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How to Pick the Right Physical Therapist College Near Litchfield Park Arizona

Litchfield Park Arizona physical therapist working with female patient holding balance ballEarning a physical therapist degree near Litchfield Park AZ is an important first step to beginning a fulfilling career in the healthcare field. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been incapacitated due to illness or injury regain mobility and function. But before they may legally practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they need to acquire the necessary training and education. A PT must also become licensed in every state, a large number mandating that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So before selecting a physical therapy school, it's important to research the ones you are thinking about to make certain they will furnish a superior education and meet your state's licensing criteria. What you do not want to do is enroll in a college simply because it happens to be the closest to your home or it has the lowest tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that must be evaluated along with cost and location. 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?

Litchfield Park Arizona physical therapist helping female patient to walk

Physical therapists practice in a variety of settings, including Litchfield Park AZ hospitals, health clinics, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and sports facilities. What the facilities all share in common is that they have the equipment for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As earlier mentioned, physical therapists help patients that are struggling with a lack of mobility and frequently pain caused by injury or illness. After patient diagnosis, they develop a course of treatment to resolve the mobility issues and reduce or eradicate any pain. They also try to prevent any advancement of the disability. Though the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Head injuries
  • Heart attacks
  • Sports injuries
  • Fire injuries
  • Hip Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Cerebral Palsy

Licensed physical therapists work in close association with other Litchfield Park AZ health specialists, including chiropractors, physicians, registered nurses and dentists. They may also manage several physical therapy assistants who work under them assisting with the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. Something to take note of for anyone considering going into the physical therapy profession, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists often lift patients and heavy equipment, and kneel, crouch and stand for extended periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degrees

Litchfield Park Arizona physical therapist working with patient in pool

There are 3 physical therapist degrees offered for individuals to enroll in at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these options, the single 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 preparing them to progress to the doctoral level. Below are brief explanations of degrees that are offered to prospective students in the Litchfield Park AZ area:

  • Associate Degrees educate students to be physical therapy assistants, or can be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Candidates must have a high school diploma or GED to be accepted for enrollment. The degrees are usually provided by community colleges, and require 2 years to complete. An internship or other form of clinical training is typically a component of the course of study.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapy training to ready candidates to advance to the doctoral level. Although they are not a requirement to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an integral initial step to becoming a PT. Similar to the majority of bachelor's degrees, they normally require four years to finish and usually include an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are mandated in order to become a practicing licensed 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 complete, making the total commitment 7 years in most cases. Practical or clinical training is an important component in addition to the considerable lab and classroom instruction. Consequently the fulfillment of an internship is required, not only for graduation but in some states for licensing as well.

The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) has replaced the Master's of Physical Therapy (MPT), which has been phased out and is no longer available in the United States. A number of practicing physical therapists holding a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the current licensing mandate for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapy Degrees Online

Litchfield Park Arizona woman taking physical therapy courses onlineAlthough not as common as the on campus options, there are some accredited online physical therapist degrees available, even more at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on structure of the training, internships and clinical lab work are integrated with the online classes. This requires that the student live near the college campus or nearby an available internship. However, the online part of the program can be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Litchfield Park AZ home. Online schools are not only partially more accessible, but in many instances more affordable. Tuition might be significantly lower than similar on campus alternatives, and costs for commuting are reduced. And many of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These advantages can make the online option the best choice for those students that are dedicated enough to attend classes at home.

Topics to Ask Physical Therapist Schools

By now you undoubtedly have made a decision regarding a few of your preliminary queries, like the kind of physical therapy degree you intend to obtain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to spend for your education. But because there are numerous PT colleges within the Litchfield Park AZ area and across Arizona, you'll need to research additional qualifications also so as to further narrow your list of school choices. Furthermore, you need to be sure that you pick the school that is best for you. That's the reason we have collected a list of essential questions that you must ask the physical therapy programs you are thinking about. Ask all of the competing schools these questions prior to making a final selection.

Is the Physical Therapist School Accredited?  Find out if the schools you are considering have earned accreditation from a regional or a national 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 choose an online college, it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's essential that both the physical therapy program and school you choose are accredited, not simply the school. Additionally, verify that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Along with ensuring that you obtain a quality education, accreditation might be mandated for state licensing as well as for getting student loans or financial aid.

What is the College's Ranking? In addition to accreditation, it's important that the college and program you choose have outstanding reputations within the physical therapy community. There are several ways you can investigate a PT school's reputation, beginning 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. Get in touch with several Litchfield Park AZ physical therapy centers or other health care facilities that you may have an interest in working for and ask if they can offer any advice about your college options. It may also be prudent to contact the Arizona Attorney General and school licensing authority to see 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 each of the physical therapist schools you are looking at. One is their graduation rate. A lower rate may mean that students dropped out due to displeasure with the program, the instructors, or both. Once the students have graduated, how many of them are being hired with the support of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Litchfield Park AZ area? If a school has a higher job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the healthcare community is good or perhaps exceptional. It also confirms that the college has a broad network of contacts to assist students obtain internships or jobs upon graduation.

Does the Program Support Licensing Requirements? It's important that the program you select provides both superior training and a curriculum that satisfies the licensing requirements for Arizona or the state where you will be working. In every 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 fluctuate state by state for PT and PTA graduates, many states require a minimum number of clinical hours be completed and passing scores on additional tests.

Are Internships Sponsored? Ask if the physical therapist programs you are interested in have associations with Litchfield Park AZ clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a great way to get practical training in a clinical setting, they are also a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they can help graduates and students form professional connections in the Litchfield Park healthcare community and help with obtaining employment after licensing.

What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of person that prefers to sit way in the back of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a small class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapist schools you are researching what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you a chance to talk with some of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapist program also.

Where is the College Located? For many students, the physical therapy school they pick will have to be within commuting distance of their Litchfield Park AZ residence. Those who have chosen to attend classes online naturally 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 keep 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 may have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges usually charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges frequently charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Support Offered? The majority of DPT colleges provide some form of financial aid to their potential students. Ask if the schools you are considering have a financial aid department and find out what kind of assistance is offered. They at least should help in acquiring a student loan or any grants you may qualify for. A number of physical therapy schools provide scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before you eliminate a school because the tuition is too expensive, find out what financial aid might be available.

Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to verify that the physical therapist program you finally pick can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you decide to continue working while you attend classes. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Litchfield Park AZ area, check that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would have to enroll in. Also, find out what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss due to work, illness or family obligations.

Learn More About Litchfield Park Physical Therapist Courses

Choose the Best Litchfield Park Physical Therapist School

Picking the right physical therapist school is an important initial decision you need to make to start a gratifying career in the medical profession. As we have addressed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and school you pick should both have exceptional reputations and accreditation. But there are additional relevant questions that you need to ask pertaining to your school of choice as well. As you commence your search for a physical therapist program bear in mind that many variables will lead you to your ultimate decision. You might want to visit each of the colleges to see their facilities and talk with active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this school help me achieve my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By following our list of additional questions, you will be able to narrow down the field so you can make the ideal selection. And with the necessary training and education, you can accomplish your dream of becoming a practicing physical therapist in Litchfield Park Arizona.


 

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