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How to Choose the Right Physical Therapy Degree Program Near Holbrook Arizona

Holbrook Arizona physical therapist working with woman holding exercise ballObtaining a physical therapy degree near Holbrook AZ is an important first step to beginning a fulfilling career in the healthcare industry. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been incapacitated as a result of injury or illness gain back mobility and function. But before they may legally practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they must get the appropriate training and education. A PT must also become licensed in all states, a large number mandating that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So before choosing a physical therapy school, it's essential to investigate those you are thinking about to ensure they will furnish a quality education and comply with your state's licensing requirements. What you do not want to do is choose a school simply because it happens to be the nearest to your home or it has the lowest tuition. There are other important qualifications that need to be considered along with location and cost. But before we discuss 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's Job Description?

Holbrook Arizona physical therapist assisting woman to walk

Physical therapists practice in a variety of locations, including Holbrook AZ private practices, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and sports facilities. What the facilities all share in common is that they are equipped for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As earlier touched on, physical therapists help patients that are experiencing a lack of mobility and often pain due to injury or illness. After patient diagnosis, they develop a program of treatment to address the mobility problems and reduce or eliminate any pain. They also endeavor to stop any progression of the disability. While the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Car or motor cycle accidents
  • Strokes
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Burn injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists practice in close partnerships with other Holbrook AZ medical professionals, including doctors, chiropractors, dentists and nurses. They can also supervise several physical therapy assistants who work under them assisting with diagnosing and treating their patients. One thing to take note of for anyone considering entering the physical therapy field, it is rather 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 Therapy Degree Options

Holbrook Arizona physical therapist working with patient in pool

There are 3 physical therapy degrees offered for individuals to pursue at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these alternatives, the single degree that is offered that qualifies the graduate to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees focus on either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or prepping them to advance to the doctoral level. Following are short summaries of degree levels that are available to prospective students in the Holbrook AZ area:

  • Associate Degrees prepare students to practice as physical therapy assistants, or can be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Applicants must have obtained a high school diploma or equivalent to be accepted for enrollment. The degrees are usually provided by junior or community colleges, and take about two years to complete. An internship or other form of clinical training is usually part of the program.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapist training to prep students to advance to the doctoral level. While they are not a requirement to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an essential preliminary step to becoming a PT. As with the majority of bachelor's degrees, they typically require 4 years to finish and usually include an internship program of at least 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are mandated 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 investment of time 7 years in most cases. Clinical or practical training is an essential component along with the extensive lab and classroom instruction. Consequently the completion of an internship is mandated, 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 phased out and is no longer attainable in the United States. Some practicing physical therapists having a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the current licensing requirement for a doctorate was instituted.

Physical Therapist Degrees Online

Holbrook Arizona female student taking physical therapy classes onlineAlthough not as common as the on-campus alternatives, there are many accredited online physical therapist degrees offered, more so at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on nature of the training, internships and clinical lab work are integrated with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live close to the college campus or nearby an available internship. However, the online segment of the curriculum may be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Holbrook AZ residence. Online schools are not only partially more accessible, but in a number of cases more economical. Tuition can be somewhat less than comparable on-campus alternatives, and expenditures for commuting are minimized. And many of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These benefits can make the online alternative the right choice for those students that are motivated enough to attend classes at home.

Topics to Ask Physical Therapy Schools

At this point you most likely have made a decision regarding several of your initial queries, such as the type of physical therapist degree you would like to attain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much you can afford to spend for your education. But because there are so many PT schools within the Holbrook AZ area and throughout Arizona, you'll have to look into additional qualifications as well in order to further reduce your list of school choices. Moreover, you want to be sure that you select the program that is best for you. That's the reason we have put together a list of essential questions that you must ask the physical therapy colleges you are considering. Ask all of the competing colleges these questions prior to making a final selection.

Is the Physical Therapy College Accredited?  Find out if the programs you are looking at have earned accreditation from a regional or a national 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 school, it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's essential that both the physical therapist program and school you choose are accredited, not just the school. Additionally, make sure that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Besides guaranteeing that you receive a quality education, accreditation may be required for state licensing as well as for securing student loans or financial aid.

What is the School's Reputation? Along with accreditation, it's important that the school and program you pick have exceptional reputations within the physical therapist community. There are multiple ways you can research a PT school's reputation, starting with requesting references from employers that they refer their students to. You can also search for online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. Get in touch with some Holbrook AZ physical therapy clinics or other health care facilities that you may have an interest in working for and ask if they can give you any recommendations about your school options. It might also be prudent to contact the Arizona Attorney General and school licensing authority to find out if any complaints have been submitted against the schools.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? There are a two relevant statistics that you need to know about all of the physical therapy schools you are considering. First is their graduation rate. A lower rate might suggest that students dropped out because of displeasure with the program, the instructors, or both. After the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being hired with the support of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Holbrook 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 excellent. It also confirms that the college has a wide network of contacts to assist students gain internships or jobs upon graduation.

Does the School Support Licensing Requirements? It's important that the school you enroll in provides both excellent training and a curriculum that supports the licensing requirements for Arizona or the state where you will be working. In each state a passing score is required on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) as well as a degree from an accredited physical therapy school. While licensing requirements vary state by state for PT and PTA graduates, some states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be performed and passing scores on additional tests.

Are Internships Offered? Find out if the physical therapy colleges you are interested in have partnerships with Holbrook AZ hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships an excellent means to obtain hands on training in a clinical setting, they are also a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they can assist students and graduates establish professional connections in the Holbrook health care community and assist with job placement after licensing.

How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of student that likes to sit way in the back of class or hide in the crowd, you will likely want a smaller class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapy colleges you are considering what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you a chance to converse with some of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapist program also.

Where is the School Located? For a number of students, the physical therapy college they select will need to be within commuting distance of their Holbrook AZ residence. Those who have opted to attend online classes obviously will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of importance. One thing to bear in mind 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 Provided? The majority of DPT colleges supply some type of financial assistance to their prospective students. Inquire if the colleges you are reviewing have a financial aid department and see what kind of aid is offered. At a minimum they should help in securing a student loan or any grants you may be eligible for. A number of physical therapist schools provide scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before eliminating a school because the tuition is too expensive, find out what financial assistance might be available.

Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to verify that the physical therapist program you finally choose can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you opt to continue working while attending school. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Holbrook AZ area, verify that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would need to enroll in. Also, ask 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 Holbrook Physical Therapy Programs

Enroll in the Best Holbrook Physical Therapy School

Deciding on the ideal physical therapist school is a necessary initial decision you need to make to start a rewarding career in the health care profession. As we have discussed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and college you select should both have exceptional reputations and accreditation. But there are other critical questions that you should ask pertaining to your college of choice also. As you start your search for a physical therapy college bear in mind that many variables will guide you to your final decision. You might decide to visit each of the schools to view their facilities and speak to current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this school help me realize my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By following our list of supplemental questions, you will be able to narrow down the options so you can make the appropriate selection. And with the necessary training and education, you can accomplish your dream of becoming a licensed physical therapist in Holbrook Arizona.


 

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