How to Select the Right Physical Therapist Course Near Litchfield Park Arizona
Getting a physical therapy degree near Litchfield Park AZ is a critical first step to beginning a rewarding career in the healthcare field. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been debilitated due to illness or injury regain function and mobility. But before they may legally practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they must receive the necessary training and education. A PT must additionally be licensed in all states, many requiring that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So before selecting a physical therapy school, it's necessary to evaluate the ones you are looking at to ensure they will supply a superior education and meet your state's licensing criteria. What you do not want to do is select a college simply because it happens to be the closest to your home or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other significant qualifications that need to be considered in addition to 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 what the educational options are.
What is a Physical Therapist's Job Description?
Physical therapists work in diverse settings, including 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 the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As earlier mentioned, physical therapists help patients that are experiencing a lack of mobility and in many cases pain caused by illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they create a course of treatment to resolve the mobility issues and reduce or eradicate any pain. They also try to stop 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
- Head injuries
- Heart attacks
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Fire injuries
- Hip Replacement
- Multiple Sclerosis
Licensed physical therapists work in close affiliation with other Litchfield Park AZ health specialists, including chiropractors, physicians, registered nurses and dentists. They may also oversee one or more physical therapy assistants who work for them in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. Something to bear in mind for anyone thinking about entering the physical therapy field, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and kneel, crouch and stand for extended periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapy Degree Options
There are three physical therapist degree options available for individuals to enroll in at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these alternatives, the one degree that is attainable that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees emphasize either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or preparing them to progress to the doctoral level. Following are short descriptions of degree levels 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 used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Candidates must have earned a high school diploma or GED to qualify for enrollment. The programs are most often offered by junior or community colleges, and require 2 years to complete. An internship or other form of clinical training is typically part of the course of study.
- Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapy education to prep students to advance to the doctoral level. While they are not a requirement 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 commonly 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 also must 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. Clinical or practical training is an essential component along with the extensive classroom and lab instruction. Therefor the fulfillment of an internship is required, not solely for graduation but in some states for licensing also.
The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) has replaced the Master's of Physical Therapy (MPT), which has been eliminated and is no longer available in the United States. Some licensed physical therapists having a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the current licensing requirement for a doctorate was instituted.
Physical Therapist Schools Online
Although not as common as the more traditional alternatives, there are many accredited online physical therapy programs offered, more so 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 necessitates that the student live near the school campus or in proximity of an available internship. Fortunately, the online part of the program may 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 cases more economical. Tuition can be significantly lower than comparable on-campus alternatives, and expenses for commuting are minimized. And a number of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These advantages may make the online alternative the right choice for those students that are dedicated enough to attend classes at home.
Subjects to Ask Physical Therapist Schools
At this point you undoubtedly have made a decision concerning several of your preliminary questions, including the type of physical therapist degree you intend to earn, where you want to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to spend for your education. But because there are numerous PT schools within the Litchfield Park AZ area and throughout Arizona, you'll have to look into additional qualifications also in order to further narrow your list of school choices. Also, you need to make certain that you select the school that is best for you. That's the reason we have collected a list of essential questions that you need to ask the physical therapist colleges you are thinking about. Ask all of the competing colleges these questions before making a final selection.
Is the Physical Therapy College Accredited? Ask if the schools you are looking at have received accreditation from a national or a regional organization. As previously mentioned, if you are pursuing a doctorate 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 obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's important that both the physical therapy school and program you select are accredited, not just the school. Also, verify that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Along with guaranteeing that you obtain an excellent education, accreditation may be required for state licensing as well as for getting student loans or financial aid.
What is the College's Reputation? Along with accreditation, it's essential that the school and program you select have outstanding reputations within the physical therapist community. There are several ways you can look into a PT school's reputation, beginning with requesting references from employers that they place their graduates with. You may also search for online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. Contact several Litchfield Park AZ physical therapy clinics or other health care facilities that you might be interested in working for and ask if they can offer any recommendations about your program options. It may also be prudent to contact the Arizona Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been submitted against the colleges.
What is the College's Job Placement Percentage? There are a couple of relevant statistics that you should know about all of the physical therapist colleges you are reviewing. One is their graduation rate. A low rate might mean that students left because of displeasure with the program, the instructors, or both. After the students have graduated, how many of them are being placed in jobs with the support of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Litchfield Park AZ area? If a college has a higher job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the health care community is good or even outstanding. It also confirms that the program has a broad network of contacts to help students gain internships or jobs upon graduation.
Does the School Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's important that the school you select furnishes both superior training and a course of study that satisfies the licensing requirements for Arizona or the state where you will be practicing. In every state a passing score is required on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) in addition to a degree from an accredited physical therapist school. Although licensing requirements differ state by state for PTA and PT graduates, many states require a minimum number of clinical hours be performed as well as passing scores on supplemental tests.
Are Internship Programs Sponsored? Inquire if the physical therapy schools you are reviewing have partnerships with Litchfield Park AZ clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific means to obtain practical experience in a clinical environment, they are additionally a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they can help graduates and students develop professional relationships in the Litchfield Park health care community and help with obtaining employment after licensing.
What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the type of person that likes to sit way in the rear of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will probably want 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 average student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you a chance to converse with some of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the physical therapy program as well.
Where is the Program Located? For a number of students, the physical therapy school they pick will have to be within commuting distance of their Litchfield Park AZ home. Individuals who have decided to attend online classes obviously will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. One thing to bear 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 might be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges often charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges normally charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.
Is Financial Support Provided? Most DPT colleges offer some form of financial support to their prospective students. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have a financial assistance department and find out what kind of assistance is offered. They at least should help in acquiring a student loan or any scholarships you might be eligible for. Some physical therapy colleges offer scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before eliminating a school because the tuition is too expensive, learn what financial aid might be available.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to confirm that the physical therapy college you ultimately pick can provide the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you decide to continue working while you attend school. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Litchfield Park AZ area, confirm that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, find out if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would have to carry. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Litchfield Park Physical Therapist School
Picking the ideal physical therapy school is a necessary first decision you need to make to begin a fulfilling career in the health care field. As we have covered in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and school you select should both have excellent reputations and accreditation. But there are additional critical questions that you should ask pertaining to your college of choice as well. As you begin your search for a physical therapist program bear in mind that numerous factors will lead you toward your ultimate decision. You might decide to visit each of the schools to view their facilities and talk to active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this school help me accomplish my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By adhering to our list of additional questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the field so you can make the ideal choice. And with the proper education and training, you can fulfill your dream of becoming a practicing physical therapist in Litchfield Park Arizona.