How to Find the Right Physical Therapy School Near Green Valley Arizona
Obtaining a physical therapy degree near Green Valley AZ is an important first step to launching a fulfilling career in the healthcare industry. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been debilitated as a result of illness or injury regain function and mobility. But before they may legally practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they must acquire the necessary education and training. A PT must also be licensed in every state, many mandating that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So prior to selecting a physical therapy school, it's important to evaluate those you are looking at to make sure they will furnish a quality education and satisfy your state's licensing requirements. What you do not want to do is select a school just because it happens to be the nearest to your home or it has cheapest tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that need to be considered in addition to location and cost. But before we cover what those qualifications are and the questions you should be asking, we'll address what a physical therapist does and the options for education.
What is a Physical Therapist?
Physical therapists practice in a variety of locations, such as Green Valley AZ private practices, hospitals, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and health clubs. What the facilities all share in common is that they are equipped for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As earlier stated, physical therapists help people that are suffering from a lack of mobility and often pain caused by injury or illness. After diagnosing a patient, they create a course of treatment to address the mobility problems and reduce or eradicate any pain. They also endeavor to stop any advancement of the disability. Though the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are abundant, they include:
- Arthritis or Osteoporosis
- Car or motor cycle accidents
- Head injuries
- Cardiac arrest
- Sports injuries
- Burn injuries
- Knee Replacement
- Multiple Sclerosis
Licensed physical therapists work in close association with other Green Valley AZ health professionals, including doctors, chiropractors, registered nurses and dentists. They can also supervise several physical therapy assistants who work for them assisting with diagnosing and treating their patients. One thing to take note of for anyone considering getting into the physical therapy profession, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and stand, crouch and kneel for extended periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapy Degrees Offered
There are 3 physical therapy degree options available for students to enroll in at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these alternatives, the single degree that is offered that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees concentrate on either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or prepping them to advance to the doctoral level. Following are brief summaries of degrees that are available to prospective students in the Green Valley AZ area:
- Associate Degrees educate students to become 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 degrees are most often offered by community or junior colleges, and require two years for completion. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is usually a component of the program.
- Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapy training to prep students to progress to the doctoral level. Although they are not a requirement to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an important preliminary step to practicing as a PT. As with most bachelor's degrees, they normally require four years to finish and commonly include an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
- Doctorate Degrees are a requirement if you want to become a practicing licensed 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. Practical or clinical training is an essential component along with the extensive lab and classroom instruction. Consequently the fulfillment of an internship is required, not just 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 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 present licensing requirement for a doctorate was implemented.
Physical Therapy Online Programs
While not as common as the more traditional alternatives, there are a number of accredited online physical therapist degrees offered, more so at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on structure of the training, clinical lab work and internships are combined with the online classes. This requires that the student live close to the college campus or nearby a sponsored internship. Fortunately, the online segment of the program can be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Green Valley AZ home. Online schools are not only partially more accessible, but in a number of instances more economical. Tuition can be somewhat lower than comparable on-campus options, and costs for commuting are reduced. And many of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These advantages can make the online option the ideal choice for those students that are disciplined enough to attend classes at home.
Questions to Ask Physical Therapy Schools
By now you most likely have made a decision concerning several of your initial queries, like the kind of physical therapist degree you would like to obtain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to spend for your education. But since there are so many PT colleges within the Green Valley AZ area and throughout Arizona, you'll need to explore other qualifications as well in order to further reduce your list of college options. Moreover, you want to be sure that you select the college that is best for you. That's the reason we have put together a list of critical questions that you must ask the physical therapy schools you are thinking about. Ask all of the competing schools these questions prior to making an ultimate decision.
Is the Physical Therapist School Accredited? Ask if the colleges you are reviewing have earned accreditation from a national or a regional organization. As previously mentioned, 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 school, it may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's important that both the physical therapist school and program you select are accredited, not just the school. Additionally, make sure that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Besides 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? In addition to accreditation, it's essential that the school and program you pick have excellent reputations within the physical therapist profession. There are a number of ways you can investigate a PT school'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. Call several Green Valley AZ physical therapy centers or other healthcare 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 Percentage? There are a couple of important statistics that you should find out about all of the physical therapy colleges you are considering. One is their graduation rate. A low rate might indicate that students dropped out due to dissatisfaction with the program, the teachers, or both. After the students have graduated, how many of them are being hired with the help of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Green Valley AZ area? If a program has a higher job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the health care community is good or even exceptional. It also confirms that the program has a broad network of contacts to help students obtain internships or employment after graduation.
Does the Program Support Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the college 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 practicing. In each state a passing score is needed on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapist college. While licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PT and PTA graduates, many states require a minimum number of clinical hours be performed as well as passing scores on supplemental tests.
Are Internship Programs Offered? Ask if the physical therapy colleges you are assessing have partnerships with Green Valley AZ hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships an excellent manner to receive 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 may assist students and graduates form professional relationships in the Green Valley healthcare community and help with obtaining employment after licensing.
What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the type of person that likes to sit far in the back of class or get lost in the crowd, you will probably prefer a small class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapist colleges you are looking at what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you an opportunity to speak with some of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the physical therapy program also.
Where is the Program Located? For a number of students, the physical therapist school they choose will have to be within driving distance of their Green Valley AZ home. Students who have opted to attend classes online naturally 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 program that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might have 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 Assistance Provided? Most DPT schools provide some form of financial support to their potential students. Inquire if the schools you are examining have a financial assistance department and see what kind of assistance is available. They at least should help in securing a student loan or any scholarships you may be eligible for. A number of physical therapist schools provide scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before eliminating a college because the tuition is too expensive, ask what financial aid may be available.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to verify that the physical therapy program you ultimately pick can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you choose to continue working while you attend classes. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Green Valley AZ area, verify that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, verify if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would have to enroll in. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of work, illness or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Green Valley Physical Therapist School
Choosing the best physical therapy college is an important first decision you need to make to launch a gratifying career in the health care profession. As we have discussed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and school you enroll in should both have outstanding reputations and be accredited. But there are additional critical questions that you should ask concerning your college of choice also. As you commence your search for a physical therapist college bear in mind that numerous factors will lead you to your final decision. You might decide to visit different schools to see their facilities and talk to active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this college help me achieve 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 options so you can make the appropriate selection. And with the necessary education and training, you can achieve your dream of becoming a licensed physical therapist in Green Valley Arizona.