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How to Choose the Right Physical Therapy Program Near Green Valley Arizona

Green Valley Arizona physical therapist working with woman holding exercise ballObtaining a physical therapist degree near Green Valley AZ is a critical first step to launching a rewarding career in the healthcare field. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been disabled 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 necessary education and training. A PT must also be licensed in all states, many mandating that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So prior to enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's necessary to evaluate those you are looking at to make sure they will deliver a quality education and satisfy your state's licensing requirements. What you should not do is select a college simply because it happens to be the nearest to your residence or it has the lowest tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that need to be considered in addition to location and cost. But before we talk about what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, we'll address what a physical therapist does and the options for education.

What is a Physical Therapist?

Green Valley Arizona physical therapist assisting female patient to walk

Physical therapists practice in varying locations, such as Green Valley AZ hospitals, health clinics, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and health clubs. What the facilities all share in common is that they are equipped for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As previously stated, physical therapists help individuals that are experiencing a lack of mobility and in many cases pain caused by injury or illness. After diagnosing a patient, they develop a program of treatment to address the mobility problems and lessen or eliminate any pain. They also try to prevent any advancement of the disability. While the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are abundant, they include:

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

Licensed physical therapists work in close association with other Green Valley AZ medical professionals, including doctors, chiropractors, dentists and nurses. They may also supervise several physical therapy assistants who work under them assisting with diagnosing and treating their patients. Something to take note of for anyone thinking about entering the physical therapy profession, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift patients and heavy equipment, and stand, crouch and kneel for extended periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degrees

Green Valley Arizona DPT working with man in pool

There are three physical therapist degree options offered for individuals to pursue at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these options, the one degree that is attainable that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees target either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or preparing them to progress to the doctoral level. Below are short descriptions of degrees that are available to prospective students in the Green Valley AZ area:

  • Associate Degrees prepare students to become physical therapy assistants, or can be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Applicants must have obtained a high school diploma or GED to be accepted for enrollment. The programs are most often provided by junior or community colleges, and require two years to complete. An internship or other form of clinical training is usually a portion of the program.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapy training to prepare candidates to move up to the doctoral level. While they are not required to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an integral initial step to becoming a PT. Similar to most bachelor's degrees, they normally take four years to finish and often include an internship program of at least 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 complete, making the overall investment of time seven years in the majority of cases. Clinical or practical training is an intregal element in addition to the extensive lab and classroom instruction. Consequently the fulfillment of an internship is required, not solely for graduation but in several 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 attainable in the USA. A number of licensed physical therapists having a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the existing licensing requirement for a doctorate was instituted.

Physical Therapist Schools Online

Green Valley Arizona woman taking physical therapist classes onlineWhile not as common as the on-campus options, there are many accredited online physical therapist programs offered, even more at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on nature of the training, internships and clinical lab work are incorporated with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live close to the college 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 Green Valley AZ residence. Online schools are not only partially more accessible, but in a number of cases more economical. Tuition can be significantly less than comparable on-campus alternatives, and expenses for commuting are minimized. And many of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These benefits may make the online alternative the ideal choice for those students that are disciplined enough to attend classes at home.

Subjects to Ask Physical Therapist Colleges

By now you probably have come to decision regarding several of your initial questions, including the kind of physical therapist degree you want to earn, where you want to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to invest in your education. But since there are so many PT schools within the Green Valley AZ area and across Arizona, you'll need to explore other qualifications as well so as to further reduce your list of college choices. Also, you want to make sure that you pick the school that is ideal for you. That's why we have collected a list of critical questions that you need to ask the physical therapist programs you are considering. Ask each of the competing colleges these questions prior to making an ultimate selection.

Is the Physical Therapy College Accredited?  Find out if the colleges you are considering have earned accreditation from a national or a regional agency. As earlier mentioned, 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 program, it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's essential that both the physical therapist program and school you choose are accredited, not simply the school. Additionally, check that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Along with ensuring that you obtain a quality education, accreditation may be required for state licensing as well as for securing student loans or financial assistance.

What is the School's Standing? Along with accreditation, it's important that the college and program you pick have excellent reputations within the physical therapist community. There are several ways you can investigate a PT program's reputation, beginning with asking for references from employers that they refer their students to. You may also check online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. Get in touch with a few Green Valley AZ physical therapist centers or other healthcare facilities that you may have an interest in working for and ask if they can offer any insight about your school options. It might also be prudent to contact the Arizona Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been submitted against the colleges.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? There are a two important statistics that you should find out about each of the physical therapy schools you are considering. First is their graduation rate. A low rate may mean that students left due to dissatisfaction with the program, the instructors, or both. After the students have graduated, how many of them are being placed in jobs with the support of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Green Valley AZ area? If a college has a high job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the healthcare field is good or even excellent. It also verifies that the school has a broad network of contacts to assist students gain internships or jobs upon graduation.

Does the Program Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's important that the school you select provides both exceptional training and a course of study that satisfies the licensing requirements for Arizona or the state where you will be working. In each state a passing score is needed on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) in addition to a degree from an accredited physical therapist school. While licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PT and PTA graduates, some states require a minimum number of clinical hours be performed and passing scores on additional exams.

Are Internships Provided? Find out if the physical therapy schools you are interested in have relationships with Green Valley AZ clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent manner to get practical experience in a clinical setting, they are also a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they may help graduates and students establish professional connections in the Green Valley health care community and assist with job placement once licensed.

How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of person that likes to sit way in the back of class or hide in the crowd, you will likely want a smaller class size. Smaller classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapist schools you are researching what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. 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 speak with a few of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the physical therapist program also.

Where is the College Located? For a number of students, the physical therapist college they pick will need to be within commuting distance of their Green Valley AZ residence. Individuals who have decided to attend classes online obviously will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. One thing to bear in mind is that if you decide 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 often charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges usually charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.

Is Financial Support Offered? Most DPT colleges supply some form of financial assistance to their prospective students. Ask if the schools you are considering have a financial assistance department and see what kind of aid is offered. At a minimum they should help in obtaining a student loan or any grants you may be eligible for. A number of physical therapist colleges provide scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before you eliminate a college because the tuition is too expensive, learn what financial assistance might be available.

Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to verify that the physical therapist program you finally select can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you decide to continue working while attending classes. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Green Valley AZ area, make sure that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, check if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would need to enroll in. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Green Valley Physical Therapist Training

Choose the Best Green Valley Physical Therapist School

Picking the best physical therapist school is an important initial decision you need to make to begin a fulfilling career in the healthcare field. As we have addressed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and school you enroll in should both have outstanding reputations and accreditation. But there are other relevant questions that you need to ask regarding your college of choice also. As you start your search for a physical therapist school bear in mind that numerous factors will lead you toward your final decision. You may decide 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 accomplish my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By adhering to our list of supplemental questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the options so you can make the best choice. And with the necessary training and education, you can achieve your dream to become a licensed physical therapist in Green Valley Arizona.


 

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