How to Pick the Right Physical Therapist School Near Guadalupe Arizona
Getting a physical therapy degree near Guadalupe AZ is an essential first step to launching a rewarding career in the health care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been disabled due to injury or illness regain function and mobility. But before they can practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they must obtain the appropriate training and education. A PT must also be licensed in every state, a large number requiring that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So before enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's essential to research the ones you are considering to make certain they will deliver a superior education and satisfy your state's licensing criteria. What you should not do is enroll in a school just because it happens to be the closest to your residence or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other significant qualifications that need to be evaluated in addition to location and cost. But before we cover 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 Do Physical Therapists Do?
Physical therapists work in varying locations, including Guadalupe AZ private practices, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and health clubs. What the facilities all have in common is that they are equipped for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As previously stated, physical therapists help people that are experiencing a lack of mobility and often pain caused by illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they design a program of treatment to resolve the mobility problems and reduce or eradicate any pain. They also try to stop any progression of the disability. While the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are numerous, they include:
- Arthritis or Osteoporosis
- Car or motor cycle accidents
- Heart attacks
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Burn injuries
- Knee Replacement
- Cerebral Palsy
Licensed physical therapists work in close partnerships with other Guadalupe AZ medical professionals, including chiropractors, physicians, dentists and nurses. They can also supervise several physical therapy assistants who work for them assisting with the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. One thing to take note of for anyone considering entering the physical therapy field, it is quite 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
There are three physical therapist degrees available for students to pursue at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these options, the single degree that is available that qualifies the graduate to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees target either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or readying them to progress to the doctoral level. Following are brief explanations of degrees that are available to prospective students in the Guadalupe AZ area:
- Associate Degrees prepare students to be physical therapy assistants, or can be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Candidates must have obtained a high school diploma or GED to qualify for enrollment. The degrees are usually provided by junior or community colleges, and require two years for completion. An internship or other form of clinical training is usually a portion of the program.
- Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapy education to prep candidates to advance to the doctoral level. Although they are not a requirement to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an essential first step to becoming a PT. Similar to the majority of bachelor's degrees, they typically require 4 years to complete and commonly include 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 must also 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 overall commitment 7 years in the majority of cases. Practical or clinical training is an essential element along with the considerable classroom and lab instruction. Therefor the fulfillment of an internship is mandated, not solely for graduation but in some states for licensing also.
The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) has replaced the Master's of Physical Therapy (MPT), which has been eliminated and is no longer offered in the USA. A number of licensed 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 Online Degrees
Although not as prevalent as the more traditional alternatives, there are some accredited online physical therapist programs offered, more so at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on nature of the training, clinical lab work and internships are combined with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live close to the school campus or in proximity of a sponsored internship. Fortunately, the online segment of the course of study can be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Guadalupe AZ home. Online programs 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 costs for commuting are reduced. And many of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These benefits may make the online option the best choice for those students that are disciplined enough to attend classes at home.
Topics to Ask Physical Therapy Schools
At this point you undoubtedly have made a decision regarding several of your initial questions, including the type of physical therapy degree you would like to obtain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much you can afford to invest in your education. But considering there are so many PT schools within the Guadalupe AZ area and across Arizona, you'll have to look into additional qualifications also in order to further reduce your list of college options. Moreover, you need to be sure that you pick the program that is best for you. That's the reason we have put together a list of critical questions that you need to ask the physical therapy schools you are considering. Ask each of the competing schools these questions before making a final decision.
Is the Physical Therapy College Accredited? Ask if the schools you are looking at have earned accreditation from a national or a regional agency. As previously mentioned, 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 obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's important that both the physical therapy program and school you choose are accredited, not simply the school. Additionally, verify that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Besides ensuring that you receive a quality education, accreditation may 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 imperative that the college and program you choose have excellent reputations within the physical therapy community. There are a number of ways you can research a PT school's reputation, beginning 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 some Guadalupe AZ physical therapist centers or other healthcare facilities that you may be interested in working for and ask if they can give you any advice about your college selections. It might also be a good idea to contact the Arizona Attorney General and school licensing authority to find out if any complaints have been submitted against the colleges.
What is the Program's Job Placement Percentage? There are a couple of significant statistics that you need to know about all of the physical therapy colleges you are reviewing. First is their graduation rate. A lower rate may indicate that students dropped out because of dissatisfaction with the program, the instructors, or both. Once the students have graduated, how many of them are being placed in jobs with the assistance of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Guadalupe AZ area? If a college has a high job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the health care field is good or perhaps exceptional. It also verifies that the school has a wide network of contacts to help students gain internships or jobs after graduation.
Does the College Support Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the college you enroll in provides both excellent training and a course of study that supports the licensing criteria 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 vary state by state for PTA and PT graduates, many states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be completed as well as passing scores on additional tests.
Are Internships Sponsored? Find out if the physical therapy programs you are evaluating have relationships with Guadalupe AZ hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only a terrific means to get practical experience in a clinical environment, they are also a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they can help graduates and students develop professional connections in the Guadalupe medical community and assist with job placement after licensing.
What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the sort of person that prefers to sit far in the rear of class or hide in the crowd, you will probably want a small class size. Small classes permit more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapy colleges you are looking at what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you an opportunity to speak with a few of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapy program as well.
Where is the College Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapist school they decide on will need to be within driving distance of their Guadalupe AZ residence. Students who have opted to attend online classes naturally will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of importance. One thing to consider is that if you decide to enroll in a program that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges typically charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges often charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.
Is Financial Aid Offered? The majority of DPT schools offer some type of financial assistance to their potential students. Ask if the colleges you are looking at have a financial aid office and see what kind of assistance is available. They at least should help in getting a student loan or any grants you may qualify for. Some physical therapist schools offer scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before eliminating a college because the tuition is too expensive, ask what financial aid might be available.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to verify that the physical therapy program you finally select can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you opt to continue working while you attend school. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Guadalupe AZ area, check that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, find out if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would need to carry. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss because of illness, work or family obligations.
Choose the Right Guadalupe Physical Therapy School
Picking the ideal physical therapist program is a necessary initial decision you need to make to begin a fulfilling career in the healthcare profession. As we have covered in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and school you choose should both have exceptional reputations and be accredited. But there are additional critical questions that you should ask concerning your college of choice also. As you start your search for a physical therapy college keep in mind that many variables will guide you toward your final decision. You may decide to go to different schools to see their facilities and speak 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 options so you can make the right choice. And with the necessary training and education, you can achieve your dream of becoming a licensed physical therapist in Guadalupe Arizona.