How to Select the Right Physical Therapist Degree Program Near Lake Montezuma Arizona
Obtaining a physical therapy degree near Lake Montezuma AZ is a critical first step to starting a fulfilling career in the medical care field. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been disabled due to illness or injury gain back function and mobility. But before they can practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they must obtain the appropriate education and training. A PT must additionally be licensed in all states, many mandating that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So prior to choosing a physical therapy school, it's essential to investigate those you are looking at to make sure they will furnish a superior education and comply with your state's licensing standards. What you do not want to do is enroll in a school simply because it happens to be the nearest to your residence or it has the lowest tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that need to be considered in addition to location and cost. But before we talk about what those qualifications are and the questions you should be asking, we'll cover what a physical therapist does and the options for education.
What Do Physical Therapists Do?
Physical therapists practice in a variety of locations, including Lake Montezuma AZ private practices, hospitals, 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 touched on, physical therapists help patients that are suffering from a lack of mobility and in many cases pain caused by illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they create a course of treatment to address the mobility issues and reduce or eliminate any pain. They also endeavor to stop any advancement of the disability. Although the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are numerous, they include:
- Arthritis or Osteoporosis
- Car or motor cycle accidents
- Cardiac arrest
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Burn injuries
- Hip Replacement
- Cerebral Palsy
Licensed physical therapists work in close affiliation with other Lake Montezuma AZ health specialists, including doctors, chiropractors, dentists and nurses. They may also supervise several physical therapy assistants who work for them assisting with diagnosing and treating their patients. Something to keep in mind for anyone considering getting into the physical therapy field, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and stand, crouch and kneel for long periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapy Degree Options
There are 3 physical therapist degrees offered for individuals to enroll in at the undergraduate and graduate 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 progress to the doctoral level. Below are brief explanations of degree levels that are available to prospective students in the Lake Montezuma AZ area:
- Associate Degrees prepare students to practice as physical therapy assistants, or can be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Candidates must have earned a high school diploma or GED to qualify for enrollment. The programs are usually made available by community or junior colleges, and require 2 years for completion. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is usually a portion of the program.
- Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapist education to prep students to advance to the doctoral level. Although they are not required to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an integral first step to practicing as a PT. Similar to most bachelor's degrees, they typically take 4 years to complete and usually incorporate an internship program of at least 500 hours.
- Doctorate Degrees are a requirement 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). In addition to the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes 3 years to complete, making the total investment of time 7 years in most cases. Practical or clinical training is an important element along with the considerable lab and classroom instruction. Therefor the fulfillment of an internship is mandated, not just for graduation but in a number of states for licensing also.
The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) has replaced the Master's of Physical Therapy (MPT), which has been phased out and is no longer attainable in the United States. Some practicing physical therapists having a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the present licensing requirement for a doctorate was implemented.
Physical Therapy Online Schools
Although not as common as the more traditional alternatives, there are a number of accredited online physical therapy programs available, more so at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on structure of the training, clinical lab work and internships are integrated with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live near the college campus or in proximity of a sponsored internship. Fortunately, the online portion of the program can be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Lake Montezuma AZ home. Online schools are not only partially more accessible, but in many instances more economical. Tuition might be somewhat lower than comparable on campus options, and expenditures for commuting are reduced. And a number of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These benefits can make the online alternative the ideal choice for those students that are dedicated enough to learn at home.
Subjects to Ask Physical Therapy Programs
By now you undoubtedly have made a decision concerning a few of your preliminary queries, including the kind of physical therapist degree you intend to obtain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much you can afford to invest in your education. But since there are so many PT schools within the Lake Montezuma AZ area and throughout Arizona, you'll have to explore additional qualifications as well so as to further reduce your list of school options. Also, you need to make certain that you enroll in the college that is right for you. That's why we have put together a list of essential questions that you need to ask the physical therapist colleges you are reviewing. Ask each of the competing schools these questions prior to making a final selection.
Is the Physical Therapist School Accredited? Find out if the programs you are looking at have received accreditation from a national or a regional 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 school, it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapy program and school you choose are accredited, not simply the school. Also, make sure that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Along with ensuring that you receive a quality education, accreditation may 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 choose have excellent reputations within the physical therapist profession. There are multiple ways you can investigate a PT college's reputation, beginning with requesting references from employers that they place their graduates with. You can also check online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. Contact a few Lake Montezuma AZ physical therapy clinics or other medical care facilities that you may be interested in working for and ask if they can provide any advice about your school selections. It may also be a good idea to contact the Arizona Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been submitted against the schools.
What is the School's Job Placement Percentage? There are a two important statistics that you need to find out about each of the physical therapist colleges you are looking at. First is their graduation rate. A low rate may indicate that students dropped out because of dissatisfaction with the program, the teachers, or both. After the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being placed in jobs with the help of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Lake Montezuma AZ area? If a program has a high job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the healthcare community is good or perhaps exceptional. It also affirms that the school has a wide network of contacts to assist students get internships or employment upon graduation.
Does the School Support Licensing Requirements? It's important that the school you select furnishes both excellent training and a course of study that supports the licensing criteria for Arizona or the state where you will be working. In each state a passing score is needed on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapist program. While licensing requirements vary state by state for PT and PTA graduates, some states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be completed and passing scores on supplemental exams.
Are Internship Programs Sponsored? Find out if the physical therapy schools you are reviewing have relationships with Lake Montezuma AZ hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships an excellent way to receive hands on 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 establish professional connections in the Lake Montezuma healthcare community and help with obtaining employment once licensed.
What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the type of person that likes to sit way in the rear of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a smaller class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapy colleges you are looking at what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to sit in on one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you a chance to talk with a few of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapist program also.
Where is the College Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapist school they pick will have to be within commuting distance of their Lake Montezuma AZ home. Those who have chosen 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 concern. Something to consider is that if you decide to enroll in a college 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 often charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.
Is Financial Support Provided? Most DPT schools provide some type of financial assistance to their prospective students. Ask if the colleges you are reviewing have a financial aid office and see what kind of help is available. At a minimum they should help in acquiring a student loan or any scholarships you might be eligible for. A number of physical therapist schools provide scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before you eliminate a school because the tuition is too expensive, ask what financial aid might be available.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must verify that the physical therapy college you finally choose can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you choose to continue working while attending school. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Lake Montezuma AZ area, check 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, find out what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss due to illness, work or family obligations.
Enroll in the Best Lake Montezuma Physical Therapy School
Selecting the right physical therapist program is a necessary first decision you must make to start a gratifying career in the medical profession. As we have discussed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and college you enroll in should both have exceptional reputations and accreditation. However there are additional important questions that you should ask regarding your college of choice as well. As you commence your search for a physical therapy program keep in mind that numerous variables will lead you toward your final decision. You may want to go to different schools to see their facilities and speak with active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this college help me achieve my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By adhering to our list of additional questions, you will be able to narrow down the options so you can make the right selection. And with the proper education and training, you can achieve your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in Lake Montezuma Arizona.