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How to Select the Right Physical Therapist Training Program Near Golden Valley Arizona

Golden Valley Arizona physical therapist working with female patient holding exercise ballEarning a physical therapist degree near Golden Valley AZ is an essential first step to launching a rewarding career in the healthcare field. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been disabled due to injury or illness regain function and mobility. But before they may legally practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they need to acquire the proper education and training. A PT must also become licensed in every state, a large number mandating that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So prior to enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's essential to investigate the ones you are thinking about to make certain they will furnish a superior education and meet your state's licensing criteria. What you do not want to do is choose a school simply because it happens to be the nearest to your home or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other significant qualifications that need to be evaluated in addition to cost and location. But before we talk about 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 is a Physical Therapist's Job Description?

Golden Valley Arizona DPT assisting woman to walk

Physical therapists practice in varying locations, such as Golden Valley AZ hospitals, health clinics, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and sports facilities. What the facilities all have in common is that they have the equipment for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As earlier mentioned, physical therapists help patients that are experiencing a lack of mobility and frequently pain caused by illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they develop a course of treatment to deal with the mobility issues and reduce or eradicate any pain. They also endeavor to prevent any progression of the disability. Though the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Strokes
  • Heart attacks
  • Sports injuries
  • Fire injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists work in close affiliation with other Golden Valley AZ medical professionals, including chiropractors, physicians, registered nurses and dentists. They can also manage several physical therapy assistants who work for them in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. Something to keep in mind for anyone thinking about entering the physical therapy profession, 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 Therapist Degree Options

Golden Valley Arizona DPT working with patient in pool

There are 3 physical therapist degrees offered for individuals to pursue at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these alternatives, the only degree that is offered that qualifies the graduate to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees focus on either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or readying them to advance to the doctoral level. Following are brief descriptions of degree levels that are offered to prospective students in the Golden Valley AZ area:

  • Associate Degrees prepare students to practice as physical therapy assistants, or can be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Applicants must have obtained a high school diploma or GED to be accepted for enrollment. The degrees are usually offered by community colleges, and require 2 years for completion. An internship or other form of clinical training is usually a component of the course of study.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapy education to prep students to progress to the doctoral level. Although they are not required to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an integral preliminary step to practicing as a PT. As with the majority of bachelor's degrees, they typically take four years to finish and usually incorporate an internship program of at least 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are a requirement 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). After earning the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes three years to finish, making the overall commitment 7 years in most cases. Clinical or practical training is an essential element along with the considerable classroom and lab instruction. Consequently the fulfillment of an internship is mandated, not only for graduation but in some states for licensing as well.

The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) has replaced 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 implemented.

Physical Therapist Colleges Online

Golden Valley Arizona woman taking physical therapy courses onlineWhile not as prevalent as the on-campus options, there are a number of accredited online physical therapist programs offered, even more at the graduate level. Due to 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 college campus or nearby an available internship. Fortunately, the online portion of the course of study may be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Golden Valley AZ home. Online schools are not only partially more accessible, but in many cases more affordable. Tuition can be somewhat less than similar on-campus alternatives, and expenditures for commuting are reduced. And a number of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These benefits can make the online option the ideal choice for those students that are motivated enough to learn at home.

Topics to Ask Physical Therapy Colleges

By now you most likely have made a decision regarding some of your preliminary queries, such as the kind 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 so many PT schools within the Golden Valley AZ area and throughout Arizona, you'll have to research other qualifications also so as to further reduce your list of school choices. Moreover, you need to make sure that you choose the program that is right for you. That's the reason we have collected a list of essential questions that you need to ask the physical therapy programs you are considering. Ask all of the potential schools these questions before making a final selection.

Is the Physical Therapist College Accredited?  Find out if the schools you are considering have earned accreditation from a national or a regional agency. As previously 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 earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapist program and school you enroll in are accredited, not just the school. Also, verify that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Along with ensuring that you obtain a quality education, accreditation might be mandated for state licensing as well as for securing student loans or financial aid.

What is the College's Ranking? Along with accreditation, it's essential that the school and program you pick have outstanding reputations within the physical therapy community. There are several ways you can investigate a PT program's reputation, starting with asking for references from employers that they refer their students to. You may also check online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. Call several Golden Valley AZ physical therapy centers or other medical care facilities that you might have an interest in working for and ask if they can offer any advice about your school selections. It may also be prudent to contact the Arizona Attorney General and school licensing authority to find out if any complaints have been filed against the colleges.

What is the School's Job Placement Percentage? There are a couple of significant statistics that you need to know about each of the physical therapist programs you are looking at. First is their graduation rate. A lower rate might mean that students dropped out due to dissatisfaction with the program, the instructors, or both. Once the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being hired 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's an indication that its reputation within the healthcare field is good or perhaps outstanding. It also verifies that the college has a large network of contacts to assist students gain internships or employment after graduation.

Does the School Support Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the college you choose provides both excellent training and a curriculum that supports the licensing criteria 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) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapy college. Although licensing requirements differ state by state for PTA and PT graduates, a number of states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be performed as well as passing scores on supplemental exams.

Are Internships Provided? Find out if the physical therapist schools you are reviewing have associations with Golden Valley AZ clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific means to receive hands on experience in a clinical setting, they are additionally a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they can help students and graduates develop professional connections in the Golden Valley health care community and help with obtaining employment after licensing.

How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of person that likes to sit far in the rear of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will probably prefer a small class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapist schools you are looking at what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you an opportunity to converse with a few of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapist program also.

Where is the Program Located? For a number of students, the physical therapist college they pick will have to be within commuting distance of their Golden Valley AZ home. Individuals who have decided to attend online classes obviously will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. One thing to keep in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a college that is out of state or even 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 often charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.

Is Financial Aid Offered? Most DPT schools provide some form of financial support to their prospective students. Find out if the colleges you are reviewing have a financial assistance department and see what kind of aid is offered. At a minimum they should help in getting a student loan or any grants you might be eligible for. Some physical therapy colleges provide scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before eliminating a college because the tuition is beyond your budget, ask what financial aid might be available.

Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to verify that the physical therapist school you finally choose can provide the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you choose to continue working while you attend school. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Golden Valley AZ area, check that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, find out if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would have to carry. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss due to work, illness or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Golden Valley Online Physical Therapist Courses

Choose the Right Golden Valley Physical Therapy School

Picking the ideal physical therapy school is a necessary initial decision you need to make to begin a rewarding career in the healthcare field. As we have discussed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and school you enroll in should both have excellent reputations and be accredited. However there are additional important questions that you need to ask concerning your college of choice also. As you begin your search for a physical therapist college keep in mind that a number of variables will guide you toward your ultimate decision. You may decide to visit different campuses to view their facilities and speak with active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical 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 field so you can make the right selection. And with the necessary training and education, you can accomplish your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in Golden Valley Arizona.


 

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