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How to Pick the Right Physical Therapy Degree Program Near Goodyear Arizona

Goodyear Arizona physical therapist working with female patient using balance ballObtaining a physical therapist 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 as a result of injury or illness regain function and mobility. But before they can practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they need to obtain the appropriate training and education. A PT must also become licensed in every state, a large number requiring that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So before choosing a physical therapy school, it's essential to evaluate those you are looking at to make certain they will supply a superior education and comply with your state's licensing requirements. What you should not do is choose a college just because it happens to be the closest to your residence or it has cheapest tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that must be evaluated besides location and cost. But before we talk about 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 physical therapist assisting 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 have in common is that they are equipped for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As previously mentioned, physical therapists help patients that are struggling with a lack of mobility and in many cases pain caused by injury or illness. After diagnosing a patient, they create a program of treatment to address the mobility problems and lessen or eradicate any pain. They also strive to prevent any advancement of the disability. Although the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are numerous, they include:

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

Licensed physical therapists practice in close partnerships with other Goodyear AZ health specialists, including chiropractors, physicians, dentists and nurses. They can also supervise one or more physical therapy assistants who work for them in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. Something to bear in mind for anyone thinking about entering the physical therapy field, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists routinely lift patients and heavy equipment, and stand, crouch and kneel for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapist Degrees Available

Goodyear Arizona DPT working with man in pool

There are three physical therapist degrees available for individuals to enroll in at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these alternatives, the single degree that is attainable that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees concentrate on either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or preparing them to progress to the doctoral level. Following are short explanations of degrees that are offered to prospective students in the Goodyear AZ area:

  • Associate Degrees train students to become physical therapy assistants, or can be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Candidates must have earned a high school diploma or GED to be accepted for enrollment. The programs are usually offered by community colleges, and take about two years for completion. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is typically a portion of the course of study.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapist training to prepare students to progress to the doctoral level. Although they are not required to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an important initial step to becoming a PT. As with the majority of bachelor's degrees, they normally require four years to complete and commonly incorporate an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are required in order to become a licensed practicing 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 three years to finish, making the overall commitment seven years in the majority of cases. Clinical or practical training is an intregal component in addition to the considerable lab and classroom instruction. Therefor the fulfillment of an internship is required, not solely for graduation but in several states for licensing as well.

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 available in the United States. A number of licensed physical therapists holding a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the current licensing requirement for a doctorate was instituted.

Physical Therapist Colleges Online

Goodyear Arizona female student taking physical therapist courses onlineWhile not as common as the on-campus alternatives, there are a number of accredited online physical therapist degrees offered, more so at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on nature of the training, clinical lab work and internships are combined with the online classes. This requires that the student live close to the school campus or nearby a sponsored internship. However, the online portion of the program may be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Goodyear AZ residence. Online programs are not only partially more accessible, but in a number of instances more economical. Tuition can be somewhat lower than similar on-campus alternatives, and expenditures for commuting are reduced. And many of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These advantages may make the online alternative the ideal choice for those students that are motivated enough to learn at home.

What to Ask Physical Therapist Programs

By now you most likely have made a decision concerning several of your preliminary queries, such as the kind of physical therapist degree you intend to obtain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to spend for your education. But considering there are numerous PT colleges within the Goodyear AZ area and throughout Arizona, you'll need to research additional qualifications also in order to further reduce your list of school choices. Moreover, you need to make certain that you pick the college that is ideal for you. That's why we have compiled a list of critical questions that you must ask the physical therapy colleges you are reviewing. Ask all of the potential schools these questions prior to making an ultimate selection.

Is the Physical Therapist School Accredited?  Ask if the programs you are considering have earned accreditation from a national or a regional organization. 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 enroll in an online college, it can also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapy program and school you enroll in are accredited, not simply the school. Also, check that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Besides guaranteeing that you obtain a quality education, accreditation might be required for state licensing as well as for getting student loans or financial assistance.

What is the School's Standing? In addition to accreditation, it's important that the school and program you choose have excellent reputations within the physical therapist profession. There are multiple ways you can look into a PT school's reputation, starting with requesting references from employers that they refer their students to. You can also check online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. Call some Goodyear AZ physical therapist centers or other medical care facilities that you might have an interest in working for and ask if they can offer any recommendations about your school options. It may also be prudent 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 Program's Job Placement Percentage? There are a two useful statistics that you need to find out about all of the physical therapist schools you are considering. First is their graduation rate. A lower rate might indicate that students left because of dissatisfaction with the program, the teachers, or both. After the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being placed in jobs with the assistance of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Goodyear AZ area? If a program has a high job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the medical care community is good or even outstanding. It also affirms that the school has a broad network of contacts to help students obtain internships or employment after graduation.

Does the Program Support Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the college you select furnishes both superior training and a curriculum that supports the licensing criteria for Arizona or the state where you will be practicing. 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. Although licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PTA and PT graduates, some states require a minimum number of clinical hours be performed as well as passing scores on additional tests.

Are Internship Programs Sponsored? Inquire if the physical therapy programs you are evaluating have relationships with Goodyear AZ clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a great manner to obtain practical training in a clinical environment, they are additionally a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they can assist students and graduates develop professional connections in the Goodyear healthcare community and help with job placement once licensed.

How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of student that likes to sit way in the back of class or get lost in the crowd, you will probably prefer a small class size. Smaller classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapy colleges you are considering what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you an opportunity to converse with some of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapist program as well.

Where is the Program Located? For many students, the physical therapist school they select will need to be within commuting distance of their Goodyear AZ residence. Students who have chosen to attend online classes 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 keep in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a program that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges usually charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges normally charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.

Is Financial Help Offered? Most DPT colleges provide some type of financial assistance to their potential students. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have a financial assistance office and find out what type of aid is available. At a minimum they should help in getting a student loan or any grants you might qualify for. A number of physical therapy schools offer scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before you eliminate a school because the tuition is too expensive, learn what financial assistance might be available.

Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to verify that the physical therapist program you ultimately choose can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you decide to continue working while attending school. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Goodyear AZ area, check that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, check if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would have to enroll in. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Goodyear Online Physical Therapist Majors

Enroll in the Best Goodyear Physical Therapist School

Picking the ideal physical therapy college is a necessary first decision you must make to launch a fulfilling career in the health care field. As we have addressed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and school you select should both have excellent reputations and be accredited. However there are additional important questions that you should ask concerning your school of choice also. As you begin your search for a physical therapy school bear in mind that numerous variables will lead you toward your final decision. You might want to visit different colleges to see their facilities and talk with current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this college help me reach my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By adhering to our list of additional questions, you will be able to narrow down the field so you can make the ideal choice. And with the necessary education and training, you can accomplish your dream of becoming a licensed physical therapist in Goodyear Arizona.


 

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