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How to Find the Right Physical Therapy School Near Gold Canyon Arizona

Gold Canyon Arizona physical therapist working with woman using balance ballGetting a physical therapist degree near Gold Canyon AZ is an essential first step to beginning a rewarding career in the health care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been debilitated as a result of injury or illness regain mobility and function. But before they can practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they need to acquire the proper education and training. A PT must also be licensed in every state, a large number requiring that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So before enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's essential to investigate the ones you are thinking about to ensure they will furnish a superior education and meet your state's licensing criteria. What you do not want to do is enroll in a school just because it happens to be the nearest to your home or it has the lowest tuition. There are other important qualifications that need to be considered along with location and cost. But before we cover what those qualifications are and the questions you should be asking, we'll cover what a physical therapist does and the options for education.

What Does a Physical Therapist Do?

Gold Canyon Arizona DPT assisting female patient to walk

Physical therapists work in diverse locations, including Gold Canyon AZ hospitals, health clinics, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and health clubs. What the facilities all have in common is that they have the equipment for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As previously mentioned, physical therapists help people that are struggling with a lack of mobility and often pain caused by injury or illness. After patient diagnosis, they develop a program of treatment to deal with the mobility issues and lessen or eradicate any pain. They also try to stop any progression of the disability. Although the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are abundant, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Car or motor cycle accidents
  • Strokes
  • Heart attacks
  • Sports injuries
  • Fire injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Cerebral Palsy

Licensed physical therapists work in close partnerships with other Gold Canyon AZ health specialists, including chiropractors, physicians, dentists and nurses. They can also manage one or more physical therapy assistants who work under them in diagnosing and treating their patients. One thing to keep in mind for anyone considering getting into the physical therapy profession, 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 Degree Options

Gold Canyon Arizona physical therapist working with man in pool

There are 3 physical therapy degrees available for students to pursue at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these options, the single degree that is offered that qualifies the graduate to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees concentrate on either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or readying them to advance to the doctoral level. Following are brief summaries of degree levels that are offered to prospective students in the Gold Canyon 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 earned a high school diploma or equivalent to qualify for enrollment. The degrees are usually provided by community or junior colleges, and require 2 years to complete. An internship or other form of clinical training is typically a component of the course of study.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapy education to prepare candidates to progress to the doctoral level. Although they are not required to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an essential initial step to practicing as a PT. As with most bachelor's degrees, they generally require 4 years to complete and usually include an internship program of at least 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are mandated if you want to become a licensed practicing 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 three years to finish, making the total commitment 7 years in most cases. Practical or clinical training is an essential element in addition to the extensive classroom and lab instruction. Consequently the fulfillment of an internship is mandated, 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 eliminated 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 before the existing licensing mandate for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapist Online Schools

Gold Canyon Arizona female student taking physical therapist training onlineWhile not as common as the more traditional options, there are many accredited online physical therapy degrees offered, more so 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 near the school campus or nearby an available internship. Fortunately, the online part of the curriculum can be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Gold Canyon AZ residence. Online programs are not only partially more accessible, but in a number of cases more economical. Tuition can be significantly lower than comparable on campus alternatives, and expenditures for commuting are reduced. And many of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These benefits can make the online option the best choice for those students that are dedicated enough to learn at home.

Questions to Ask Physical Therapy Programs

At this point you undoubtedly have made a decision concerning some of your initial queries, such as the kind of physical therapy 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 since there are so many PT schools within the Gold Canyon AZ area and throughout Arizona, you'll have to look into additional qualifications also so as to further reduce your list of school options. Furthermore, you want to be sure that you enroll in the program that is best for you. That's the reason we have compiled a list of essential questions that you need to ask the physical therapist schools you are thinking about. Ask each of the competing schools these questions before making a final selection.

Is the Physical Therapist Program Accredited?  Ask if the colleges 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 choose an online college, it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's essential that both the physical therapy school and program you enroll in are accredited, not simply the school. Also, verify 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 mandated for state licensing and even for getting student loans or financial assistance.

What is the Program's Reputation? Along with accreditation, it's essential that the school and program you select have outstanding reputations within the physical therapist profession. There are a number of ways you can investigate a PT school's reputation, starting with requesting references from employers that they refer their students to. You can also check online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. Get in touch with a few Gold Canyon AZ physical therapy clinics or other health care facilities that you might 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 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 Rate? There are a two important statistics that you should find out about all of the physical therapy programs you are considering. One is their graduation rate. A low rate may suggest that students left because of dissatisfaction with the program, the teachers, or both. After the students have graduated, how many of them are being placed in jobs with the support of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Gold Canyon AZ area? If a school has a higher job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the healthcare field is good or perhaps outstanding. It also verifies that the school has a broad network of contacts to assist students get internships or employment upon graduation.

Does the School Support Licensing Requirements? It's important that the school you enroll in furnishes both exceptional training and a curriculum that supports the licensing requirements 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) as well as a degree from an accredited physical therapy program. Although licensing requirements vary state by state for PT and PTA graduates, many states require a minimum number of clinical hours be completed and passing scores on supplemental tests.

Are Internships Offered? Inquire if the physical therapist programs you are reviewing have partnerships with Gold Canyon AZ hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific means to receive practical experience in a clinical setting, they are also a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they may help students and graduates develop professional relationships in the Gold Canyon health care community and help with job placement after licensing.

How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of person that prefers to sit way in the rear of class or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a smaller class size. Small classes permit more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapy schools you are considering what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you a chance to speak with several of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapist program also.

Where is the School Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapy school they select will have to be within driving distance of their Gold Canyon AZ residence. Students who have opted 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 concern. One thing 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 need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges generally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges usually charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Aid Provided? The majority of DPT schools offer some type of financial assistance to their potential students. Ask if the schools you are looking at have a financial aid department and see what kind of help is offered. They at least should help in obtaining a student loan or any grants you might be eligible for. A number of physical therapist colleges offer scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before eliminating a college because the tuition is too expensive, ask what financial assistance might be available.

Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to confirm that the physical therapy school you ultimately choose can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you decide to continue working while attending school. 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 option and how many courses or credit hours you would have to carry. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss due to work, illness or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Gold Canyon Physical Therapist Degrees

Choose the Best Gold Canyon Physical Therapist School

Choosing the best physical therapy college is an important first decision you must make to begin a gratifying career in the health care profession. As we have addressed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and school you decide on should both have outstanding reputations and accreditation. However there are additional critical questions that you need to ask pertaining to your college of choice as well. As you commence your search for a physical therapy school keep in mind that many factors will lead you toward your ultimate decision. You might want to visit each of the schools to see their facilities and speak with active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this college help me accomplish my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By following our list of supplemental questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the options so you can make the appropriate choice. And with the proper education and training, you can accomplish your dream of becoming a licensed physical therapist in Gold Canyon Arizona.


 

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