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How to Choose the Right Physical Therapist Degree Program Near Goodyear Arizona

Goodyear Arizona physical therapist working with woman holding balance ballReceiving a physical therapist degree near Goodyear AZ is an important first step to beginning a fulfilling career in the medical care field. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been incapacitated due to injury or illness gain back function and mobility. But before they can practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they need to receive the proper training and education. A PT must also be licensed in every state, many mandating that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So before enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's important to research those you are looking at to make certain they will provide a quality education and satisfy your state's licensing requirements. What you do not want to do is choose a school just because it happens to be the nearest to your home or it has cheapest tuition. There are other important qualifications that need to be considered besides cost and location. But before we discuss what those qualifications are and the questions you should be asking, we'll cover what a physical therapist does and what the educational options are.

What Does a Physical Therapist Do?

Goodyear Arizona physical therapist assisting female patient to walk

Physical therapists practice in varying settings, such as Goodyear AZ hospitals, health clinics, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and health clubs. What the facilities all have in common is that they have the equipment for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As earlier mentioned, physical therapists help individuals that are struggling with a lack of mobility and frequently pain due to injury or illness. After diagnosing a patient, they design a program of treatment to deal with the mobility issues and lessen or eliminate any pain. They also endeavor to prevent any progression of the disability. While the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are abundant, 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 practice in close partnerships with other Goodyear AZ medical specialists, including doctors, chiropractors, dentists and nurses. They can also supervise one or more physical therapy assistants who work under them in diagnosing and treating their patients. One thing to take note of for anyone thinking about going into the physical therapy field, it is rather 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 Therapist Degrees Offered

Goodyear Arizona DPT working with patient in pool

There are 3 physical therapist degree options offered for students to pursue at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these options, the one degree that is available that qualifies the graduate to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees target either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or readying them to progress to the doctoral level. Following are brief summaries of degree levels that are available to prospective students in the Goodyear AZ area:

  • Associate Degrees educate students to be physical therapy assistants, or may be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Applicants must have a high school diploma or GED to be accepted for enrollment. The programs are typically provided by community or junior colleges, and take about 2 years to complete. An internship or other form of clinical training is usually a component of the program.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapy training to prepare candidates to advance to the doctoral level. While they are not a requirement to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an essential initial step to becoming a PT. Similar to the majority of bachelor's degrees, they generally require four years to complete and commonly incorporate an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are a requirement if you want 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 total commitment seven years in most cases. Clinical or practical training is an important element along with the substantial classroom and lab instruction. Consequently the completion of an internship is mandated, not just for graduation but in a number of 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. A number of licensed physical therapists having a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the existing licensing requirement for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapist Online Programs

Goodyear Arizona female student taking physical therapist classes onlineWhile not as prevalent as the more traditional options, there are a number of 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 integrated with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live close to the college 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 Goodyear AZ home. Online schools are not only partially more accessible, but in a number of instances more economical. Tuition might be significantly lower than comparable on-campus options, and expenses for commuting are reduced. And a number of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These benefits can make the online option the right choice for those students that are disciplined enough to attend classes at home.

What to Ask Physical Therapy Programs

At this point you undoubtedly have made a decision regarding some of your preliminary questions, such as the type of physical therapy degree you would like to earn, where you want to attend classes, and how much you can afford to invest in your education. But since there are so many PT schools within the Goodyear AZ area and throughout Arizona, you'll have to explore additional qualifications as well in order to further reduce your list of school options. Moreover, you need to make certain that you choose the program that is right for you. That's why we have collected a list of important questions that you must ask the physical therapist schools you are reviewing. Ask all of the potential colleges these questions prior to making an ultimate selection.

Is the Physical Therapy Program Accredited?  Ask if the programs you are reviewing have earned accreditation from a regional or a national agency. As earlier stated, if you are pursuing a doctorate the program must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). If you select an online college, it can also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapist school and program you enroll in are accredited, not just the school. Additionally, verify that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. In addition to guaranteeing that you receive a quality education, accreditation might be required for state licensing and even for getting student loans or financial assistance.

What is the Program's Reputation? In addition to accreditation, it's essential that the college and program you choose have outstanding reputations within the physical therapy profession. There are a number of ways you can look into a PT program's reputation, beginning 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. Contact a few Goodyear AZ physical therapist centers or other healthcare facilities that you might have an interest in working for and ask if they can provide any advice about your program options. 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 schools.

What is the College's Job Placement Percentage? There are a two significant statistics that you should 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 dropped out because of dissatisfaction with the program, the instructors, or both. After the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being placed in jobs with the help of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Goodyear AZ area? If a college has a higher job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the medical care community is good or even excellent. It also affirms that the school has a broad network of contacts to assist students obtain internships or jobs upon graduation.

Does the Program Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the college you choose furnishes both exceptional training and a curriculum that supports the licensing criteria 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 school. While licensing requirements differ state by state for PTA and PT graduates, some states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be performed as well as passing scores on additional tests.

Are Internships Offered? Find out if the physical therapist colleges you are evaluating have associations with Goodyear AZ hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships a great means to receive hands on experience in a clinical environment, they are also a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they can help graduates and students form professional connections in the Goodyear healthcare community and help with obtaining employment after licensing.

How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of person that prefers to sit way in the rear of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a small class size. Small classes permit more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapist colleges you are researching what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you an opportunity to converse with a few of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapist program as well.

Where is the Program Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapist college they select will have to be within commuting distance of their Goodyear AZ residence. Individuals who have decided 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 concern. One thing to consider is that if you choose to enroll in a college that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges normally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges typically charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Help Offered? The majority of DPT schools provide some type of financial support to their potential students. Find out if the colleges you are examining have a financial assistance department and see what type of help is offered. At a minimum they should help in acquiring a student loan or any grants you may be eligible for. A number of physical therapist schools offer scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before eliminating a college because the tuition is beyond your budget, learn what financial assistance might be available.

Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to verify that the physical therapy school you finally pick can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you decide to continue working while attending school. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Goodyear AZ area, verify that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, verify 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 due to illness, work or family obligations.

Learn More About Goodyear Online Physical Therapy Majors

Choose the Best Goodyear Physical Therapist School

Picking the ideal physical therapy program is an important first decision you must 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 school you pick should both have exceptional reputations and accreditation. But there are additional critical questions that you need to ask regarding your college of choice also. As you begin your search for a physical therapy school keep in mind that many variables will lead you to your final decision. You might want to visit different campuses to view their facilities and speak with current 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 options so you can make the ideal selection. And with the necessary education and training, you can fulfill your dream of becoming a practicing physical therapist in Goodyear Arizona.


 

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