How to Enroll In the Right Physical Therapist School Near Lake Havasu City Arizona
Receiving a physical therapy degree near Lake Havasu City AZ is a critical first step to starting a rewarding career in the health care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been incapacitated as a result of illness or injury regain mobility and function. But before they can practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they need to receive the appropriate training and education. A PT must additionally become licensed in all states, a large number requiring that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So prior to enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's important to evaluate the ones you are considering to make certain they will furnish a quality education and satisfy your state's licensing standards. What you should not do is enroll in a school simply because it happens to be the closest to your home or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other important qualifications that need to be evaluated along with location and cost. But before we cover what those qualifications are and the questions you should be asking, we'll address what a physical therapist does and the options for education.
What is a Physical Therapist's Job Description?
Physical therapists work in a variety of settings, including Lake Havasu City AZ hospitals, health clinics, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and health clubs. What the facilities all have in common is that they have the equipment for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As previously stated, physical therapists help patients that are struggling with a lack of mobility and in many cases pain due to illness or injury. After patient diagnosis, they create a course of treatment to deal with the mobility issues and reduce or eradicate any pain. They also endeavor to prevent any progression of the disability. While the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are abundant, they include:
- Arthritis or Osteoporosis
- Car or motor cycle accidents
- Cardiac arrest
- Sports injuries
- Burn injuries
- Hip Replacement
- Multiple Sclerosis
Licensed physical therapists work in close affiliation with other Lake Havasu City AZ medical specialists, including doctors, chiropractors, registered nurses and dentists. They can also supervise one or more physical therapy assistants who work for them assisting with diagnosing and treating their patients. Something to take note of for anyone thinking about getting into the physical therapy profession, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and stand, crouch and kneel for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapy Degree Options
There are 3 physical therapy degrees offered for individuals to enroll in at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these options, the only degree that is offered 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 short explanations of degrees that are offered to prospective students in the Lake Havasu City AZ area:
- Associate Degrees train students to become physical therapy assistants, or may be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Candidates must have a high school diploma or equivalent to qualify for enrollment. The degrees are typically provided by community or junior colleges, and take about 2 years for completion. An internship or other form of clinical training is normally part of the program.
- Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapy training to ready candidates to progress to the doctoral level. Although they are not required to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an essential preliminary step to practicing as a PT. As with the majority of bachelor's degrees, they normally require four years to complete and commonly include an internship program of at least 500 hours.
- Doctorate Degrees are mandated 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 3 years to finish, making the overall commitment seven years in the majority of cases. Clinical or practical training is an important component along with the substantial lab and classroom instruction. Consequently the fulfillment of an internship is required, not just for graduation but in a number of 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. A number of licensed physical therapists holding a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the present licensing mandate for a doctorate was implemented.
Physical Therapist Programs Online
While not as common as the on-campus options, there are many accredited online physical therapist degrees offered, even more at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on structure of the training, internships and clinical lab work are incorporated with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live near the school campus or nearby a sponsored internship. Fortunately, the online portion of the program can be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Lake Havasu City AZ home. Online schools are not only partially more accessible, but in many instances more economical. Tuition can be somewhat less than similar on campus alternatives, and expenditures for commuting are reduced. And a number of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These advantages can make the online option the ideal choice for those students that are dedicated enough to attend classes at home.
Topics to Ask Physical Therapist Colleges
At this point you probably have come to decision regarding some of your initial queries, such as the type of physical therapist degree you want to attain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to invest in your education. But considering there are numerous PT schools within the Lake Havasu City AZ area and across Arizona, you'll need to explore other qualifications as well so as to further reduce your list of school choices. Moreover, you need to be sure that you enroll in the school that is right for you. That's the reason we have compiled a list of essential questions that you must ask the physical therapist schools you are reviewing. Ask each of the competing colleges these questions before making a final selection.
Is the Physical Therapist College Accredited? Find out if the schools you are reviewing have received 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 enroll in an online college, it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapist program and school you select are accredited, not just the school. Also, check that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. In addition to ensuring that you receive an excellent education, accreditation might be required for state licensing as well as for getting student loans or financial assistance.
What is the School's Reputation? Along with accreditation, it's essential that the school and program you pick have exceptional reputations within the physical therapist profession. There are multiple ways you can look into a PT program's reputation, beginning with asking for 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 as well. Call several Lake Havasu City AZ physical therapist clinics or other healthcare facilities that you may be interested in working for and ask if they can give you any recommendations about your college options. It may also be prudent 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 School's Job Placement Rate? There are a couple of important statistics that you need to know about all of the physical therapy programs you are reviewing. One is their graduation rate. A low rate might suggest that students left due to dissatisfaction with the program, the teachers, or both. Once the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being hired with the assistance of the school'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 health care community is good or even outstanding. It also confirms that the college has a large network of contacts to help students gain internships or employment after graduation.
Does the School Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the college you select furnishes both superior training and a curriculum that satisfies the licensing criteria 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 therapist school. While licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PT and PTA graduates, many states require a minimum number of clinical hours be completed as well as passing scores on supplemental tests.
Are Internship Programs Offered? Find out if the physical therapist schools you are evaluating have associations with Lake Havasu City AZ clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a great means to receive practical experience in a clinical setting, they are also a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they may help students and graduates establish professional relationships in the Lake Havasu City medical community and assist with obtaining employment after licensing.
How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of student that prefers to sit way in the rear of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will probably prefer a smaller class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapist colleges you are considering what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you a chance to speak with some of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the physical therapy program also.
Where is the College Located? For many students, the physical therapist college they choose will need to be within travelling distance of their Lake Havasu City AZ home. Students who have chosen 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 decide to enroll in a college that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges normally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges generally charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.
Is Financial Support Offered? Most DPT colleges supply some type of financial aid to their potential students. Find out if the colleges you are examining have a financial assistance office and see what kind of aid is offered. They at least should help in securing a student loan or any scholarships you might be eligible for. Some physical therapy colleges offer scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before eliminating a school because the tuition is too expensive, ask what financial aid might be available.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must verify that the physical therapy college you ultimately select can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you decide to continue working while you attend classes. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Lake Havasu City AZ area, confirm that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, verify if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would have to carry. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss because of illness, work or family obligations.
Enroll in the Right Lake Havasu City Physical Therapy School
Deciding on the ideal physical therapist program is a necessary first decision you have to make to launch a rewarding career in the healthcare profession. As we have covered in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and school you decide on should both have outstanding reputations and be accredited. But there are additional critical questions that you need to ask regarding your school of choice also. As you start your search for a physical therapy college bear in mind that a number of variables will guide you to your ultimate decision. You might want to visit each of the colleges to view their facilities and speak to active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this program help me achieve 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 appropriate selection. And with the proper training and education, you can accomplish your dream of becoming a practicing physical therapist in Lake Havasu City Arizona.