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How to Enroll In the Right Physical Therapy School Near Golden Valley Arizona

Golden Valley Arizona physical therapist working with female patient using exercise ballObtaining a physical therapist degree near Golden Valley AZ is a critical first step to starting a rewarding career in the healthcare field. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been incapacitated as a result of injury or illness regain mobility and function. But before they can practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they must get the proper training and education. A PT must also be licensed in every state, many requiring that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So prior to choosing a physical therapy school, it's necessary to evaluate the ones you are thinking about to make certain they will provide a quality education and comply with your state's licensing standards. What you should not do is choose a school simply because it happens to be the closest to your home or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that need to be considered 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 the options for education.

What is a Physical Therapist?

Golden Valley Arizona physical therapist assisting woman to walk

Physical therapists practice in varying settings, such as Golden Valley AZ hospitals, health clinics, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and health clubs. What the facilities all have in common is that they are equipped for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As earlier stated, physical therapists help patients that are experiencing a lack of mobility and frequently pain caused by illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they create a course of treatment to resolve the mobility issues and lessen or eliminate any pain. They also endeavor to prevent any advancement of the disability. Though the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Car or motor cycle accidents
  • Strokes
  • Heart attacks
  • Sports injuries
  • Burn injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists work in close association with other Golden Valley AZ health professionals, including chiropractors, physicians, registered nurses and dentists. They can also oversee one or more physical therapy assistants who work for them in diagnosing and treating their patients. Something to take note of for anyone thinking about entering the physical therapy profession, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists often lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and stand, crouch and kneel for long periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degree Options

Golden Valley Arizona physical therapist working with patient in pool

There are three physical therapy degrees available for individuals to pursue at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these alternatives, the only degree that is attainable that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees focus on either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or prepping them to progress to the doctoral level. Following are brief explanations of degrees that are offered to prospective students in the Golden Valley AZ area:

  • Associate Degrees prepare students to be physical therapy assistants, or may be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Candidates must have obtained a high school diploma or equivalent to qualify for enrollment. The programs are typically made available by community or junior colleges, and require two years to complete. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is normally a component of the course of study.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapist training to prepare students to move up to the doctoral level. While they are not a requirement to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an essential initial step to becoming a PT. Similar to most bachelor's degrees, they typically require 4 years to complete and usually include an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are required 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). After earning the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes three years to finish, making the overall commitment seven years in most cases. Clinical or practical training is an important element in addition to the considerable lab and classroom 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 offered in the USA. Some practicing physical therapists holding a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the present licensing mandate for a doctorate was instituted.

Physical Therapist Online Schools

Golden Valley Arizona woman taking physical therapy classes onlineAlthough not as prevalent as the on campus alternatives, there are many accredited online physical therapy programs offered, even more at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on structure of the training, clinical lab work and internships are incorporated with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live near the school campus or in proximity of an available internship. Fortunately, the online segment of the course of study may be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Golden Valley AZ home. Online programs are not only partially more accessible, but in a number of instances more affordable. Tuition may be significantly less than comparable on campus options, and expenditures for commuting are minimized. And a number of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These benefits can make the online option the right choice for those students that are dedicated enough to learn at home.

What to Ask Physical Therapist Schools

At this point you most likely have made a decision concerning several of your preliminary questions, including the type of physical therapy degree you want to attain, where you want to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to spend for your education. But because there are numerous PT colleges within the Golden Valley AZ area and across Arizona, you'll need to explore additional qualifications as well in order to further reduce your list of school options. Also, you want to make sure that you choose the program that is best for you. That's the reason we have collected a list of critical questions that you need to ask the physical therapy schools you are thinking about. Ask each of the potential schools these questions prior to making an ultimate selection.

Is the Physical Therapy Program Accredited?  Ask if the schools you are reviewing have earned accreditation from a regional or a national 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 select an online college, it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapist school and program you select are accredited, not just the school. Also, check that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Besides ensuring that you obtain a quality education, accreditation may be required for state licensing and even for getting student loans or financial assistance.

What is the School's Reputation? In addition to accreditation, it's imperative that the school and program you select have excellent reputations within the physical therapist profession. There are a number of ways you can research a PT school's reputation, starting with requesting references from employers that they place their graduates with. You can also check online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. Call a few Golden Valley AZ physical therapy centers or other medical care facilities that you may be interested in working for and ask if they can provide any recommendations about your school selections. It may also be a good idea to check with the Arizona Attorney General and school licensing authority to find out if any complaints have been filed against the schools.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? There are a two useful statistics that you should find out about each of the physical therapy schools you are looking at. One is their graduation rate. A lower rate might mean that students left because of dissatisfaction with the program, the instructors, or both. Once the students have graduated, how many of them are being placed in jobs with the support of the school'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 health care community is good or perhaps outstanding. It also affirms that the program has a broad network of contacts to assist students obtain internships or employment upon graduation.

Does the School Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the school you select furnishes both excellent 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 required on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) in addition to a degree from an accredited physical therapist college. While licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PTA and PT graduates, many states require a minimum number of clinical hours be performed and passing scores on additional exams.

Are Internship Programs Offered? Inquire if the physical therapy schools you are evaluating have relationships with Golden Valley AZ hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only a great way to get hands on training in a clinical setting, they are also a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they can assist students and graduates develop professional connections in the Golden Valley health care community and assist with job placement once licensed.

What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the type of person that likes to sit way in the back of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will probably prefer a small class size. Small classes permit more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapist schools you are researching what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you a chance to speak with a few of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the physical therapy program also.

Where is the Program Located? For many students, the physical therapist school they pick will need to be within travelling distance of their Golden Valley AZ home. Those who have opted to attend classes online obviously will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of importance. One thing to keep in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a school that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges normally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges normally charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.

Is Financial Aid Offered? Most DPT colleges offer some form of financial assistance to their potential students. Inquire if the colleges you are looking at have a financial assistance department and see what type of assistance is available. At a minimum they should help in acquiring a student loan or any grants you might be eligible for. A number of physical therapist colleges offer scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before you eliminate a school because the tuition is beyond your budget, find out what financial aid may be available.

Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to verify that the physical therapist school you finally pick can provide the class schedule you need. This is particularly essential if you decide to continue working while you attend classes. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Golden Valley AZ area, verify that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, verify if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would need to enroll in. Also, learn what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of illness, work or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Golden Valley Online Physical Therapy Programs

Enroll in the Right Golden Valley Physical Therapist School

Choosing the best physical therapy program is a necessary initial decision you must make to launch a fulfilling career in the medical profession. As we have covered in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and college you decide on should both have outstanding reputations and be accredited. But there are additional critical questions that you should ask pertaining to your college of choice as well. As you start your search for a physical therapy college keep in mind that many variables will guide you toward your final decision. You might decide to visit different schools to view their facilities and talk to active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this school help me accomplish my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By adhering to our list of supplemental questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the field so you can make the appropriate selection. And with the necessary education and training, you can accomplish your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in Golden Valley Arizona.


 

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