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How to Choose the Right Physical Therapy Course Near Marana Arizona

Marana Arizona physical therapist working with woman holding exercise ballReceiving a physical therapy degree near Marana AZ is an important first step to beginning a fulfilling career in the medical care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been debilitated as a result of illness or injury regain function and mobility. But before they can practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they need to receive the necessary education and training. A PT must additionally be licensed in all states, a large number requiring that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So before choosing a physical therapy school, it's important to research the ones you are thinking about to make sure they will furnish a superior education and satisfy your state's licensing criteria. What you should not do is choose a college simply because it happens to be the nearest to your home or it has cheapest tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that need to be considered along with cost and location. But before we cover 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?

Marana Arizona physical therapist helping female patient to walk

Physical therapists practice in diverse locations, such as Marana AZ private practices, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and health clubs. What the facilities all have in common is that they have the equipment for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As earlier stated, physical therapists help people that are suffering from a lack of mobility and often pain due to injury or illness. After patient diagnosis, they design a course of treatment to deal with the mobility issues and reduce or eradicate any pain. They also endeavor to stop any advancement of the disability. While the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Head injuries
  • Heart attacks
  • Sports injuries
  • Burn injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists practice in close partnerships with other Marana AZ medical specialists, including chiropractors, physicians, dentists and nurses. They can also oversee one or more physical therapy assistants who work for them in diagnosing and treating their patients. Something to bear in mind for anyone thinking about going into the physical therapy field, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists routinely lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and stand, crouch and kneel for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapist Degrees

Marana Arizona physical therapist working with man in pool

There are 3 physical therapy degree options offered for individuals to enroll in at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these alternatives, the only degree that is available that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees target either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or readying them to progress to the doctoral level. Following are short explanations of degrees that are offered to prospective students in the Marana AZ area:

  • Associate Degrees educate students to be physical therapy assistants, or may be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Applicants must have a high school diploma or GED to qualify for enrollment. The degrees are most often provided by community or junior colleges, and require 2 years to complete. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is usually part of the curriculum.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapy training 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 important first step to becoming a PT. Similar to the majority of bachelor's degrees, they normally take 4 years to finish and usually include an internship program of at least 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are required 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). After earning the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes three years to finish, making the overall commitment 7 years in most cases. Clinical training is an important element 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 replaced the Master's of Physical Therapy (MPT), which has been phased out and is no longer attainable in the United States. A number of licensed 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 instituted.

Physical Therapy Online Degrees

Marana Arizona woman taking physical therapy classes onlineWhile not as common as the on-campus options, there are many accredited online physical therapy programs available, more so at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on nature of the training, clinical lab work and internships are combined with the online classes. This requires that the student live close to the college campus or in proximity of a sponsored internship. However, the online segment of the curriculum may be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Marana AZ residence. Online schools are not only to some extent more accessible, but in many instances more affordable. Tuition may be significantly lower than similar on-campus options, and costs for commuting are reduced. And a number of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These benefits can make the online alternative the ideal choice for those students that are disciplined enough to attend classes at home.

Subjects to Ask Physical Therapy Schools

By now you probably have come to decision regarding a few of your initial queries, such as the type of physical therapy degree you want to obtain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much you can afford to invest in your education. But since there are numerous PT schools within the Marana AZ area and throughout Arizona, you'll need to explore other qualifications as well so as to further reduce your list of school choices. Also, you want to be sure that you enroll in the program that is right for you. That's why we have compiled a list of critical questions that you must ask the physical therapist programs you are thinking about. Ask each of the competing schools these questions prior to making a final decision.

Is the Physical Therapist Program Accredited?  Find out if the programs you are looking at have earned accreditation from a regional or a national organization. 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 school, it can also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapist program and school you choose are accredited, not just the school. Additionally, check that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. In addition to ensuring that you obtain a quality education, accreditation may be required for state licensing and even for securing student loans or financial aid.

What is the College's Ranking? Along with accreditation, it's imperative that the college and program you pick have excellent reputations within the physical therapist community. There are several ways you can research a PT program's reputation, starting with requesting references from employers that they place their graduates with. You can also check online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. Get in touch with a few Marana AZ physical therapist clinics or other medical care facilities that you might have an interest in working for and ask if they can offer any insight about your school selections. It may also be a good idea to contact the Arizona Attorney General and school licensing authority to find out if any complaints have been filed against the schools.

What is the School's Job Placement Percentage? There are a couple of significant statistics that you should know about each of the physical therapy programs you are considering. First is their graduation rate. A lower rate might suggest that students left because of dissatisfaction with the program, the teachers, or both. After the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being hired with the assistance of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Marana AZ area? If a school has a higher job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the medical care community is good or perhaps outstanding. It also affirms that the program has a large network of contacts to assist students obtain internships or jobs upon graduation.

Does the College Support Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the college you enroll in provides both exceptional training and a curriculum that satisfies the licensing criteria for Arizona or the state where you will be practicing. In every state a passing score is needed on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapy program. While licensing requirements differ state by state for PT and PTA graduates, a number of states require a minimum number of clinical hours be performed and passing scores on supplemental exams.

Are Internship Programs Sponsored? Find out if the physical therapist schools you are evaluating have relationships with Marana AZ hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only a great means to receive practical training in a clinical setting, they are additionally a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they can help students and graduates develop professional relationships in the Marana healthcare community and assist with obtaining employment after licensing.

What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of person that likes to sit far in the rear of class or hide in the crowd, you will probably want a smaller class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapist colleges you are looking at what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you a chance to speak with a few of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the physical therapist program as well.

Where is the College Located? For many students, the physical therapy school they select will need to be within travelling distance of their Marana AZ home. Those who have opted to attend classes online obviously 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 consider is that if you choose to enroll in a college that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges usually charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges typically charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.

Is Financial Help Offered? The majority of DPT colleges supply some type of financial aid to their prospective students. Find out if the schools you are considering have a financial assistance office and see what type of assistance is obtainable. They at least should help in obtaining a student loan or any scholarships you may be eligible for. Some physical therapy colleges provide scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before eliminating a college because the tuition is beyond your budget, learn what financial assistance might be available.

Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to verify that the physical therapist college you ultimately select can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you decide to continue working while you attend school. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Marana AZ area, confirm that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, find out if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would need to enroll in. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss due to illness, work or family obligations.

Find Out More About Marana Physical Therapy Courses

Enroll in the Best Marana Physical Therapy School

Picking the right physical therapist program is an important first decision you must make to launch a fulfilling career in the medical profession. As we have addressed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and college you decide on should both have excellent reputations and accreditation. But there are other critical questions that you should ask concerning your college of choice also. As you start your search for a physical therapy program bear in mind that numerous variables will guide you to your final decision. You may decide to visit different schools to see their facilities and talk with current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this school help me reach my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By adhering to our list of supplemental questions, you will be able to narrow down the field so you can make the appropriate selection. And with the necessary training and education, you can achieve your dream to become a licensed physical therapist in Marana Arizona.


 

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