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How to Pick the Right Physical Therapist Degree Program Near Green Valley Arizona

Green Valley Arizona physical therapist working with female patient holding balance ballGetting a physical therapist degree near Green Valley AZ is an essential first step to starting a rewarding career in the healthcare field. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been debilitated due to illness or injury gain back function and mobility. But before they may legally practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they must acquire the necessary education and training. A PT must additionally become licensed in all states, a large number mandating that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So prior to selecting a physical therapy school, it's necessary to research those you are looking at to ensure they will provide a quality education and meet your state's licensing requirements. What you do not want to do is enroll in a school simply because it happens to be the nearest to your residence or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other important qualifications that must be evaluated along with location and cost. But before we discuss 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's Job Description?

Green Valley Arizona DPT helping female patient to walk

Physical therapists practice in diverse settings, including Green Valley 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 earlier mentioned, physical therapists help individuals that are experiencing a lack of mobility and frequently pain caused by injury or illness. After patient diagnosis, they create a program of treatment to deal with the mobility issues and lessen or eliminate any pain. They also strive to prevent any advancement of the disability. While the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are abundant, they include:

  • Osteoporosis and Arthritis
  • Car or motor cycle accidents
  • Strokes
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Burn injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Cerebral Palsy

Licensed physical therapists work in close association with other Green Valley AZ health professionals, including doctors, chiropractors, registered nurses and dentists. They may also oversee one or more physical therapy assistants who work for them assisting with diagnosing and treating their patients. One thing to bear in mind for anyone thinking about getting into the physical therapy field, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and kneel, crouch and stand for extended periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapist Degrees

Green Valley Arizona physical therapist working with man in pool

There are three physical therapy degree options offered for individuals to pursue at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these alternatives, the single degree that is attainable that qualifies the graduate to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees emphasize either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or prepping them to advance to the doctoral level. Following are short explanations of degrees that are offered to prospective students in the Green Valley AZ area:

  • Associate Degrees educate students to be physical therapy assistants, or can be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Applicants must have a high school diploma or equivalent to qualify for enrollment. The degrees are typically offered by community or junior colleges, and require two years to complete. An internship or other form of clinical training is typically part of the program.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapist education to prep students to move up to the doctoral level. Although they are not required to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an important initial step to practicing as a PT. As with most bachelor's degrees, they normally require four years to complete and commonly include an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are mandated if you want to become a licensed practicing physical therapist. The degree program also must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). In addition to the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes 3 years to complete, making the total commitment seven years in most cases. Practical or clinical training is an essential element along with the considerable lab and classroom instruction. Therefor 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 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 practicing physical therapists holding a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the current licensing mandate for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapy Degrees Online

Green Valley Arizona woman taking physical therapist classes onlineWhile not as common as the on-campus alternatives, there are many 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 integrated with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live near the school campus or nearby an available internship. Fortunately, the online portion of the course of study 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 might be significantly less than comparable on-campus options, and expenditures for commuting are reduced. And a number of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These benefits can make the online alternative the right choice for those students that are dedicated enough to attend classes at home.

Subjects to Ask Physical Therapy Colleges

At this point you most likely have made a decision concerning several of your initial queries, such as the kind of physical therapist degree you want to earn, where you want to attend classes, and how much you can afford to spend for your education. But since there are numerous PT colleges within the Green Valley AZ area and across Arizona, you'll have to explore other qualifications also in order to further reduce your list of college choices. Also, you need to make sure that you enroll in the college that is right for you. That's the reason we have compiled a list of important questions that you must ask the physical therapy schools you are considering. Ask each of the competing colleges these questions prior to making a final decision.

Is the Physical Therapist College Accredited?  Find out if the programs you are reviewing have received 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 enroll in an online school, it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's essential that both the physical therapy school and program you enroll in are accredited, not simply the school. Also, make sure that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Besides ensuring that you obtain an excellent education, accreditation might be required for state licensing and even for getting student loans or financial aid.

What is the School's Ranking? Along with accreditation, it's imperative that the school and program you select have exceptional reputations within the physical therapist profession. There are multiple ways you can investigate a PT program's reputation, starting with requesting references from employers that they refer their students to. You may also search for online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. Call several Green Valley AZ physical therapy clinics or other medical care facilities that you might have an interest in working for and ask if they can provide any recommendations about your program selections. 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 colleges.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? There are a two significant statistics that you need to know about each of the physical therapist programs 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. Once the students have graduated, how many of them are being placed in jobs with the help of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Green Valley AZ area? If a college has a high job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the medical care field is good or even exceptional. It also verifies that the program has a wide network of contacts to assist students get internships or employment after graduation.

Does the School 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 practicing. In every state a passing score is needed on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) as well as a degree from an accredited physical therapy school. Although licensing requirements differ state by state for PTA and PT graduates, a number of states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be completed and passing scores on additional tests.

Are Internship Programs Offered? Ask if the physical therapy colleges you are interested in have relationships with Green Valley AZ hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific manner to obtain hands on training in a clinical setting, they are additionally a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they may assist students and graduates establish professional relationships in the Green Valley healthcare community and assist with obtaining employment once licensed.

What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the sort of student that prefers to sit way in the rear of class or get lost in the crowd, you will probably prefer a smaller class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapy colleges you are researching what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you an opportunity to speak with several of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapist program also.

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

Is Financial Aid Provided? The majority of DPT schools supply some form of financial aid to their prospective students. Find out if the colleges you are looking at have a financial aid department and see what type of aid is available. At a minimum they should help in securing a student loan or any scholarships you might be eligible for. A number of physical therapy schools offer scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before eliminating a program because the tuition is beyond your budget, find out what financial assistance may be available.

Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must verify that the physical therapy school you ultimately choose can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you choose to continue working while attending classes. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Green Valley AZ area, make certain that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify if that is an option 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 as a result of illness, work or family emergencies.

Learn More About Green Valley Online Physical Therapist Degrees

Enroll in the Best Green Valley Physical Therapy School

Choosing the ideal physical therapist program 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 PT or DPT degree program and college you enroll in should both have outstanding reputations and be accredited. But there are additional important questions that you should ask regarding your school of choice also. As you begin your search for a physical therapist college bear in mind that numerous factors will lead you toward your ultimate decision. You might want to visit different colleges to see their facilities and speak to current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this program help me achieve my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By following our list of additional questions, you will be able to narrow down the options so you can make the ideal selection. And with the necessary training and education, you can fulfill your dream of becoming a licensed physical therapist in Green Valley Arizona.


 

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