How to Enroll In the Right Physical Therapy Training Program Near Laveen Arizona
Earning a physical therapy degree near Laveen AZ is an essential first step to beginning a rewarding career in the medical care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been disabled as a result of injury or illness gain back function and mobility. But before they can practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they must get the proper education and training. A PT must also be licensed in every state, many mandating that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So prior to enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's necessary to research the ones you are thinking about to make certain they will supply a superior education and satisfy your state's licensing criteria. What you do not want to 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 important qualifications that must be considered along with cost and location. But before we discuss what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, we'll address what a physical therapist does and the options for education.
What Does a Physical Therapist Do?
Physical therapists practice in a variety of locations, including Laveen AZ private practices, hospitals, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and health clubs. What the facilities all have in common is that they are equipped for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As earlier stated, physical therapists help individuals that are experiencing a lack of mobility and in many cases pain caused by illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they design a course of treatment to resolve the mobility problems and lessen or eliminate any pain. They also strive to stop any progression of the disability. Although the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are abundant, they include:
- Osteoporosis and Arthritis
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Cardiac arrest
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Fire injuries
- Knee Replacement
- Multiple Sclerosis
Licensed physical therapists practice in close affiliation with other Laveen AZ medical specialists, including chiropractors, physicians, dentists and nurses. They may also oversee one or more 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 getting into the physical therapy profession, it is rather 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 Degree Options
There are 3 physical therapy degrees available for students to enroll in at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these options, the only degree that is offered 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 readying them to advance to the doctoral level. Below are short summaries of degrees that are offered to prospective students in the Laveen AZ area:
- Associate Degrees educate students to become physical therapy assistants, or can be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Candidates must have earned a high school diploma or GED to qualify for enrollment. The degrees are typically made available by community colleges, and require two years to complete. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is normally part of the course of study.
- Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapy education to prep students to advance to the doctoral level. While they are not a requirement to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an integral preliminary step to practicing as a PT. Similar to most bachelor's degrees, they typically take four years to finish and often include an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
- Doctorate Degrees are a requirement if you want 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 complete, making the overall investment of time seven years in most cases. Practical or clinical training is an important element in addition to the extensive lab and classroom instruction. Consequently the completion of an internship is mandated, not only 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 phased out and is no longer attainable in the United States. Some licensed physical therapists having a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the current licensing mandate for a doctorate was implemented.
Physical Therapist Online Colleges
While not as common as the more traditional alternatives, there are a number of accredited online physical therapy degrees offered, more so at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on nature of the training, clinical lab work and internships are incorporated with the online classes. This requires that the student live near the college campus or nearby a sponsored internship. However, the online part of the course of study may be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Laveen AZ residence. Online programs are not only to some extent more accessible, but in many instances more economical. Tuition may be significantly less than comparable on campus alternatives, and costs for commuting are reduced. And many of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These advantages can make the online option the right choice for those students that are motivated enough to attend classes at home.
Questions to Ask Physical Therapy Colleges
At this point you undoubtedly have made a decision concerning several of your initial queries, including the type of physical therapist 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 so many PT schools within the Laveen AZ area and across Arizona, you'll need to explore other qualifications as well so as to further narrow your list of college options. Moreover, you need to make certain that you pick the college that is best for you. That's the reason we have compiled a list of important questions that you must ask the physical therapist schools you are considering. Ask all of the potential colleges these questions prior to making a final decision.
Is the Physical Therapist Program Accredited? Find out if the programs you are reviewing have received accreditation from a national or a regional organization. As previously 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 program, it can also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's important that both the physical therapist school and program you select are accredited, not just the school. Additionally, verify that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. In addition to ensuring that you receive an excellent education, accreditation might be mandated for state licensing as well as for securing student loans or financial aid.
What is the Program's Reputation? Along with accreditation, it's imperative that the college and program you choose have exceptional reputations within the physical therapist profession. There are several ways you can look into a PT college'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. Call some Laveen AZ physical therapist clinics or other healthcare facilities that you may be interested in working for and ask if they can offer any advice about your college selections. It might also be prudent to check with the Arizona Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been filed against the schools.
What is the School's Job Placement Rate? There are a couple of relevant statistics that you should know about all of the physical therapy schools you are considering. One is their graduation rate. A low rate might indicate that students left because of displeasure with the program, the instructors, or both. Once the students have graduated, how many of them are being hired with the help 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 healthcare field is good or even excellent. It also confirms that the school has a wide network of contacts to help students get internships or employment upon graduation.
Does the College Support Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the school you choose provides both excellent training and a curriculum that supports the licensing requirements 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) as well as a degree from an accredited physical therapy college. While licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PT and PTA graduates, some states require a minimum number of clinical hours be performed and passing scores on supplemental tests.
Are Internships Offered? Find out if the physical therapist colleges you are interested in have partnerships with Laveen AZ clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only a great manner to get hands on experience in a clinical environment, they are also a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they may assist students and graduates form professional relationships in the Laveen health care community and assist with job placement after licensing.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of student that prefers to sit far in the rear of class or get lost in the crowd, you will probably want a smaller class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapy schools you are reviewing what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you a chance to talk with several of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the physical therapist program as well.
Where is the School Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapy college they choose will have to be within travelling distance of their Laveen AZ residence. Those who have decided to attend classes online obviously will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of importance. One thing to consider is that if you decide to enroll in a school that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges commonly charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges commonly charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Most DPT schools supply some type of financial support to their prospective students. Find out if the schools you are looking at have a financial assistance office and find out what type of aid is obtainable. At a minimum they should help in securing a student loan or any scholarships you might be eligible for. Some physical therapist colleges offer scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before eliminating a program 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 school you finally choose can provide the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you choose to continue working while attending classes. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Laveen AZ area, make sure that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, find out if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would have to enroll in. Also, learn what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Laveen Physical Therapist School
Selecting the best physical therapy school is an important initial decision you have to make to launch a gratifying career in the healthcare field. As we have discussed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and school you enroll in should both have outstanding reputations and accreditation. However there are other important questions that you need to ask concerning your school of choice also. As you begin your search for a physical therapist school bear in mind that many factors will lead you to your final decision. You may want to go to different colleges to view their facilities and talk to current 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 adhering to our list of supplemental questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the options so you can make the ideal choice. And with the necessary education and training, you can achieve your dream to become a licensed physical therapist in Laveen Arizona.