How to Find the Right Physical Therapist Program Near Golden Valley Arizona
Receiving a physical therapy degree near Golden Valley AZ is an important first step to beginning a rewarding career in the health care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been disabled as a result of injury or illness gain back mobility and function. But before they may legally practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they must get the proper education and training. A PT must also be licensed in all states, many requiring that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So before choosing a physical therapy school, it's important to evaluate the ones you are thinking about to make certain they will supply a quality education and comply with your state's licensing criteria. What you should not do is select a college just because it happens to be the closest to your residence or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other significant qualifications that must be evaluated besides location and cost. But before we discuss 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 is a Physical Therapist's Job Description?
Physical therapists work in varying settings, such as Golden Valley AZ private practices, hospitals, 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 touched on, physical therapists help patients that are suffering from a lack of mobility and frequently pain caused by injury or illness. After patient diagnosis, they design a program of treatment to resolve the mobility problems and reduce or eradicate any pain. They also endeavor to stop any progression of the disability. Although the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are numerous, they include:
- Arthritis or Osteoporosis
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Head injuries
- Heart attacks
- Sports injuries
- Fire injuries
- Knee Replacement
- Multiple Sclerosis
Licensed physical therapists work in close partnerships with other Golden Valley AZ medical specialists, including doctors, chiropractors, dentists and nurses. They can also manage several physical therapy assistants who work under them in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. Something to take note of for anyone considering 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 prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapy Degree Options
There are three physical therapist degrees available for students to enroll in at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these alternatives, the single 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 prepping them to advance to the doctoral level. Following are short descriptions of degree levels that are available to prospective students in the Golden Valley AZ area:
- Associate Degrees educate students to become physical therapy assistants, or may be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Applicants must have obtained a high school diploma or equivalent to be accepted for enrollment. The programs are usually made available by community colleges, and require two years to complete. An internship or other form of clinical training is typically part of the program.
- Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapist training to prep students to advance to the doctoral level. Although they are not required to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an integral preliminary step to becoming a PT. Similar to the majority of bachelor's degrees, they typically require 4 years to complete and commonly incorporate an internship program of at least 500 hours.
- Doctorate Degrees are required 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). In addition to the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes three years to finish, making the overall commitment seven years in the majority of cases. Clinical training is an important component along with the considerable classroom and lab instruction. Consequently the completion of an internship is mandated, not solely for graduation but in some states for licensing also.
The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) has taken the place of the Master's of Physical Therapy (MPT), which has been eliminated and is no longer attainable in the USA. Some practicing 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 Therapist Online Degrees
Although not as prevalent as the more traditional alternatives, there are a number of accredited online physical therapist 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 school campus or in proximity of a sponsored internship. However, the online part of the program may be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Golden Valley AZ residence. Online programs are not only to some extent more accessible, but in a number of instances more economical. Tuition might be somewhat lower than comparable on-campus alternatives, and costs for commuting are reduced. And many 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.
Subjects to Ask Physical Therapist Schools
At this point you undoubtedly have come to decision concerning some of your initial queries, like the kind of physical therapy degree you want to obtain, where you want to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to invest in your education. But considering there are numerous PT colleges within the Golden Valley AZ area and throughout Arizona, you'll need to explore additional qualifications also so as to further reduce your list of college options. Furthermore, you want to be sure that you enroll in the college that is best for you. That's the reason we have put together a list of critical questions that you must ask the physical therapist schools you are reviewing. Ask each of the competing colleges these questions prior to making an ultimate decision.
Is the Physical Therapy Program Accredited? Find out if the schools you are looking at have earned accreditation from a national or a regional organization. As previously stated, if you are pursuing a doctorate 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 earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapy 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 organization. In addition to ensuring that you receive an excellent education, accreditation might be required for state licensing as well as for getting student loans or financial assistance.
What is the College's Standing? In addition to accreditation, it's essential that the college and program you choose have outstanding reputations within the physical therapy community. There are a number of ways you can research a PT program's reputation, beginning with asking for 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. Contact several Golden Valley AZ physical therapist centers or other health care facilities that you may be interested in working for and ask if they can give you any insight about your college selections. It may also be a good idea to check with the Arizona Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been submitted against the schools.
What is the College's Job Placement Rate? There are a two important statistics that you should find out about all of the physical therapist colleges you are reviewing. First is their graduation rate. A lower rate may indicate that students left due to displeasure with the program, the teachers, or both. Once the students have graduated, how many of them are being placed in jobs with the assistance of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Golden Valley AZ area? If a school has a high job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the medical care field is good or even outstanding. It also affirms that the program has a wide network of contacts to help students obtain internships or jobs upon graduation.
Does the Program Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the college you select furnishes both excellent training and a course of study that supports the licensing criteria for Arizona or the state where you will be practicing. In each state a passing score is needed on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) in addition to a degree from an accredited physical therapist school. Although licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PT and PTA graduates, many states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be performed and passing scores on supplemental tests.
Are Internship Programs Sponsored? Ask if the physical therapy schools you are interested in have relationships with Golden Valley AZ clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a great manner to obtain practical training in a clinical setting, they are also a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they can assist graduates and students form professional relationships in the Golden Valley medical community and help with obtaining employment after licensing.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of person that prefers to sit far in the rear of class or hide in the crowd, you will likely prefer a smaller class size. Smaller classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapist schools you are researching what the typical student to teacher 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 a few of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the physical therapist program also.
Where is the School Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapy college they pick will need to be within travelling distance of their Golden Valley AZ residence. Individuals who have chosen 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 bear in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a school that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you may need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges often charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges commonly charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.
Is Financial Support Provided? The majority of DPT colleges provide some form of financial aid to their potential students. Ask if the colleges you are looking at have a financial assistance department and find out what type of assistance is obtainable. They at least should help in obtaining a student loan or any grants you might be eligible for. Some physical therapist schools offer scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before you eliminate a school because the tuition is beyond your budget, ask what financial aid might be available.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to confirm that the physical therapist school you finally pick can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you choose to continue working while you attend classes. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Golden Valley AZ area, verify that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, find out if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would need to enroll in. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Best Golden Valley Physical Therapy School
Picking the best physical therapist college is a necessary initial decision you need to make to start a rewarding career in the medical field. As we have addressed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and college you select should both have exceptional reputations and accreditation. But there are other critical questions that you need to ask concerning your college of choice also. As you start your search for a physical therapy school keep in mind that many variables will guide you toward your final decision. You may want to visit each of the schools to view their facilities and speak to active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this school help me achieve my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By adhering to our list of additional questions, you will be able to narrow down the options so you can make the appropriate selection. And with the proper training and education, you can achieve your dream to become a licensed physical therapist in Golden Valley Arizona.