How to Pick the Right Physical Therapist Training Program Near Laveen Arizona
Earning a physical therapy degree near Laveen AZ is a critical first step to starting a fulfilling career in the healthcare field. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been incapacitated as a result of injury or illness regain function and mobility. But before they may legally practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they must obtain the appropriate training and education. A PT must additionally be licensed in every state, many requiring that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So prior to enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's essential to evaluate the ones you are looking at to ensure they will provide a quality education and comply with your state's licensing criteria. What you should not do is choose a school simply because it happens to be the closest to your residence or it has the lowest tuition. There are other significant qualifications that must be evaluated along with location and cost. But before we talk about what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, we'll cover what a physical therapist does and the options for education.
What is a Physical Therapist's Job Description?
Physical therapists practice in a variety of settings, such as Laveen AZ private practices, hospitals, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and health clubs. What the facilities all have in common is that they have the equipment for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As earlier touched on, physical therapists help people that are struggling with a lack of mobility and in many cases pain due to illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they develop a program of treatment to resolve the mobility problems and reduce or eliminate any pain. They also strive to prevent any advancement of the disability. While the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are numerous, they include:
- Arthritis or Osteoporosis
- Car or motor cycle accidents
- Cardiac arrest
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Fire injuries
- Knee Replacement
- Multiple Sclerosis
Licensed physical therapists practice in close association with other Laveen AZ medical specialists, including doctors, chiropractors, dentists and nurses. They can also supervise one or more physical therapy assistants who work under them in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. One thing to take note of for anyone considering entering the physical therapy profession, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists often lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and stand, crouch and kneel for long periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapist Degrees
There are three physical therapy degree options offered for students to pursue at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these options, the one degree that is available 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 advance to the doctoral level. Following are short summaries of degrees that are offered to prospective students in the Laveen AZ area:
- Associate Degrees train students to become physical therapy assistants, or may be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Candidates must have earned a high school diploma or equivalent to be accepted for enrollment. The degrees are usually offered by community or junior colleges, and take about 2 years for completion. An internship or other form of clinical training is typically a portion of the course of study.
- Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapist education to ready candidates to advance to the doctoral level. Although they are not required to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an important preliminary step to becoming a PT. As with the majority of bachelor's degrees, they generally require 4 years to finish and commonly include an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
- Doctorate Degrees are mandated 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 three years to finish, making the overall commitment 7 years in the majority of cases. Clinical training is an essential element along with the substantial classroom and lab instruction. Consequently the fulfillment of an internship is required, not just for graduation but in several states for licensing also.
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 offered in the United States. A number of practicing physical therapists having a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the current licensing mandate for a doctorate was instituted.
Physical Therapy Schools Online
Although not as prevalent as the on-campus alternatives, there are many accredited online physical therapist degrees offered, more so at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on nature 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 in proximity of an available internship. Fortunately, the online part of the program may be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Laveen AZ home. Online schools are not only partially more accessible, but in many instances more affordable. Tuition can be significantly less than similar on-campus options, and costs for commuting are minimized. And a number of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These benefits may make the online alternative the best choice for those students that are disciplined enough to attend classes at home.
Questions to Ask Physical Therapy Schools
At this point you probably have come to decision regarding some of your initial questions, such as the type of physical therapy degree you intend to attain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to invest in your education. But considering there are numerous PT colleges within the Laveen AZ area and throughout Arizona, you'll need to look into additional qualifications also in order to further reduce your list of college choices. Also, you need to make certain that you pick the college that is best for you. That's why we have collected a list of critical questions that you need to ask the physical therapist programs you are thinking about. Ask each of the competing schools these questions prior to making an ultimate decision.
Is the Physical Therapy School Accredited? Ask if the colleges you are considering have received accreditation from a regional or a national 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 select an online college, it can also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's essential that both the physical therapy program and school you enroll in are accredited, not just the school. Also, verify that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Besides guaranteeing that you obtain a quality education, accreditation may be required for state licensing as well as for securing student loans or financial assistance.
What is the School's Reputation? Along with accreditation, it's important that the school and program you select have excellent reputations within the physical therapy profession. There are multiple ways you can investigate a PT school's reputation, starting with asking for references from employers that they place their graduates with. You can also search for online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. Contact a few Laveen AZ physical therapy clinics or other healthcare facilities that you may have an interest in working for and ask if they can give you any advice about your college selections. It may also be prudent to contact the Arizona Attorney General and school licensing authority to find out if any complaints have been submitted against the colleges.
What is the College's Job Placement Percentage? There are a two significant statistics that you need to know about each of the physical therapy colleges you are considering. One is their graduation rate. A lower rate might mean that students dropped out because of dissatisfaction with the program, the instructors, or both. Once the students have graduated, how many of them are being placed in jobs with the assistance of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Laveen AZ area? If a school has a high job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the health care field is good or even excellent. It also verifies that the college has a large network of contacts to help students get internships or jobs after 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 criteria 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) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapy college. While licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PTA and PT graduates, some states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be performed and passing scores on supplemental exams.
Are Internships Offered? Ask if the physical therapist colleges you are assessing have partnerships with Laveen AZ hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific way to obtain hands on training in a clinical setting, they are additionally a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they can help students and graduates establish professional relationships in the Laveen healthcare community and assist with obtaining employment after licensing.
What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the kind of student that likes 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 therapist colleges you are reviewing what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you a chance to converse with several of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapist program also.
Where is the Program Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapist school they pick will have to be within commuting distance of their Laveen AZ residence. Those who have opted to attend online classes obviously will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. One thing to bear in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a program 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 generally charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Most DPT colleges supply some type of financial assistance to their potential students. Ask if the colleges you are looking at have a financial assistance department and see what type of assistance is available. They at least should help in obtaining a student loan or any scholarships you may be eligible for. A number of physical therapy schools offer scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before you eliminate a school because the tuition is beyond your budget, learn what financial assistance might be available.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must verify that the physical therapist college you finally pick can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you decide to continue working while you attend classes. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Laveen AZ area, check that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, find out if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would have to enroll in. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss due to work, illness or family obligations.
Choose the Right Laveen Physical Therapy School
Choosing the right physical therapy school is a necessary initial decision you must make to launch a gratifying career in the medical field. As we have addressed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and college you decide on should both have exceptional reputations and be accredited. However there are other critical questions that you need to ask regarding your college of choice as well. As you begin your search for a physical therapist program bear in mind that numerous factors will guide you to your ultimate decision. You may want to go to different colleges to view their facilities and speak to current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this college help me accomplish my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By following our list of supplemental questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the field so you can make the ideal selection. And with the necessary education and training, you can accomplish your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in Laveen Arizona.