How to Select the Right Physical Therapy School Near Lake Havasu City Arizona
Earning a physical therapist degree near Lake Havasu City AZ is an important first step to beginning a rewarding career in the medical care field. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been debilitated as a result of illness or injury gain back mobility and function. But before they can practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they need to obtain the appropriate education and training. A PT must additionally become licensed in all states, a large number mandating that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So prior to selecting a physical therapy school, it's important to research those you are looking at to ensure they will supply a superior education and satisfy your state's licensing standards. What you should not do is choose a college simply because it happens to be the nearest to your residence or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other important qualifications that need to be considered along with cost and location. But before we talk about what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, we'll address what a physical therapist does and what the educational options are.
What is a Physical Therapist's Job Description?
Physical therapists work in varying locations, such as Lake Havasu City AZ hospitals, health clinics, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and sports facilities. What the facilities all have in common is that they have the equipment for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As earlier stated, physical therapists help individuals that are experiencing a lack of mobility and frequently pain caused by injury or illness. After patient diagnosis, they create a course of treatment to address the mobility problems and reduce or eliminate any pain. They also endeavor to prevent any progression of the disability. Though the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are abundant, they include:
- Arthritis or Osteoporosis
- Car or motor cycle accidents
- Heart attacks
- Sports injuries
- Burn injuries
- Hip Replacement
- Multiple Sclerosis
Licensed physical therapists practice in close partnerships with other Lake Havasu City AZ medical specialists, including chiropractors, physicians, registered nurses and dentists. They can also manage one or more physical therapy assistants who work under them in diagnosing and treating their patients. Something to take note of for anyone thinking about entering the physical therapy field, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift patients and heavy equipment, and kneel, crouch and stand for long periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapy Degrees Offered
There are 3 physical therapy degrees offered for students to pursue at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these choices, the single degree that is offered that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees emphasize either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or readying them to advance to the doctoral level. Following are short explanations of degree levels that are offered to prospective students in the Lake Havasu City AZ area:
- Associate Degrees educate students to become physical therapy assistants, or may be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Applicants must have a high school diploma or equivalent to qualify for enrollment. The programs are typically provided by community colleges, and take about two years for completion. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is typically a portion of the curriculum.
- Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapist education to prep students to progress to the doctoral level. While they are not a requirement to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an important first step to practicing as a PT. Similar to the majority of bachelor's degrees, they normally require 4 years to finish and usually incorporate an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
- Doctorate Degrees are required if you want to become a licensed practicing physical therapist. The degree program must also be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). After earning the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes 3 years to finish, making the total investment of time 7 years in most cases. Practical or clinical training is an essential element in addition to the substantial lab and classroom instruction. Consequently the fulfillment of an internship is required, not just 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 offered in the United States. Some licensed physical therapists holding a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the present licensing requirement for a doctorate was instituted.
Physical Therapy Online Schools
While not as common as the more traditional alternatives, there are a number of accredited online physical therapy degrees available, more so at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on nature of the training, internships and clinical lab work are integrated with the online classes. This requires that the student live close to the college campus or nearby a sponsored internship. However, the online segment of the curriculum may 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 many cases more affordable. Tuition can be somewhat less than similar on-campus alternatives, and expenses for commuting are reduced. And a number of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These benefits may make the online alternative the best choice for those students that are dedicated enough to learn at home.
What to Ask Physical Therapy Colleges
By now you most likely have made a decision concerning some of your initial queries, including the type of physical therapy degree you would like to attain, where you want to attend classes, and how much you can afford to invest in your education. But since there are so many PT colleges within the Lake Havasu City AZ area and across Arizona, you'll need to explore other qualifications also so as to further reduce your list of school options. Moreover, you need to be sure that you choose the college that is ideal for you. That's why we have compiled a list of essential questions that you need to ask the physical therapy programs you are thinking about. Ask all of the potential colleges these questions prior to making an ultimate decision.
Is the Physical Therapy College Accredited? Find out if the programs you are reviewing have earned 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 essential that both the physical therapy program and school you select are accredited, not just the school. Also, verify that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Along with guaranteeing that you obtain a quality education, accreditation might be mandated for state licensing and even for securing student loans or financial assistance.
What is the School's Ranking? Along with accreditation, it's imperative that the school and program you pick have exceptional reputations within the physical therapy profession. There are multiple ways you can look into a PT program's reputation, beginning with asking for references from employers that they place their graduates with. You can also search for online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. Get in touch with a few Lake Havasu City AZ physical therapist clinics or other health care facilities that you might have an interest in working for and ask if they can give you any recommendations about your program options. It might also be a good idea to contact the Arizona Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been filed against the colleges.
What is the College's Job Placement Rate? There are a couple of significant statistics that you need to know about all of the physical therapy schools you are looking at. One is their graduation rate. A lower rate may mean that students dropped out 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 college's job placement program, particularly in the Lake Havasu City AZ area? If a school has a higher job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the health care field is good or perhaps exceptional. It also affirms that the program has a wide network of contacts to help students get internships or jobs after graduation.
Does the Program Support Licensing Requirements? It's important that the program you enroll in provides both superior training and a course of study that satisfies the licensing criteria for Arizona or the state where you will be working. In every state a passing score is needed on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) in addition to a degree from an accredited physical therapy college. While licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PT and PTA graduates, some states require a minimum number of clinical hours be completed and passing scores on additional tests.
Are Internship Programs Provided? Inquire if the physical therapy colleges you are evaluating have relationships with Lake Havasu City AZ clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only a terrific manner to get practical experience in a clinical environment, they are also a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they may help graduates and students develop professional connections in the Lake Havasu City medical community and help with job placement after licensing.
What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of person that likes to sit way in the back of class or hide in the crowd, you will likely prefer a smaller class size. Smaller classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapy schools you are looking at 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 an opportunity to talk with a few of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapist program also.
Where is the Program Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapist college they decide on will need to be within driving distance of their Lake Havasu City AZ residence. Individuals who have chosen to attend classes online obviously will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. Something to consider is that if you choose to enroll in a program that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may have 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 Assistance Provided? The majority of DPT schools offer some type of financial aid to their potential students. Ask if the colleges you are reviewing have a financial aid department and see what kind of help is obtainable. They at least should help in securing a student loan or any grants you may qualify for. A number of physical therapist colleges offer scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before eliminating a school because the tuition is beyond your budget, ask what financial aid may be available.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to confirm that the physical therapist school you finally select can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you decide to continue working while attending school. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Lake Havasu City AZ area, make sure that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would need to carry. Also, learn what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Best Lake Havasu City Physical Therapy School
Picking the right physical therapist program is a necessary initial decision you need to make to begin a gratifying career in the medical profession. As we have covered in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and school you pick should both have exceptional reputations and accreditation. But there are other relevant questions that you should ask regarding your college of choice as well. As you begin your search for a physical therapy school keep in mind that numerous factors will guide you toward your final decision. You might want to visit each of the campuses to see their facilities and speak to current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this college help me accomplish my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By following our list of additional questions, you will be able to narrow down the field so you can make the appropriate selection. And with the proper education and training, you can fulfill your dream of becoming a licensed physical therapist in Lake Havasu City Arizona.