will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. Something to consider is that if you choose to enroll in a program that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges typically 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 schools offer some type of financial support to their potential students. Inquire if the colleges you are reviewing have a financial assistance office and find out what kind of aid is obtainable. They at least should help in acquiring a student loan or any grants you may qualify for. A number of physical therapy schools offer scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before you eliminate a program because the tuition is beyond your budget, find out what financial aid may be available.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must confirm that the physical therapy college you ultimately select can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you decide 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 available. If you can only attend part-time, verify 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 as a result of illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Gold Canyon Physical Therapist School
Choosing the right physical therapy program is an important initial decision you have to make to launch a fulfilling career in the health care field. As we have covered in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and college you select should both have exceptional reputations and be accredited. But there are other important questions that you need to ask pertaining to your school of choice also. As you commence your search for a physical therapist school bear in mind that many variables will lead you to your final decision. You may decide to visit different colleges to view their facilities and speak with active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this program help me realize my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By following our list of supplemental questions, you will be able to narrow down the options so you can make the best selection. And with the proper training and education, you can accomplish your dream of becoming a practicing physical therapist in Gold Canyon Arizona.