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How to Enroll In the Right Physical Therapist Degree Program Near Litchfield Park Arizona

Litchfield Park Arizona physical therapist working with woman using exercise ballReceiving a physical therapist degree near Litchfield Park AZ is an important first step to launching a fulfilling career in the medical care field. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been incapacitated due to illness or injury gain back mobility and function. But before they may legally practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they must acquire the appropriate training and education. A PT must also be licensed in all states, a large number requiring that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So prior to selecting a physical therapy school, it's necessary to investigate the ones you are considering to make certain they will supply a superior education and satisfy your state's licensing standards. What you should not do is select a school simply because it happens to be the nearest to your home or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that must be considered besides location and cost. But before we cover what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, we'll address what a physical therapist does and the options for education.

What Does a Physical Therapist Do?

Litchfield Park Arizona physical therapist helping woman to walk

Physical therapists work in a variety of settings, including Litchfield Park AZ hospitals, health clinics, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes 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 stated, physical therapists help patients that are experiencing a lack of mobility and often pain caused by illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they develop a program of treatment to deal with the mobility issues and reduce or eradicate any pain. They also endeavor to stop any progression of the disability. Though the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Strokes
  • Heart attacks
  • Sports injuries
  • Burn injuries
  • Hip Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists practice in close association with other Litchfield Park AZ medical specialists, including chiropractors, physicians, registered nurses and dentists. They may also supervise one or more physical therapy assistants who work under them in diagnosing and treating their patients. Something to take note of for anyone considering entering the physical therapy field, 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 Offered

Litchfield Park Arizona DPT working with man in pool

There are three physical therapist degree options available for students to pursue 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 training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or prepping them to progress to the doctoral level. Below are short summaries of degrees that are available to prospective students in the Litchfield Park AZ area:

  • Associate Degrees educate students to become physical therapy assistants, or can be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Candidates must have earned a high school diploma or equivalent to qualify for enrollment. The degrees are usually made available by junior or community colleges, and take about 2 years for completion. An internship or other form of clinical training is normally a portion of the course of study.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapy education to prep students to move up to the doctoral level. Although they are not required to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an essential preliminary step to becoming a PT. As with the majority of bachelor's degrees, they normally take four years to complete and commonly include an internship program of at least 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are mandated in order 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 finish, making the overall investment of time 7 years in the majority of cases. Clinical training is an intregal component in addition to the substantial classroom and lab instruction. Therefor 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 taken the place of the Master's of Physical Therapy (MPT), which has been eliminated and is no longer offered in the USA. A number of practicing physical therapists having a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the current licensing requirement for a doctorate was instituted.

Physical Therapist Schools Online

Litchfield Park Arizona female student taking physical therapy classes onlineWhile not as prevalent as the on-campus alternatives, there are a number of accredited online physical therapy degrees available, more so at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on structure of the training, internships and clinical lab work are integrated with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live close to the school campus or nearby an available internship. Fortunately, the online segment of the curriculum may be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Litchfield Park AZ residence. Online programs are not only to some extent more accessible, but in a number of cases more affordable. Tuition can be somewhat lower than comparable on-campus options, and costs for commuting are reduced. And many of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These benefits may make the online option the best choice for those students that are motivated enough to learn at home.

Subjects to Ask Physical Therapist Schools

By now you undoubtedly have come to decision regarding a few of your preliminary questions, including the kind of physical therapist degree you would like 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 across Arizona, you'll have to look into other qualifications as well in order to further reduce your list of school options. Moreover, you need to make sure that you select the school that is right for you. That's why we have collected a list of important questions that you need to ask the physical therapist programs you are reviewing. Ask each of the competing colleges these questions before making a final decision.

Is the Physical Therapist Program Accredited?  Find out if the programs you are reviewing have received 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 college, it can also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's essential that both the physical therapy program and school you enroll in are accredited, not just the school. Also, verify that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. In addition to ensuring that you receive an excellent education, accreditation might be mandated for state licensing and even for getting student loans or financial assistance.

What is the College's Standing? Along with accreditation, it's essential that the college and program you pick have excellent reputations within the physical therapist profession. There are several ways you can investigate a PT school's reputation, starting with requesting references from employers that they place their graduates with. You can also search for online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. Call several Litchfield Park AZ physical therapist clinics 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 schools.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? There are a couple of relevant statistics that you should find out about all of the physical therapist colleges you are considering. First is their graduation rate. A low rate may mean that students left because of displeasure with the program, the instructors, or both. Once the students have graduated, how many of them are being hired with the help of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Litchfield Park AZ area? If a college has a higher job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the healthcare community is good or perhaps excellent. It also verifies that the college has a broad network of contacts to help students get internships or employment upon graduation.

Does the College Support Licensing Requirements? It's important that the college you select provides both exceptional training and a curriculum that supports the licensing requirements for Arizona or the state where you will be practicing. In each state a passing score is needed on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) in addition to a degree from an accredited physical therapist program. Although licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PTA and PT graduates, a number of states require a minimum number of clinical hours be completed and passing scores on supplemental exams.

Are Internships Offered? Inquire if the physical therapy schools you are reviewing have relationships with Litchfield Park AZ clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only a great manner to get hands on experience in a clinical environment, they are additionally a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they may help graduates and students establish professional relationships in the Litchfield Park medical community and help with obtaining employment once licensed.

What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of person that prefers to sit way in the back of class or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a smaller class size. Small classes permit more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapy schools you are reviewing what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to sit in on 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 opinions regarding the physical therapist program as well.

Where is the School Located? For a number of students, the physical therapist school they select will need to be within driving distance of their Litchfield Park AZ home. Individuals who have chosen to attend online classes obviously will not have to trouble 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 college that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges generally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges generally charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.

Is Financial Support Offered? Most DPT colleges offer some type of financial assistance to their potential students. Find out if the schools you are examining have a financial assistance department and see what kind of help is obtainable. They at least should help in obtaining a student loan or any scholarships you might be eligible for. A number of physical therapy colleges offer scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before you eliminate a college because the tuition is too expensive, find out what financial assistance might be available.

Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must verify that the physical therapy school you ultimately pick can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you opt to continue working while you attend school. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Litchfield Park AZ area, check that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, find out if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would have to carry. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss as a result of work, illness or family emergencies.

Learn More About Litchfield Park Physical Therapist Degrees

Choose the Best Litchfield Park Physical Therapist School

Choosing the ideal physical therapist program is a necessary first decision you must make to launch a gratifying career in the health care profession. As we have covered in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and school you decide on should both have exceptional reputations and accreditation. However there are other relevant questions that you need to ask pertaining to your school of choice also. As you commence your search for a physical therapist college keep in mind that many factors will lead you to your ultimate decision. You may decide to visit each of the campuses to see their facilities and speak to current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this program help me reach my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By adhering to our list of additional questions, you will be able to narrow down the field so you can make the ideal choice. 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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