How to Pick the Right Physical Therapy College Near Lake Havasu City Arizona
Getting a physical therapy degree near Lake Havasu City AZ is an important first step to starting a rewarding career in the health care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been incapacitated due to injury or illness regain function and mobility. But before they can practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they must receive the proper 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 college. So prior to enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's important to research the ones you are considering to make sure they will furnish a quality education and comply with your state's licensing requirements. What you should not do is enroll in a school simply because it happens to be the nearest to your residence or it has cheapest tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that must be considered besides 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?
Physical therapists practice in diverse settings, including Lake Havasu City AZ private practices, hospitals, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and sports facilities. What the facilities all share in common is that they are equipped for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As earlier mentioned, physical therapists help patients that are suffering from a lack of mobility and frequently pain due to injury or illness. After diagnosing a patient, they create a program of treatment to deal with the mobility problems and reduce or eliminate any pain. They also try to stop any advancement of the disability. Although the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are numerous, they include:
- Osteoporosis and Arthritis
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Head injuries
- Heart attacks
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Fire injuries
- Hip Replacement
- Cerebral Palsy
Licensed physical therapists work in close partnerships with other Lake Havasu City AZ health professionals, including doctors, chiropractors, registered nurses and dentists. They may also oversee several physical therapy assistants who work for them assisting with diagnosing and treating their patients. One thing to keep in mind for anyone considering going into the physical therapy field, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists routinely lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and kneel, crouch and stand for long periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapy Degrees Offered
There are 3 physical therapist degrees available for individuals to enroll in 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 focus on either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or readying them to progress to the doctoral level. Following are short summaries of degree levels that are available to prospective students in the Lake Havasu City AZ area:
- Associate Degrees prepare students to become physical therapy assistants, or may be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Candidates must have obtained a high school diploma or equivalent to be accepted for enrollment. The degrees are typically made available by community colleges, and require 2 years to complete. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is usually a portion of the program.
- Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapy training to ready students to advance to the doctoral level. Although they are not required to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an essential preliminary step to practicing as a PT. Similar to most bachelor's degrees, they normally take 4 years to finish and usually 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). In addition to the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes 3 years to finish, making the overall commitment seven years in the majority of cases. Practical or clinical training is an important component in addition to the considerable lab and classroom instruction. Consequently the completion of an internship is required, not only 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 attainable in the USA. Some licensed physical therapists having a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the present licensing requirement for a doctorate was instituted.
Physical Therapy Online Degrees
Although not as prevalent as the on-campus options, there are a number of accredited online physical therapy programs available, 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 school campus or in proximity of a sponsored internship. However, the online portion of the course of study can be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Lake Havasu City AZ home. Online schools are not only to some extent more accessible, but in a number of instances more affordable. Tuition can be somewhat less than comparable on campus alternatives, and expenditures for commuting are reduced. And many of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These benefits may make the online alternative the best choice for those students that are dedicated enough to attend classes at home.
Topics to Ask Physical Therapist Schools
At this point you probably have come to decision regarding several of your preliminary queries, including the kind 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 numerous PT schools within the Lake Havasu City AZ area and throughout Arizona, you'll need to explore additional qualifications as well so as to further reduce your list of school options. Moreover, you want to make sure that you choose the program that is right for you. That's the reason we have put together a list of critical questions that you must ask the physical therapist colleges you are reviewing. Ask each of the potential colleges these questions prior to making a final selection.
Is the Physical Therapist College Accredited? Ask if the schools you are looking at have received accreditation from a regional or a national agency. As previously 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 program, it can also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's essential that both the physical therapy program and school you enroll in are accredited, not just the school. Also, check that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Besides ensuring that you receive an excellent education, accreditation may be mandated for state licensing and even for securing student loans or financial assistance.
What is the School's Standing? Along with accreditation, it's imperative that the school and program you choose have excellent reputations within the physical therapy profession. There are multiple ways you can investigate a PT college'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 organizations for their reviews as well. Get in touch with several Lake Havasu City AZ physical therapy clinics or other healthcare facilities that you might be interested in working for and ask if they can provide any recommendations about your school 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 filed against the colleges.
What is the Program's Job Placement Percentage? There are a couple of useful statistics that you should find out about each of the physical therapist colleges you are looking at. One is their graduation rate. A lower rate may indicate that students left because of displeasure with the program, the teachers, or both. After the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being hired with the assistance of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Lake Havasu City AZ area? If a program has a high job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the medical care field is good or even excellent. It also affirms that the program has a large network of contacts to assist students obtain internships or jobs upon graduation.
Does the College Support Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the program you select furnishes both excellent training and a curriculum 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) in addition to a degree from an accredited physical therapist school. Although licensing requirements vary state by state for PT and PTA graduates, a number of states require a minimum number of clinical hours be performed and passing scores on supplemental exams.
Are Internship Programs Provided? Find out if the physical therapist colleges you are interested in have associations with Lake Havasu City AZ clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships an excellent manner to receive hands on experience in a clinical environment, they are also a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they may help graduates and students form professional connections in the Lake Havasu City healthcare community and help with job placement once licensed.
How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of student that likes to sit far in the rear of class or hide in the crowd, you will probably prefer a small class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapy schools you are considering what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you a chance to speak with some of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the physical therapist program also.
Where is the College Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapist college they choose will need to be within driving distance of their Lake Havasu City AZ home. Students who have chosen to attend classes online naturally 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 keep in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a college that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges usually charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges usually charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Most DPT colleges offer some form of financial support to their prospective students. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have a financial aid office and find out what type of assistance is obtainable. At a minimum they should help in securing a student loan or any grants you might be eligible for. Some physical therapy colleges provide scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before you eliminate a program because the tuition is too expensive, learn what financial aid might be available.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to confirm that the physical therapy college you ultimately select can provide the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you choose to continue working while you attend classes. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Lake Havasu City AZ area, verify that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would have to enroll in. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Lake Havasu City Physical Therapist School
Picking the ideal physical therapist college is an important first decision you have to make to launch a fulfilling career in the healthcare field. As we have addressed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and college you pick should both have excellent reputations and accreditation. But there are additional relevant questions that you should ask regarding your college of choice also. As you start your search for a physical therapy school keep in mind that a number of factors will lead you to your ultimate decision. You might want to visit each of the campuses to see their facilities and speak with active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this college help me accomplish my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By adhering to our list of additional questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the field so you can make the right choice. And with the necessary training and education, you can fulfill your dream of becoming a practicing physical therapist in Lake Havasu City Arizona.