How to Pick the Right Physical Therapist Degree Program Near Lake Havasu City Arizona
Obtaining a physical therapist degree near Lake Havasu City AZ is an important first step to launching a rewarding career in the medical care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been disabled as a result of injury or illness regain function and mobility. But before they may legally practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they need to get the proper training and education. A PT must additionally be licensed in all states, many mandating that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So before selecting a physical therapy school, it's necessary to evaluate those you are thinking about to make sure they will furnish a superior education and comply with your state's licensing criteria. What you do not want to do is select a school simply because it happens to be the nearest to your home or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that must be considered besides cost and location. But before we talk about what those qualifications are and the questions you should be asking, we'll cover what a physical therapist does and the options for education.
What is a Physical Therapist's Job Description?
Physical therapists practice in varying settings, including Lake Havasu City AZ hospitals, health clinics, 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 previously touched on, physical therapists help people that are struggling with a lack of mobility and often pain due to illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they design a course of treatment to deal with the mobility issues and lessen or eradicate any pain. They also strive to stop any advancement of the disability. While the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are numerous, they include:
- Arthritis or Osteoporosis
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Heart attacks
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Burn injuries
- Hip Replacement
- Multiple Sclerosis
Licensed physical therapists work in close affiliation with other Lake Havasu City AZ medical professionals, including chiropractors, physicians, registered nurses and dentists. They may also manage several physical therapy assistants who work for them assisting with diagnosing and treating their patients. Something to take note of for anyone thinking about entering the physical therapy profession, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists often lift patients and heavy equipment, and stand, crouch and kneel for extended periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapy Degrees Available
There are 3 physical therapy degrees available for individuals to enroll in at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these choices, the one degree that is offered that qualifies the graduate to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees concentrate on either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or prepping them to progress to the doctoral level. Below are brief descriptions of degrees that are available to prospective students in the Lake Havasu City AZ area:
- Associate Degrees educate 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 GED to be accepted for enrollment. The programs are most often 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 curriculum.
- Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapist training to prep candidates to progress 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. Similar to most bachelor's degrees, they normally take four years to finish and usually include an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
- Doctorate Degrees are required 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). In addition to the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes three years to finish, making the overall investment of time 7 years in most cases. Clinical training is an intregal element in addition to the substantial lab and classroom instruction. Therefor the completion of an internship is mandated, not just for graduation but in several 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 attainable in the United States. Some 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 Therapist Programs Online
Although not as prevalent as the on campus options, there are a number of accredited online physical therapist degrees offered, more so at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on nature 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 in proximity of an available internship. However, the online part of the course of study can be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Lake Havasu City AZ residence. Online programs are not only partially more accessible, but in a number of cases more economical. Tuition may be somewhat less than comparable on-campus options, and costs for commuting are reduced. And many of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These advantages may make the online alternative the ideal choice for those students that are disciplined enough to learn at home.
Questions to Ask Physical Therapy Schools
At this point you probably have made a decision regarding several of your initial queries, including the type of physical therapy degree you want to obtain, where you want to attend classes, and how much you can afford to spend for your education. But since there are so many PT colleges within the Lake Havasu City AZ area and throughout Arizona, you'll need to research additional qualifications as well so as to further reduce your list of college options. Also, you want to be sure that you choose the college that is right for you. That's why we have put together a list of critical questions that you must ask the physical therapy schools you are considering. Ask all of the potential colleges these questions prior to making an ultimate selection.
Is the Physical Therapy School Accredited? Ask if the schools you are considering 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 choose an online college, it may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's important that both the physical therapy program and school you choose are accredited, not just the school. Additionally, make sure that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. In addition to 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 College's Standing? In addition to accreditation, it's imperative that the college and program you choose have exceptional reputations within the physical therapist community. There are a number of ways you can research a PT program's reputation, beginning with requesting references from employers that they place their graduates with. You can also check online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Contact several Lake Havasu City AZ physical therapist centers or other healthcare facilities that you may have an interest in working for and ask if they can offer any insight about your school options. It may also be prudent to contact the Arizona Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been submitted against the schools.
What is the School's Job Placement Rate? There are a couple of important statistics that you should know about all of the physical therapist colleges you are reviewing. One is their graduation rate. A low rate might suggest that students left because of dissatisfaction with the program, the instructors, or both. After the students have graduated, how many 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 higher job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the healthcare field is good or even exceptional. It also verifies that the school has a wide network of contacts to help students gain internships or employment after graduation.
Does the College Support Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the college you enroll in 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) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapy college. While licensing requirements vary state by state for PTA and PT graduates, a number of states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be performed and passing scores on additional tests.
Are Internship Programs Sponsored? Find out if the physical therapist schools you are interested in have associations with Lake Havasu City AZ clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only a terrific manner to receive practical experience in a clinical setting, they are also a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they can help students and graduates develop professional relationships in the Lake Havasu City medical community and assist with job placement once licensed.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of student that prefers to sit way in the back of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a small class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapy schools you are researching what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you a chance to converse with some of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the physical therapy program also.
Where is the Program Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapy school they pick will need to be within travelling distance of their Lake Havasu City AZ residence. Those 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 consider is that if you decide to enroll in a school that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges generally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges normally charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.
Is Financial Support Provided? The majority of DPT colleges supply some type of financial assistance to their potential students. Ask if the colleges you are looking at have a financial assistance department and see what type of assistance is obtainable. At a minimum they should help in obtaining a student loan or any scholarships you may be eligible for. A number of physical therapist colleges provide scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before you eliminate a school because the tuition is beyond your budget, ask what financial aid may be available.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to confirm that the physical therapy school you finally select can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you decide to continue working while attending classes. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Lake Havasu City AZ area, confirm that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, verify if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would need to enroll in. Also, learn what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss as a result of work, illness or family obligations.
Enroll in the Right Lake Havasu City Physical Therapy School
Picking the ideal physical therapy college is a necessary initial decision you must make to begin a rewarding career in the health care profession. As we have covered in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and school you select should both have excellent reputations and be accredited. But there are other important questions that you should ask pertaining to your school of choice also. As you begin your search for a physical therapist school keep in mind that many factors will guide you to your final decision. You might decide to visit each of the schools to view their facilities and speak with current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this school help me reach my goal of becoming a practicing licensed 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 education and training, you can achieve your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in Lake Havasu City Arizona.