How to Enroll In the Right Physical Therapist School Near Kingman Arizona
Getting a physical therapist degree near Kingman AZ is an important first step to starting a fulfilling career in the health care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been debilitated as a result of injury or illness regain function and mobility. But before they may legally practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they need to obtain the necessary education and training. A PT must additionally be licensed in all states, many mandating that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So before selecting a physical therapy school, it's necessary to evaluate the ones you are thinking about to make sure they will supply a superior education and comply with your state's licensing criteria. What you do not want to do is enroll in a college just because it happens to be the closest to your home or it has the lowest tuition. There are other significant qualifications that need to 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 Do Physical Therapists Do?
Physical therapists practice in diverse settings, including Kingman AZ private practices, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and sports facilities. What the facilities all share in common is that they are equipped for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As previously touched on, physical therapists help people that are suffering from a lack of mobility and frequently pain due to illness or injury. After patient diagnosis, they create a course of treatment to resolve the mobility problems and reduce or eliminate any pain. They also try to prevent any advancement of the disability. While the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are abundant, they include:
- Osteoporosis and Arthritis
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Head injuries
- Heart attacks
- Sports injuries
- Fire injuries
- Hip Replacement
- Cerebral Palsy
Licensed physical therapists practice in close affiliation with other Kingman AZ health specialists, including chiropractors, physicians, registered nurses and dentists. They can also oversee several physical therapy assistants who work for them in diagnosing and treating their patients. Something to keep in mind for anyone thinking about entering the physical therapy field, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists often lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and kneel, crouch and stand for extended periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapy Degrees
There are three physical therapist degree options offered for individuals to enroll in at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these options, the only degree that is available that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees emphasize either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or readying them to progress to the doctoral level. Following are brief descriptions of degree levels that are available to prospective students in the Kingman AZ area:
- Associate Degrees prepare students to become physical therapy assistants, or may be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Applicants must have earned a high school diploma or equivalent to qualify for enrollment. The programs are most often provided by community colleges, and require two years to complete. An internship or other form of clinical training is normally a portion of the program.
- Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapist training to prepare students to advance to the doctoral level. Although they are not a requirement to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an integral preliminary step to practicing as a PT. Similar to the majority of bachelor's degrees, they normally take four years to complete and usually incorporate 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 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 total commitment 7 years in most cases. Clinical training is an intregal element along with the extensive lab and classroom instruction. Consequently 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 taken the place of the Master's of Physical Therapy (MPT), which has been phased out and is no longer available in the United States. Some licensed physical therapists having a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the current licensing requirement for a doctorate was instituted.
Physical Therapy Online Schools
Although not as prevalent as the on-campus alternatives, there are many accredited online physical therapy programs offered, even more 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 requires that the student live near the school campus or in proximity of an available internship. However, the online segment of the curriculum may be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Kingman AZ home. Online schools are not only to some extent more accessible, but in a number of cases more affordable. Tuition might be somewhat less than similar 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 advantages may make the online option the best choice for those students that are dedicated enough to learn at home.
Subjects to Ask Physical Therapist Programs
By now you probably have come to decision regarding several of your preliminary questions, such as the type of physical therapist degree you would like to obtain, where you want to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to spend for your education. But since there are numerous PT schools within the Kingman AZ area and across Arizona, you'll have to research other qualifications as well so as to further narrow your list of college choices. Moreover, you want to make certain that you pick the college that is best for you. That's why we have put together a list of critical questions that you must ask the physical therapist schools you are reviewing. Ask all of the potential schools these questions before making an ultimate decision.
Is the Physical Therapy Program Accredited? Ask if the colleges you are considering have earned accreditation from a regional or a national organization. As earlier 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 college, it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's important that both the physical therapy school and program you enroll in are accredited, not simply the school. Also, check that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Along with guaranteeing that you obtain an excellent education, accreditation may be mandated for state licensing as well as for securing student loans or financial assistance.
What is the College's Reputation? In addition to accreditation, it's important that the school and program you choose have exceptional reputations within the physical therapy profession. There are multiple ways you can research a PT program's reputation, starting with requesting references from employers that they refer their students to. You can also search for online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. Call some Kingman AZ physical therapist 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 selections. It may 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 useful statistics that you should find out about all of the physical therapy programs you are considering. One is their graduation rate. A lower rate may mean that students left because of displeasure with the program, the teachers, or both. After the students have graduated, how many of them are being placed in jobs with the support of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Kingman AZ area? If a program has a higher job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the healthcare field is good or even outstanding. It also confirms that the program has a broad network of contacts to assist students obtain internships or jobs after graduation.
Does the Program Support Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the school you enroll in furnishes both exceptional training and a curriculum that supports the licensing criteria for Arizona or the state where you will be practicing. In every state a passing score is required on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) as well as a degree from an accredited physical therapist program. Although licensing requirements vary state by state for PTA and PT graduates, many states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be completed and passing scores on supplemental exams.
Are Internships Offered? Ask if the physical therapist schools you are interested in have relationships with Kingman AZ hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only a great manner to obtain practical experience in a clinical environment, they are also a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they may assist students and graduates establish professional connections in the Kingman medical community and assist with obtaining employment once licensed.
What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of person that prefers to sit way in the back of class or hide in the crowd, you will likely prefer a smaller class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapist colleges you are reviewing what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you a chance to talk with a few of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapy program also.
Where is the College Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapist college they choose will have to be within commuting distance of their Kingman AZ residence. Those who have decided to attend online classes obviously will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. Something to keep in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a program that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges commonly charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges often charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.
Is Financial Help Offered? The majority of DPT schools provide some form of financial aid to their prospective students. Inquire if the schools you are considering have a financial aid department and find out what type of assistance is obtainable. At a minimum they should help in obtaining a student loan or any scholarships you might be eligible for. Some physical therapy schools provide scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before you eliminate a school because the tuition is too expensive, find out what financial aid may be available.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to confirm that the physical therapist school you ultimately pick can provide the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you decide to continue working while attending school. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Kingman AZ area, verify that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, find out if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would need to carry. Also, find out what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Kingman Physical Therapy School
Choosing the right physical therapist school is a necessary initial decision you need to make to begin a fulfilling career in the health care field. As we have addressed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and school you choose should both have excellent reputations and accreditation. However there are other relevant questions that you should ask concerning your college of choice as well. As you begin your search for a physical therapy school keep in mind that many factors will guide you toward your ultimate decision. You might want to go to each of the colleges to see their facilities and speak with active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this program help me accomplish my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By following our list of additional questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the field so you can make the best choice. And with the proper training and education, you can fulfill your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in Kingman Arizona.