How to Pick the Right Physical Therapist Training Program Near Laveen Arizona
Receiving a physical therapy degree near Laveen AZ is a critical first step to launching a rewarding career in the healthcare field. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals 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 get the necessary training and education. A PT must additionally become licensed in all states, many mandating that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So before selecting a physical therapy school, it's essential to evaluate the ones you are thinking about to ensure they will supply a quality education and satisfy your state's licensing criteria. What you do not want to do is enroll in a school just because it happens to be the closest to your home or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other significant qualifications that must be evaluated in addition to location and cost. 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 Does a Physical Therapist Do?
Physical therapists practice in varying locations, such as Laveen AZ hospitals, health clinics, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and sports facilities. What the facilities all have in common is that they have the equipment for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As previously mentioned, physical therapists help people that are experiencing a lack of mobility and often pain caused by illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they create a program of treatment to resolve the mobility issues and reduce or eliminate any pain. They also strive to prevent any progression of the disability. Although the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are numerous, they include:
- Osteoporosis and Arthritis
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Head injuries
- Heart attacks
- Sports injuries
- Burn injuries
- Knee Replacement
- Multiple Sclerosis
Licensed physical therapists work in close partnerships with other Laveen AZ health professionals, including doctors, chiropractors, registered nurses and dentists. They may also manage one or more physical therapy assistants who work for them assisting with diagnosing and treating their patients. Something to bear in mind for anyone considering entering the physical therapy profession, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and stand, crouch and kneel for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapist Degree Options
There are 3 physical therapy degree options offered for individuals to enroll in at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these alternatives, the one degree that is attainable that qualifies the graduate to become 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. Below are short explanations of degree levels that are offered to prospective students in the Laveen AZ area:
- Associate Degrees prepare students to become physical therapy assistants, or can be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Applicants must have a high school diploma or GED to qualify for enrollment. The programs are usually offered by junior or community colleges, and take about two years for completion. An internship or other form of clinical training is usually part of the curriculum.
- Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapist training to prep students to advance to the doctoral level. Although they are not required to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an essential preliminary step to becoming a PT. Similar to most bachelor's degrees, they typically require four 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 practicing licensed 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 commitment seven years in the majority of cases. Clinical or practical training is an important component in addition to the considerable lab and classroom instruction. Consequently the fulfillment of an internship is required, not solely for graduation but in several states for licensing also.
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. Some licensed physical therapists having a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the current licensing mandate for a doctorate was implemented.
Physical Therapist Programs Online
While not as common as the on campus alternatives, there are a number of accredited online physical therapist degrees offered, more so at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on structure of the training, clinical lab work and internships are combined with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live near the school campus or in proximity of a sponsored internship. However, the online portion of the program may be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Laveen AZ residence. Online schools are not only partially more accessible, but in a number of instances more affordable. Tuition might be significantly lower than similar on-campus options, and expenditures for commuting are reduced. And many of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These benefits may make the online alternative the ideal choice for those students that are disciplined enough to attend classes at home.
Subjects to Ask Physical Therapy Colleges
At this point you undoubtedly have come to decision concerning several of your initial queries, like the type of physical therapy degree you would like to earn, where you want to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to invest in your education. But since there are so many PT schools within the Laveen AZ area and throughout Arizona, you'll need to explore additional qualifications also so as to further reduce your list of college options. Also, you want to be sure that you pick the program that is best for you. That's why we have put together a list of important questions that you must ask the physical therapist programs you are reviewing. Ask all of the potential colleges these questions before making a final selection.
Is the Physical Therapist School Accredited? Find out if the programs you are considering have received accreditation from a national or a regional agency. As earlier 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 school, it may also receive 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, check that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. In addition to ensuring that you obtain a quality education, accreditation might be required for state licensing as well as for getting student loans or financial assistance.
What is the College's Ranking? In addition to accreditation, it's imperative that the school and program you pick have exceptional reputations within the physical therapist community. There are multiple ways you can look into a PT program's reputation, starting with requesting references from employers that they place their graduates with. You can also check online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Contact a few Laveen AZ physical therapy centers or other medical care facilities that you might have an interest in working for and ask if they can give you any advice about your college options. It might 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 College's Job Placement Percentage? There are a couple of important statistics that you need to find out about each of the physical therapy programs you are looking at. One is their graduation rate. A low rate may mean that students left 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 support of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Laveen AZ area? If a program has a high job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the medical care field is good or even excellent. It also confirms that the program has a broad network of contacts to assist students obtain internships or employment upon graduation.
Does the College Support Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the school 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 practicing. In every state a passing score is needed on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapist school. While licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PTA and PT graduates, a number of states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be performed as well as passing scores on additional tests.
Are Internship Programs Offered? Inquire if the physical therapy programs you are assessing have relationships with Laveen AZ clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships an excellent means to receive hands on training in a clinical environment, they are also a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they may help students and graduates establish professional relationships in the Laveen medical community and assist with job placement once licensed.
How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of student that likes to sit way in the back of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will likely want a smaller class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapy schools you are looking at what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you an opportunity to talk with some of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapy program also.
Where is the Program Located? For a number of students, the physical therapy school they decide on will need to be within commuting distance of their Laveen AZ home. Individuals who have decided to attend classes online naturally will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. One thing to bear in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a program that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you may be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges usually charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges usually charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.
Is Financial Help Offered? The majority of DPT colleges offer some form of financial aid to their prospective students. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have a financial assistance department and find out what kind of aid is offered. At a minimum they should help in acquiring a student loan or any scholarships you might be eligible for. Some physical therapy colleges provide scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before you eliminate a college because the tuition is beyond your budget, ask what financial aid might be available.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to verify that the physical therapy program you finally choose can provide the class schedule you need. This is particularly essential if you decide to continue working while you attend school. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Laveen 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 carry. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss because of work, illness or family obligations.
Choose the Right Laveen Physical Therapist School
Selecting the best physical therapist program is an important initial decision you must make to start a fulfilling career in the medical field. As we have covered in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and college you pick should both have exceptional reputations and accreditation. But there are other important questions that you should ask regarding your school of choice also. As you start your search for a physical therapist school bear in mind that a number of variables will guide you toward your ultimate decision. You might decide to go to different schools to view their facilities and speak to active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this college help me reach my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By following our list of supplemental questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the options so you can make the appropriate selection. And with the necessary education and training, you can accomplish your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in Laveen Arizona.