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How to Find the Right Physical Therapy Program Near Litchfield Park Arizona

Litchfield Park Arizona physical therapist working with female patient holding exercise ballEarning a physical therapy degree near Litchfield Park AZ is a critical first step to launching a fulfilling career in the healthcare industry. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been incapacitated as a result of injury or illness regain mobility and function. But before they can practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they need to acquire the necessary education and training. A PT must additionally be licensed in every state, a large number requiring that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So prior to selecting a physical therapy school, it's essential to research those you are considering to ensure they will provide a quality education and meet your state's licensing requirements. 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 lowest tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that must be considered in addition to cost and location. But before we talk about what those qualifications are and the questions you should be asking, we'll address what a physical therapist does and what the educational options are.

What Do Physical Therapists Do?

Litchfield Park Arizona DPT helping woman to walk

Physical therapists work in varying locations, such as Litchfield Park AZ private practices, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and health clubs. What the facilities all share in common is that they are equipped for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As previously stated, physical therapists help people that are struggling with a lack of mobility and in many cases pain caused by illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they develop a course of treatment to deal with the mobility issues and reduce or eradicate any pain. They also endeavor to prevent any advancement of the disability. While the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are abundant, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Car or motor cycle accidents
  • Strokes
  • Heart attacks
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Burn injuries
  • Hip Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Cerebral Palsy

Licensed physical therapists work in close partnerships with other Litchfield Park AZ health specialists, including chiropractors, physicians, dentists and nurses. They can also manage several physical therapy assistants who work for them in diagnosing and treating their patients. One thing to take note of for anyone thinking about entering the physical therapy profession, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and kneel, crouch and stand for long periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapist Degrees

Litchfield Park Arizona physical therapist working with man in pool

There are 3 physical therapist degree options offered for individuals to enroll in at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these choices, the only degree that is attainable that qualifies the graduate to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees focus on either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or preparing them to advance to the doctoral level. Following are short summaries of degrees that are offered to prospective students in the Litchfield Park AZ area:

  • Associate Degrees educate students to practice as physical therapy assistants, or may be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Candidates must have obtained a high school diploma or equivalent to qualify for enrollment. The programs are usually offered by junior or community colleges, and take about two years to complete. An internship or other form of clinical training is usually part of the curriculum.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapist training to prepare students to move up to the doctoral level. Although they are not required to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an integral initial step to becoming a PT. Similar to most bachelor's degrees, they normally take 4 years to complete and usually incorporate an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are mandated 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). In addition to the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes three years to complete, making the total commitment seven years in most cases. Practical or clinical training is an important component along with the considerable lab and classroom instruction. Therefor 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 eliminated and is no longer available in the United States. Some practicing physical therapists holding a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the existing licensing mandate for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapist Colleges Online

Litchfield Park Arizona female student taking physical therapy courses onlineWhile not as prevalent as the on-campus options, there are a number of accredited online physical therapist programs available, even more at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on structure of the training, internships and clinical lab work are combined with the online classes. This requires that the student live near the school campus or in proximity of a sponsored internship. Fortunately, the online part of the course of study can be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Litchfield Park AZ residence. Online schools are not only to some extent more accessible, but in many instances more affordable. Tuition may be significantly less than comparable on campus options, and costs for commuting are minimized. And a number of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These benefits may make the online option the right choice for those students that are motivated enough to learn at home.

Topics to Ask Physical Therapist Programs

At this point you most likely have made a decision concerning several of your preliminary questions, such as the kind of physical therapy degree you intend to earn, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to spend for your education. But since there are so many PT colleges within the Litchfield Park AZ area and throughout Arizona, you'll need to look into additional qualifications as well in order to further reduce your list of school choices. Furthermore, you need to make sure that you choose the program that is best for you. That's the reason we have collected a list of critical questions that you must ask the physical therapy programs you are thinking about. Ask all of the potential schools these questions prior to making an ultimate selection.

Is the Physical Therapist College Accredited?  Find out if the colleges you are looking at have earned 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 choose an online school, it may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's important that both the physical therapist program and school you choose are accredited, not simply the school. Also, check that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Besides guaranteeing that you obtain a quality education, accreditation might be mandated for state licensing and even for getting student loans or financial aid.

What is the Program's Ranking? In addition to accreditation, it's imperative that the college and program you choose have excellent reputations within the physical therapy community. There are a number of ways you can look into a PT school's reputation, starting with requesting references from employers that they refer their students to. You can also check online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. Call some Litchfield Park AZ physical therapist centers or other health care facilities that you may have an interest in working for and ask if they can provide any recommendations 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 filed against the colleges.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? There are a couple of useful statistics that you need to find out about all of the physical therapy schools you are reviewing. First is their graduation rate. A lower rate may indicate 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 help of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Litchfield Park AZ area? If a college has a high job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the medical care field is good or even exceptional. It also confirms that the college has a broad network of contacts to assist students get internships or employment after graduation.

Does the College Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the program you select provides both exceptional training and a curriculum 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) in addition to a degree from an accredited physical therapy program. While licensing requirements vary state by state for PT and PTA graduates, some states require a minimum number of clinical hours be completed and passing scores on supplemental exams.

Are Internship Programs Sponsored? Inquire if the physical therapy colleges you are evaluating have associations with Litchfield Park AZ hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent manner to obtain practical training in a clinical setting, they are additionally a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they may help graduates and students form professional relationships in the Litchfield Park health care community and assist with obtaining employment after licensing.

What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the kind of student that prefers to sit far in the rear of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will probably want a small class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapist schools you are reviewing what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you a chance to speak with some of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapist program as well.

Where is the College Located? For a number of students, the physical therapist school they pick will need to be within travelling distance of their Litchfield Park AZ residence. Students who have opted to attend online classes naturally will not have to concern 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 choose to enroll in a school that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges normally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges commonly charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Help Provided? The majority of DPT colleges supply some form of financial assistance to their prospective students. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have a financial aid office and find out what type of aid is offered. At a minimum they should help in acquiring a student loan or any scholarships you might qualify for. Some physical therapist colleges provide scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before you eliminate a program because the tuition is beyond your budget, find out what financial assistance might be available.

Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to confirm that the physical therapy college you finally choose can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly essential if you choose to continue working while you attend classes. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Litchfield Park AZ area, verify that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would need to carry. Also, find out what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss due to work, illness or family obligations.

Learn More About Litchfield Park Physical Therapist Degrees

Choose the Right Litchfield Park Physical Therapy School

Selecting the ideal physical therapist school is an important first decision you need to make to launch a rewarding career in the healthcare field. As we have discussed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and school you select should both have outstanding reputations and be accredited. But there are other relevant questions that you should ask concerning your college of choice also. As you commence your search for a physical therapist program keep in mind that numerous factors will guide you to your ultimate decision. You might decide to go to each of the colleges to see their facilities and talk with active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this college help me realize my goal of becoming a practicing licensed 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 best selection. And with the necessary education and training, you can accomplish your dream to become a licensed physical therapist in Litchfield Park Arizona.


 

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