How to Choose the Right Physical Therapist Degree Program Near Lake Montezuma Arizona
Earning a physical therapist degree near Lake Montezuma AZ is a critical first step to beginning a fulfilling career in the health care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been disabled 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 need to receive the necessary education and training. A PT must also be licensed in all states, a large number mandating that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So prior to selecting a physical therapy school, it's important to evaluate those you are thinking about to make sure they will supply a superior education and comply with your state's licensing requirements. What you do not want to do is choose a college just because it happens to be the nearest to your home or it has cheapest tuition. There are other important qualifications that need to be considered besides location and cost. But before we cover what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, we'll cover what a physical therapist does and what the educational options are.
What Does a Physical Therapist Do?
Physical therapists work in diverse settings, such as Lake Montezuma AZ hospitals, health clinics, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and sports facilities. What the facilities all have in common is that they are equipped for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As previously stated, physical therapists help people that are struggling with a lack of mobility and frequently pain caused by illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they design a course of treatment to resolve the mobility problems and reduce or eradicate any pain. They also try to prevent any advancement of the disability. Though the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are abundant, they include:
- Arthritis or Osteoporosis
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Cardiac arrest
- Sports injuries
- Fire injuries
- Knee Replacement
- Multiple Sclerosis
Licensed physical therapists work in close affiliation with other Lake Montezuma AZ health professionals, including doctors, chiropractors, dentists and nurses. They may also manage several physical therapy assistants who work under them assisting with the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. One thing to take note of for anyone considering going into the physical therapy field, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists routinely lift patients and heavy equipment, and kneel, crouch and stand for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapist Degrees
There are three physical therapy degrees offered for students to enroll in at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these options, the single degree that is attainable that qualifies the graduate to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees focus on either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or prepping them to advance to the doctoral level. Following are short explanations of degree levels that are offered to prospective students in the Lake Montezuma AZ area:
- Associate Degrees train students to become physical therapy assistants, or may be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Candidates must have earned a high school diploma or equivalent to be accepted for enrollment. The programs are typically provided by junior or community colleges, and take about 2 years for completion. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is typically part of the program.
- Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapist training to prep candidates to progress to the doctoral level. While they are not required to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an integral preliminary step to practicing as a PT. As with most bachelor's degrees, they generally take 4 years to complete and often incorporate an internship program of at least 500 hours.
- Doctorate Degrees are required in order to become a practicing licensed 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 finish, making the total commitment 7 years in the majority of cases. Clinical or practical training is an intregal element in addition to the substantial lab and classroom instruction. Consequently the completion of an internship is mandated, not just for graduation but in several states for licensing as well.
The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) has replaced 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 having a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the existing licensing requirement for a doctorate was instituted.
Physical Therapist Schools Online
Although not as prevalent as the on campus alternatives, there are some accredited online physical therapist degrees offered, more so 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 requires that the student live near the college campus or nearby an available internship. However, the online segment of the program may be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Lake Montezuma AZ home. Online programs are not only to some extent more accessible, but in a number of instances more economical. Tuition can be significantly less than similar on campus options, and expenditures for commuting are reduced. And a number of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These benefits can make the online option the best choice for those students that are motivated enough to attend classes at home.
Subjects to Ask Physical Therapy Programs
At this point you most likely have come to decision concerning some of your preliminary queries, including the type of physical therapist degree you want to earn, where you want to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to invest in your education. But since there are numerous PT schools within the Lake Montezuma AZ area and throughout Arizona, you'll need to research other qualifications also in order to further narrow your list of college choices. Moreover, you need to make certain that you select the school that is ideal for you. That's the reason we have put together a list of important questions that you must ask the physical therapy schools you are considering. Ask all of the potential colleges these questions before making an ultimate selection.
Is the Physical Therapy School Accredited? Ask if the schools you are reviewing have received accreditation from a regional or a national organization. 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 college, it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's essential that both the physical therapist program and school you select are accredited, not simply the school. Additionally, verify that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Along with guaranteeing that you obtain an excellent education, accreditation might be mandated for state licensing and even for securing student loans or financial aid.
What is the Program's Reputation? In addition to accreditation, it's important that the college and program you choose have excellent reputations within the physical therapist community. There are several ways you can look into a PT school's reputation, starting with asking for references from employers that they place their graduates with. You can also search for online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Contact several Lake Montezuma AZ physical therapy centers or other health care facilities that you may be interested in working for and ask if they can offer any advice about your school 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 filed against the colleges.
What is the School's Job Placement Rate? There are a couple of useful statistics that you need to find out about all of the physical therapist programs you are looking at. First is their graduation rate. A low rate may indicate that students dropped out due to displeasure with the program, the teachers, 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 Montezuma AZ area? If a school has a higher job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the health care community is good or even exceptional. It also confirms that the school has a broad network of contacts to help students get internships or jobs after graduation.
Does the School Support Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the college you choose furnishes both excellent training and a course of study that satisfies the licensing requirements for Arizona or the state where you will be practicing. In each state a passing score is required on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) in addition to a degree from an accredited physical therapist college. While licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PTA and PT graduates, a number of states require a minimum number of clinical hours be performed and passing scores on additional exams.
Are Internships Provided? Find out if the physical therapy colleges you are evaluating have associations with Lake Montezuma AZ clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only a great way to receive practical experience in a clinical environment, they are also a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they may assist graduates and students establish professional relationships in the Lake Montezuma health care community and assist with obtaining employment once licensed.
How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of person that prefers to sit far in the back of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will probably prefer a small class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapist colleges you are looking at what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you an opportunity to speak with several of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapy program also.
Where is the Program Located? For many students, the physical therapist school they choose will have to be within travelling distance of their Lake Montezuma AZ residence. Students who have opted to attend online classes obviously will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of importance. One thing to keep in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a school that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges commonly charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges often charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? The majority of DPT schools supply some form of financial assistance to their prospective students. Find out if the colleges you are considering have a financial assistance department and find out what type of assistance is available. At a minimum they should help in obtaining a student loan or any grants you may be eligible for. A number of physical therapist schools provide scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before you eliminate a program because the tuition is beyond your budget, find out what financial aid might be available.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to confirm that the physical therapy program you finally pick can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you choose to continue working while attending school. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Lake Montezuma AZ area, make sure that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, find out if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would have to enroll in. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss as a result of illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Best Lake Montezuma Physical Therapy School
Deciding on the best physical therapy college is a necessary initial decision you have to make to start a gratifying career in the health care profession. As we have covered in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and college you enroll in should both have outstanding reputations and be accredited. However there are additional important questions that you should ask concerning your college of choice also. As you commence your search for a physical therapist program bear in mind that a number of factors will guide you to your ultimate decision. You may decide to visit each of the colleges to see their facilities and speak to active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this school help me realize 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 best selection. And with the proper education and training, you can fulfill your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in Lake Montezuma Arizona.