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How to Find the Right Physical Therapist Program Near Lake Montezuma Arizona

Lake Montezuma Arizona physical therapist working with female patient using exercise ballGetting a physical therapy degree near Lake Montezuma AZ is an essential first step to starting a fulfilling career in the medical care field. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been incapacitated as a result of injury or illness gain back mobility and function. But before they can practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they need to receive the proper education and training. A PT must also be licensed in every state, a large number mandating that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So before choosing a physical therapy school, it's necessary to evaluate those you are considering to make certain they will deliver 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 cheapest tuition. There are other important qualifications that need to be evaluated in addition to location and cost. But before we talk about what those qualifications are and the questions you should be asking, we'll address what a physical therapist does and what the educational options are.

What Does a Physical Therapist Do?

Lake Montezuma Arizona DPT helping woman to walk

Physical therapists work in diverse locations, including Lake Montezuma AZ hospitals, health clinics, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and health clubs. What the facilities all have in common is that they have the equipment for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As previously stated, physical therapists help patients that are struggling with a lack of mobility and frequently pain due to illness or injury. After patient diagnosis, they develop a course of treatment to resolve the mobility problems and reduce or eliminate any pain. They also strive to prevent any progression of the disability. While the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are abundant, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Head injuries
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Sports injuries
  • Fire injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists work in close partnerships with other Lake Montezuma AZ health specialists, including doctors, chiropractors, registered nurses and dentists. They can also manage several physical therapy assistants who work for them in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. Something to take note of for anyone considering entering the physical therapy profession, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists often lift patients and heavy equipment, and kneel, crouch and stand for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degree Options

Lake Montezuma Arizona DPT working with man in pool

There are 3 physical therapy degree options offered for individuals to pursue 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 target either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or preparing them to advance to the doctoral level. Below are short summaries of degrees that are offered to prospective students in the Lake Montezuma AZ area:

  • Associate Degrees train students to be physical therapy assistants, or may be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Applicants must have a high school diploma or GED to qualify for enrollment. The degrees are usually made available by junior or community colleges, and require two years for completion. An internship or other form of clinical training is normally a portion of the course of study.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapy training to prepare students to move up to the doctoral level. While they are not a requirement to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an essential first step to becoming a PT. Similar to the majority of bachelor's degrees, they normally take four years to finish and commonly include an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are required in order to become a licensed practicing physical therapist. The degree program also must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). After earning the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes 3 years to complete, making the total investment of time seven years in most cases. Practical or clinical training is an essential element along with the considerable lab and classroom instruction. Therefor the completion of an internship is mandated, not solely for graduation but in some states for licensing as well.

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 available in the USA. Some licensed 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 Therapy Online Programs

Lake Montezuma Arizona woman taking physical therapist training onlineWhile not as common as the on campus options, there are a number of accredited online physical therapist programs available, even more at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on structure of the training, clinical lab work and internships are incorporated with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live near the college campus or nearby an available internship. Fortunately, the online part of the program can be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Lake Montezuma AZ home. Online schools are not only to some extent more accessible, but in a number of instances more economical. Tuition might be somewhat less than comparable on-campus alternatives, and expenditures for commuting are reduced. And a number of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These advantages may make the online alternative the right choice for those students that are motivated enough to learn at home.

Questions to Ask Physical Therapist Schools

At this point you most likely have made a decision concerning some of your preliminary queries, such as the type of physical therapist degree you intend to earn, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much you can afford to spend for your education. But since there are numerous PT schools within the Lake Montezuma AZ area and across Arizona, you'll need to research other qualifications also in order to further narrow your list of school choices. Also, you want to be sure that you select the school that is best for you. That's the reason we have compiled a list of important questions that you need to ask the physical therapy programs you are thinking about. Ask all of the potential schools these questions prior to making an ultimate decision.

Is the Physical Therapy College Accredited?  Find out if the colleges you are reviewing have received accreditation from a national or a regional agency. As earlier stated, if you are pursuing a doctoral degree the program must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). If you choose an online school, it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's important that both the physical therapist school and program you choose are accredited, not just the school. Also, make sure that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Besides guaranteeing that you obtain a quality education, accreditation might be required for state licensing as well as for getting student loans or financial aid.

What is the College's Standing? Along with accreditation, it's essential that the school and program you pick have excellent 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 search for online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. Contact several Lake Montezuma AZ physical therapy centers or other health care facilities that you might have an interest in working for and ask if they can offer any insight about your program options. It may also be prudent to check with the Arizona Attorney General and school licensing authority to find out if any complaints have been submitted against the schools.

What is the School's Job Placement Percentage? There are a two useful statistics that you should know about all of the physical therapist schools you are reviewing. One is their graduation rate. A lower rate might indicate that students left due to displeasure with the program, the instructors, or both. Once the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being hired with the support of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Lake Montezuma 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 perhaps exceptional. It also verifies that the program has a large network of contacts to assist students obtain internships or employment upon graduation.

Does the School Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the college you select furnishes both excellent training and a course of study that supports the licensing requirements for Arizona or the state where you will be working. In every state a passing score is required on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) as well as a degree from an accredited physical therapy college. Although licensing requirements differ state by state for PT and PTA graduates, a number of states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be completed and passing scores on supplemental exams.

Are Internships Offered? Ask if the physical therapy colleges you are reviewing have associations with Lake Montezuma AZ hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only a great means to receive hands on experience in a clinical setting, they are also a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they can help students and graduates develop professional relationships in the Lake Montezuma medical community and help with obtaining employment once licensed.

What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the sort of student that prefers to sit far in the back of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will likely prefer a small class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapy colleges you are researching what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you a chance to talk with a few of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapist program as well.

Where is the College Located? For a number of students, the physical therapist school they choose will have to be within commuting distance of their Lake Montezuma AZ residence. Students who have decided to attend classes online naturally will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. Something to bear 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 be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges generally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges normally charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.

Is Financial Assistance Provided? The majority of DPT schools provide some form of financial support to their potential students. Inquire if the schools you are looking at have a financial assistance office and see what type of aid is obtainable. At a minimum they should help in obtaining a student loan or any grants you may be eligible for. A number of physical therapy colleges provide scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before eliminating a college because the tuition is beyond your budget, ask what financial aid may be available.

Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to confirm that the physical therapy school you finally select can provide the class schedule you need. This is particularly essential if you choose to continue working while you attend classes. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Lake Montezuma AZ area, confirm that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would need to carry. Also, find out what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss because of work, illness or family obligations.

Learn More About Lake Montezuma Physical Therapy Training

Choose the Best Lake Montezuma Physical Therapist School

Selecting the ideal physical therapy school is a necessary first decision you must make to start a rewarding career in the health care profession. As we have addressed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and college you decide on should both have exceptional reputations and be accredited. But there are additional critical questions that you should ask regarding your school of choice as well. As you begin your search for a physical therapy college keep in mind that many factors will lead you to your ultimate decision. You may decide 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 reach my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By following our list of supplemental 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 achieve your dream of becoming a licensed physical therapist in Lake Montezuma Arizona.


 

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