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How to Select the Right Physical Therapy Program Near Laveen Arizona

Laveen Arizona physical therapist working with female patient using exercise ballGetting a physical therapist degree near Laveen AZ is an essential first step to starting a rewarding career in the healthcare industry. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been debilitated as a result of injury or illness regain function and mobility. But before they can practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they need to obtain the proper training and education. A PT must also become licensed in every state, a large number requiring that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So before choosing a physical therapy school, it's necessary to research the ones you are looking at to ensure they will provide a quality education and comply with your state's licensing requirements. What you should not do is enroll in a school simply because it happens to be the closest to your home or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other important qualifications that must be evaluated along with 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 the options for education.

What is a Physical Therapist?

Laveen Arizona DPT assisting female patient to walk

Physical therapists work in a variety of settings, including Laveen AZ hospitals, health clinics, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and sports facilities. What the facilities all share in common is that they are equipped for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As earlier touched on, physical therapists help people that are experiencing a lack of mobility and frequently pain due to illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they design a course of treatment to address the mobility issues and reduce or eliminate any pain. They also try to stop any progression of the disability. Although the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are abundant, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Car or motor cycle accidents
  • Strokes
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Fire injuries
  • Hip Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Cerebral Palsy

Licensed physical therapists practice in close partnerships with other Laveen AZ health specialists, including doctors, chiropractors, dentists and nurses. They may also supervise several physical therapy assistants who work under them in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. Something to bear in mind for anyone thinking about getting into the physical therapy field, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift patients and heavy equipment, and kneel, crouch and stand for long periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degree Options

Laveen Arizona DPT working with patient in pool

There are three physical therapist degrees available for individuals to enroll in at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these choices, the one degree that is available that qualifies the graduate to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees concentrate on either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or readying them to advance to the doctoral level. Following are short descriptions of degrees that are offered to prospective students in the Laveen AZ area:

  • Associate Degrees prepare students to be physical therapy assistants, or can be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Applicants must have earned a high school diploma or equivalent to be accepted for enrollment. The degrees are usually provided by junior or community colleges, and take about two years for completion. An internship or other form of clinical training is usually a portion of the course of study.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapist education to prep candidates to move up to the doctoral level. Although they are not a requirement to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an essential preliminary step to becoming a PT. As with most bachelor's degrees, they normally require four years to finish and often include an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are required if you want to become a licensed practicing physical therapist. The degree program also must 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 finish, making the total investment of time seven years in the majority of cases. Practical or clinical training is an intregal component along with the substantial lab and classroom instruction. Therefor the fulfillment of an internship is mandated, not just for graduation but in a number of states for licensing as well.

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 attainable in the United States. Some licensed physical therapists holding a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the present licensing requirement for a doctorate was instituted.

Physical Therapy Online Degrees

Laveen Arizona female student taking physical therapy classes onlineWhile not as common as the more traditional options, there are a number of accredited online physical therapy programs available, more so at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on nature of the training, clinical lab work and internships are integrated with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live close to the college campus or nearby an available internship. However, the online part of the curriculum may be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Laveen AZ residence. Online schools are not only partially more accessible, but in many instances more affordable. Tuition may be significantly less than similar on-campus options, and costs for commuting are reduced. And a number of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing 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 Schools

By now you probably have come to decision concerning some of your preliminary questions, like the type of physical therapist degree you want to earn, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to invest in your education. But since there are so many PT colleges within the Laveen AZ area and across Arizona, you'll need to look into additional qualifications also so as to further narrow your list of college choices. Also, you want to make certain that you pick the school that is best for you. That's the reason we have put together a list of essential questions that you need to ask the physical therapist schools you are thinking about. Ask all of the potential schools these questions before making an ultimate decision.

Is the Physical Therapy Program Accredited?  Ask if the schools you are considering have received accreditation from a national or a regional agency. 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 college, it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's essential that both the physical therapist school and program you select are accredited, not simply the school. Also, verify that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Besides ensuring that you obtain an excellent education, accreditation might be mandated for state licensing and even for securing student loans or financial assistance.

What is the College's Reputation? Along with accreditation, it's essential that the school and program you pick have outstanding reputations within the physical therapy community. There are multiple ways you can research a PT college's reputation, beginning 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 as well. Call several Laveen AZ physical therapy centers or other healthcare facilities that you might have an interest in working for and ask if they can give you any advice about your program options. It may also be a good idea to contact the Arizona Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been filed against the colleges.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? There are a two significant statistics that you need to find out about each of the physical therapy colleges you are reviewing. One is their graduation rate. A low rate may indicate that students left because of displeasure with the program, the teachers, or both. Once the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being placed in jobs with the assistance of the school'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 healthcare community is good or even outstanding. It also confirms that the program has a broad network of contacts to help students obtain internships or jobs upon graduation.

Does the College Support Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the program you select furnishes both superior 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 required on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapist school. While licensing requirements vary state by state for PTA and PT graduates, many states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be completed as well as passing scores on additional tests.

Are Internship Programs Sponsored? Inquire if the physical therapy programs you are reviewing have relationships with Laveen AZ clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships an excellent way to obtain practical experience in a clinical setting, they are additionally a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they can help students and graduates establish professional relationships in the Laveen medical community and help with obtaining employment once licensed.

How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of student that likes to sit way in the back of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will likely prefer a small class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapist colleges you are reviewing what the typical 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 an opportunity to talk with several of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapy program also.

Where is the Program Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapist school they pick will have to be within driving distance of their Laveen AZ residence. Individuals who have decided to attend classes online obviously will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. Something to keep in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a college that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you may need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges commonly charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges typically charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.

Is Financial Support Offered? The majority of DPT colleges supply some type of financial assistance to their potential students. Find out if the colleges you are examining have a financial aid office and find out what type of assistance is offered. They at least should help in acquiring a student loan or any grants you may be eligible for. A number of physical therapist colleges provide scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before eliminating a college because the tuition is beyond your budget, ask what financial aid might be available.

Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to verify that the physical therapist program you ultimately pick can provide the class schedule you need. This is particularly essential if you opt to continue working while attending classes. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Laveen AZ area, make certain that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would have to carry. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss due to work, illness or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Laveen Physical Therapy Degrees

Choose the Right Laveen Physical Therapy School

Deciding on the right physical therapy program is an important initial decision you need to make to start a gratifying career in the health care profession. As we have covered in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and college you decide on should both have outstanding reputations and be accredited. But there are other important questions that you need to ask regarding your school of choice also. As you start your search for a physical therapy college keep in mind that many factors will lead you to your final decision. You might decide to visit each of the campuses to see their facilities and talk to active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this program help me achieve my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By following our list of additional questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the options so you can make the appropriate selection. And with the necessary training and education, you can achieve your dream of becoming a licensed physical therapist in Laveen Arizona.


 

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