How to Pick the Right Physical Therapist Program Near Laveen Arizona
Receiving a physical therapy degree near Laveen AZ is a critical first step to launching a fulfilling career in the health care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been incapacitated as a result of illness or injury regain mobility and function. But before they may legally practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they must obtain the necessary education and training. A PT must also be licensed in all states, a large number mandating that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So prior to enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's necessary to investigate those you are thinking about to make sure they will provide a quality education and meet your state's licensing requirements. What you should not do is choose a school just because it happens to be the nearest to your residence or it has cheapest tuition. There are other important qualifications that must be considered along with 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 Do Physical Therapists Do?
Physical therapists practice in diverse locations, 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 previously stated, physical therapists help people that are struggling with a lack of mobility and frequently pain caused by injury or illness. After patient diagnosis, they create a program of treatment to resolve the mobility problems and lessen or eradicate any pain. They also try to stop any advancement of the disability. While the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are numerous, they include:
- Arthritis or Osteoporosis
- Car or motor cycle accidents
- Heart attacks
- Sports injuries
- Burn injuries
- Knee Replacement
- Multiple Sclerosis
Licensed physical therapists practice in close association with other Laveen AZ health professionals, including chiropractors, physicians, dentists and nurses. They can also supervise several physical therapy assistants who work for them in diagnosing and treating their patients. One thing to bear in mind for anyone thinking about getting into the physical therapy profession, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists often lift patients and heavy equipment, and stand, crouch and kneel for extended periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapist Degrees Available
There are three physical therapy degrees offered for individuals to pursue at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these options, the one degree that is available 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 readying them to progress to the doctoral level. Following are brief descriptions of degrees that are offered to prospective students in the Laveen AZ area:
- Associate Degrees train students to practice as physical therapy assistants, or may be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Candidates must have earned a high school diploma or equivalent to qualify for enrollment. The degrees are typically provided by junior or community colleges, and require 2 years to complete. An internship or other form of clinical training is typically a component of the curriculum.
- Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapist education to prepare candidates to advance to the doctoral level. While they are not a requirement to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an essential first step to becoming a PT. Similar to the majority of bachelor's degrees, they normally take four years to complete and commonly 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 must also be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). After earning the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes 3 years to finish, making the overall commitment 7 years in most cases. Practical or clinical training is an important component in addition to the considerable classroom and lab instruction. Consequently the fulfillment of an internship is mandated, not just 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 offered in the USA. Some licensed physical therapists having a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the existing licensing requirement for a doctorate was implemented.
Physical Therapy Online Degrees
Although not as prevalent as the on campus options, there are some accredited online physical therapist programs available, even more 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 college campus or nearby a sponsored internship. However, the online segment of the curriculum can 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 cases more affordable. Tuition may be significantly less than similar on-campus alternatives, and costs for commuting are reduced. And many of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These benefits can make the online alternative the best choice for those students that are dedicated enough to learn at home.
What to Ask Physical Therapy Programs
At this point you undoubtedly have come to decision concerning several of your initial queries, such as the kind of physical therapist degree you want to obtain, 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 colleges within the Laveen AZ area and across Arizona, you'll need to look into other qualifications as well so as to further reduce your list of college options. Furthermore, you need to make sure that you pick the program that is ideal for you. That's why we have collected a list of essential questions that you need to ask the physical therapist programs you are considering. Ask all of the potential colleges these questions before making an ultimate selection.
Is the Physical Therapy Program Accredited? Find out if the schools you are reviewing 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 enroll in an online school, it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's essential that both the physical therapist program and school you enroll in are accredited, not just the school. Also, check that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Besides guaranteeing that you receive an excellent education, accreditation might be mandated for state licensing and even for getting 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 multiple ways you can investigate a PT program's reputation, beginning with requesting references from employers that they refer their students to. You may also check online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. Get in touch with a few Laveen AZ physical therapist clinics or other health care facilities that you might have an interest in working for and ask if they can offer any advice about your college selections. It may 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 College's Job Placement Percentage? There are a couple of useful statistics that you should find out about all of the physical therapy schools you are reviewing. First is their graduation rate. A low rate might mean that students dropped out due to dissatisfaction with the program, the instructors, or both. Once the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being hired with the assistance of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Laveen AZ area? If a college has a high job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the healthcare field is good or even exceptional. It also confirms that the college has a broad network of contacts to help students obtain internships or employment upon graduation.
Does the Program Support Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the program you choose provides both excellent training and a course of study that satisfies the licensing requirements 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) as well as a degree from an accredited physical therapy school. Although licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PT and PTA graduates, some states require a minimum number of clinical hours be completed and passing scores on additional tests.
Are Internship Programs Provided? Inquire if the physical therapy colleges you are evaluating have associations with Laveen AZ clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only a great manner to obtain practical training in a clinical environment, they are also a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they can help graduates and students develop professional relationships in the Laveen healthcare community and assist with obtaining employment once licensed.
What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of person that prefers to sit far in the back of class or get lost in the crowd, you will likely prefer a small class size. Small classes permit more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapist schools 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 final decision. This will also give you a chance to converse with a few of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the physical therapist program also.
Where is the Program Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapy college they select will need to be within commuting distance of their Laveen AZ home. Those who have chosen to attend online classes 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 choose to enroll in a program that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges often charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges often charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Most DPT schools provide some form of financial assistance to their prospective students. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have a financial aid department and find out what type of help is offered. They at least should help in acquiring a student loan or any grants you may be eligible for. A number of physical therapy colleges provide scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before you eliminate a program because the tuition is beyond your budget, ask what financial assistance might be available.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to confirm that the physical therapy college you ultimately pick can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you opt to continue working while attending classes. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Laveen AZ area, make certain that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, check if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would need to carry. Also, find out what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss due to illness, work or family obligations.
Enroll in the Best Laveen Physical Therapist School
Choosing the ideal physical therapist program is a necessary initial decision you have to make to begin a rewarding career in the health care profession. As we have addressed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and school you enroll in should both have exceptional reputations and be accredited. However there are additional relevant questions that you should ask pertaining to your college of choice also. As you start your search for a physical therapy program bear in mind that numerous factors will lead you toward your final decision. You might want to visit each of the colleges 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 adhering to our list of additional questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the options so you can make the ideal choice. And with the proper training and education, you can achieve your dream of becoming a practicing physical therapist in Laveen Arizona.