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How to Pick the Right Physical Therapy Degree Program Near Lake Havasu City Arizona

Lake Havasu City Arizona physical therapist working with woman holding exercise ballEarning a physical therapist degree near Lake Havasu City AZ is a critical first step to beginning a rewarding career in the health care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been debilitated as a result of illness or injury regain function and mobility. But before they may legally practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they must obtain the necessary education and training. A PT must additionally become licensed in all states, many requiring that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So before choosing a physical therapy school, it's important to investigate the ones you are considering to make certain they will supply a superior education and comply with your state's licensing standards. What you do not want to do is select a college just because it happens to be the nearest to your home or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other significant qualifications that must be considered 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 what the educational options are.

What Do Physical Therapists Do?

Lake Havasu City Arizona DPT assisting female patient to walk

Physical therapists work in a variety of settings, such as Lake Havasu City AZ hospitals, health clinics, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and sports facilities. What the facilities all share in common is that they have the equipment for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As previously mentioned, physical therapists help patients that are struggling with a lack of mobility and often pain caused by illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they develop a program of treatment to address the mobility issues and lessen or eradicate any pain. They also endeavor to stop any progression of the disability. While the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Car or motor cycle accidents
  • Head injuries
  • Heart attacks
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Fire injuries
  • Hip Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists practice in close affiliation with other Lake Havasu City AZ medical specialists, including doctors, chiropractors, dentists and nurses. They may also oversee several physical therapy assistants who work under them assisting with the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. Something to keep in mind for anyone considering going into the physical therapy field, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists routinely lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and stand, crouch and kneel for long periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degrees

Lake Havasu City Arizona DPT working with patient in pool

There are three physical therapist degrees available for individuals to enroll in at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these options, the single degree that is attainable that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees concentrate on either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or prepping them to progress to the doctoral level. Following are brief summaries of degree levels that are available to prospective students in the Lake Havasu City AZ area:

  • Associate Degrees prepare students to be physical therapy assistants, or can be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Applicants must have obtained a high school diploma or GED to be accepted for enrollment. The degrees are usually offered by junior or community colleges, and require two years to complete. An internship or other form of clinical training is usually a component of the course of study.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapist training to prep students to progress to the doctoral level. While they are not a requirement to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an integral initial step to practicing as a PT. Similar to the majority of bachelor's degrees, they generally take four years to complete 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 three years to complete, making the total commitment seven years in the majority of cases. Clinical training is an intregal component along with the considerable classroom and lab instruction. Therefor the fulfillment of an internship is required, not solely for graduation but in a number of states for licensing as well.

The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) has replaced the Master's of Physical Therapy (MPT), which has been eliminated and is no longer offered in the United States. A number of practicing physical therapists having a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the existing licensing requirement for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapist Schools Online

Lake Havasu City Arizona woman taking physical therapist classes onlineAlthough not as prevalent as the on-campus options, there are some accredited online physical therapist degrees available, even more at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on nature 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 part of the curriculum may be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Lake Havasu City AZ residence. Online schools are not only to some extent more accessible, but in many cases more affordable. Tuition can be significantly lower than comparable on campus alternatives, and costs for commuting are reduced. And many of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These advantages can make the online option the best choice for those students that are disciplined enough to attend classes at home.

Topics to Ask Physical Therapy Schools

By now you most likely have come to decision regarding several of your preliminary questions, like the kind of physical therapy degree you would like to earn, where you want to attend classes, and how much you can afford to spend for your education. But because there are numerous PT colleges within the Lake Havasu City AZ area and throughout Arizona, you'll need to explore additional qualifications as well so as to further narrow your list of school options. Furthermore, you want to be sure that you select the college that is best for you. That's why we have collected a list of critical questions that you must ask the physical therapist colleges you are thinking about. Ask each of the potential schools these questions before making a final decision.

Is the Physical Therapist Program Accredited?  Find out if the programs you are looking at have earned accreditation from a national or a regional organization. As previously 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 program, it may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's essential that both the physical therapist school and program you enroll in are accredited, not simply the school. Also, check that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Besides ensuring that you obtain a quality education, accreditation might be mandated for state licensing as well as for securing student loans or financial assistance.

What is the Program's Reputation? Along with accreditation, it's important that the college and program you pick have outstanding reputations within the physical therapy community. There are multiple ways you can investigate a PT program's reputation, starting with requesting references from employers that they refer their students to. You can also check online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. Call some Lake Havasu City AZ physical therapist clinics or other health care facilities that you might be interested 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 see if any complaints have been submitted against the colleges.

What is the Program's Job Placement Percentage? There are a couple of significant statistics that you should find out about all of the physical therapist colleges you are considering. First is their graduation rate. A lower rate may indicate that students dropped out because of 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 college's job placement program, particularly in the Lake Havasu City AZ area? If a school has a higher job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the medical care field is good or perhaps exceptional. It also verifies that the college has a broad network of contacts to assist students gain internships or employment after graduation.

Does the College Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the college you choose furnishes both superior training and a course of study that supports the licensing requirements for Arizona or the state where you will be practicing. In each state a passing score is needed on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) as well as a degree from an accredited physical therapist program. While licensing requirements vary state by state for PT and PTA graduates, a number of states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be completed as well as passing scores on additional tests.

Are Internship Programs Sponsored? Inquire if the physical therapist programs you are evaluating have partnerships with Lake Havasu City AZ clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships an excellent way to obtain practical training in a clinical environment, they are additionally a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they may assist students and graduates develop professional relationships in the Lake Havasu City medical community and help with obtaining employment once licensed.

How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of person that likes to sit way in the rear of class or get lost in the crowd, you will probably want a smaller class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapist colleges you are reviewing 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 talk with a few of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapy program as well.

Where is the School Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapist school they select will need to be within commuting distance of their Lake Havasu City AZ home. Individuals who have chosen to attend classes online 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 consider is that if you choose to enroll in a program that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges typically 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 Aid Provided? Most DPT schools supply some form of financial support to their prospective students. Find out if the colleges you are examining have a financial assistance office and see what kind of help is obtainable. At a minimum they should help in getting a student loan or any scholarships you may be eligible for. Some physical therapist colleges offer scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before eliminating a school because the tuition is beyond your budget, learn what financial aid might be available.

Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to verify that the physical therapist school you ultimately select can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you decide to continue working while attending classes. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Lake Havasu City AZ area, verify that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, find out if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would have to enroll in. Also, learn what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss due to work, illness or family obligations.

Learn More About Lake Havasu City Physical Therapist Schools

Choose the Right Lake Havasu City Physical Therapy School

Selecting the ideal physical therapy school is a necessary first decision you need to make to start a rewarding career in the health care field. As we have discussed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and college you enroll in should both have excellent reputations and accreditation. But there are additional important questions that you need to ask pertaining to your college of choice also. As you start your search for a physical therapist college keep in mind that numerous variables will guide you to your final decision. You may want to visit each of the campuses to see their facilities and talk to current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this program help me realize my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By following our list of supplemental questions, you will be able to narrow down the field so you can make the right choice. And with the necessary training and education, you can achieve your dream of becoming a practicing physical therapist in Lake Havasu City Arizona.


 

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