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How to Pick the Right Physical Therapist Program Near Goodyear Arizona

Goodyear Arizona physical therapist working with female patient using balance ballReceiving a physical therapy degree near Goodyear AZ is an important first step to launching a rewarding career in the health care field. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been debilitated due to injury or illness regain mobility and function. But before they may legally practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they must receive the proper education and training. A PT must additionally be licensed in all states, many requiring that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So before choosing a physical therapy school, it's important to evaluate those you are thinking about to ensure they will deliver a superior education and comply with your state's licensing requirements. What you do not want to do is select a college simply because it happens to be the closest to your residence or it has the lowest tuition. There are other significant qualifications that must be considered in addition to location and cost. But before we cover what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, we'll cover what a physical therapist does and what the educational options are.

What is a Physical Therapist?

Goodyear Arizona DPT helping female patient to walk

Physical therapists practice in a variety of locations, such as Goodyear AZ hospitals, health clinics, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and sports facilities. What the facilities all share in common is that they have the equipment for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As previously stated, physical therapists help individuals that are suffering from a lack of mobility and frequently pain due to injury or illness. After diagnosing a patient, they develop a course of treatment to deal with the mobility problems and reduce or eliminate any pain. They also endeavor 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
  • Strokes
  • Heart attacks
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Burn injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists work in close affiliation with other Goodyear AZ health specialists, including doctors, chiropractors, registered nurses and dentists. They can also oversee several physical therapy assistants who work for them in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. Something to take note of for anyone thinking about entering the physical therapy field, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift patients and heavy equipment, and stand, crouch and kneel for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degrees Available

Goodyear Arizona physical therapist working with man in pool

There are three physical therapy degrees available for individuals to pursue at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these choices, the single degree that is offered that qualifies the graduate to practice as 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. Below are short summaries of degrees that are offered to prospective students in the Goodyear 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 obtained a high school diploma or equivalent to be accepted for enrollment. The degrees are typically offered by junior or community colleges, and take about two years for completion. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is usually a portion of the curriculum.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapist education to prepare candidates to move up to the doctoral level. Although they are not required to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an integral initial step to practicing as a PT. As with the majority of bachelor's degrees, they normally require 4 years to complete and commonly include an internship program of at least 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are required in order to become a practicing licensed 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 3 years to finish, making the total investment of time 7 years in the majority of cases. Clinical training is an essential element in addition to the extensive lab and classroom instruction. Consequently the fulfillment of an internship is required, 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 phased out and is no longer offered in the USA. Some licensed physical therapists having a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the current licensing mandate for a doctorate was instituted.

Physical Therapist Online Schools

Goodyear Arizona female student taking physical therapy classes onlineAlthough not as prevalent as the more traditional options, there are a number of accredited online physical therapy degrees offered, more so at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on nature of the training, internships and clinical lab work are integrated with the online classes. This requires that the student live close to the school campus or in proximity of an available internship. Fortunately, the online segment of the course of study can be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Goodyear AZ residence. Online schools are not only to some extent more accessible, but in a number of instances more affordable. Tuition might be significantly less than similar on-campus options, and expenses for commuting are minimized. And many of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These benefits can make the online option the right choice for those students that are motivated enough to learn at home.

Subjects to Ask Physical Therapist Colleges

By now you undoubtedly have come to decision regarding several of your initial queries, such as the type of physical therapist degree you intend to earn, where you want to attend classes, and how much you can afford to invest in your education. But considering there are so many PT schools within the Goodyear AZ area and throughout Arizona, you'll have to look into additional qualifications also in order to further reduce your list of college options. Furthermore, you want to be sure that you choose the program that is ideal for you. That's why we have put together a list of essential questions that you need to ask the physical therapy colleges you are considering. Ask each of the potential schools these questions prior to making an ultimate selection.

Is the Physical Therapist Program Accredited?  Find out if the schools you are looking at have received accreditation from a national or a regional agency. As earlier 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 select an online program, it may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's essential that both the physical therapy program and school you select are accredited, not just the school. Additionally, check that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Along with guaranteeing that you receive a quality education, accreditation may be required for state licensing and even for getting student loans or financial aid.

What is the School's Standing? In addition to accreditation, it's essential that the college and program you pick have exceptional reputations within the physical therapist profession. There are several ways you can investigate a PT school's reputation, starting with requesting references from employers that they place their graduates with. You can also search for online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. Get in touch with a few Goodyear AZ physical therapy clinics or other medical care facilities that you might be interested in working for and ask if they can give you any recommendations about your college options. It might also be a good idea to contact the Arizona Attorney General and school licensing authority to see 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 need to find out about each of the physical therapy programs you are looking at. First is their graduation rate. A low rate may mean that students left because of dissatisfaction with the program, the instructors, 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 Goodyear AZ area? If a school has a higher job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the medical care field is good or perhaps exceptional. It also verifies that the program has a large network of contacts to help students get internships or employment upon graduation.

Does the Program Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the school you enroll in provides both superior training and a course of study that supports the licensing requirements for Arizona or the state where you will be working. In each state a passing score is required on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapist college. Although licensing requirements vary state by state for PTA and PT graduates, some states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be completed and passing scores on additional exams.

Are Internship Programs Provided? Find out if the physical therapist schools you are assessing have associations with Goodyear AZ clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific means to obtain hands on 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 graduates and students develop professional relationships in the Goodyear health care community and assist with job placement once licensed.

How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of person that likes to sit way in the rear of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a smaller class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapy schools you are reviewing what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you a chance to talk with some of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the physical therapy program as well.

Where is the Program Located? For many students, the physical therapist college they choose will need to be within commuting distance of their Goodyear AZ home. Students who have decided to attend classes online naturally will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. Something to keep in mind is that if you choose 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 generally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges typically charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Assistance Provided? Most DPT schools supply some type of financial aid to their prospective students. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have a financial aid office and see what type of help is available. They at least should help in acquiring a student loan or any grants you may qualify for. Some physical therapy colleges provide scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before you eliminate a program because the tuition is beyond your budget, find out what financial aid might be available.

Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to confirm that the physical therapy college you ultimately choose can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you opt to continue working while you attend school. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Goodyear AZ area, verify 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 enroll in. Also, learn what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss due to illness, work or family obligations.

Find Out More About Goodyear Online Physical Therapy Degrees

Choose the Right Goodyear Physical Therapy School

Choosing the ideal physical therapy program is an important initial decision you need to make to start a rewarding career in the health care profession. As we have discussed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and college you decide on should both have exceptional reputations and be accredited. But there are additional relevant questions that you should ask regarding your college of choice as well. As you start your search for a physical therapist college bear in mind that many variables will guide you toward your final decision. You may want to go to each of the schools to view their facilities and speak to active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this school help me reach my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By following our list of additional questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the options so you can make the ideal choice. And with the necessary education and training, you can fulfill your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in Goodyear Arizona.


 

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