How to Pick the Right Physical Therapy School Near Marana Arizona
Receiving a physical therapist degree near Marana AZ is an essential first step to starting a rewarding career in the medical care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been debilitated due to illness or injury gain back function and mobility. But before they can practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they must get the proper training and education. A PT must additionally become licensed in every state, many requiring that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So prior to enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's important to research those you are thinking about to ensure they will provide a quality education and comply with your state's licensing requirements. What you should not do is enroll in a college simply because it happens to be the closest to your residence or it has cheapest tuition. There are other important 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 the options for education.
What is a Physical Therapist's Job Description?
Physical therapists practice in diverse locations, such as Marana 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 previously touched on, physical therapists help individuals that are experiencing a lack of mobility and in many cases pain due to illness or injury. After patient diagnosis, they create a program of treatment to address the mobility problems and reduce or eliminate any pain. They also try to prevent any advancement of the disability. Although the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are abundant, they include:
- Osteoporosis and Arthritis
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Cardiac arrest
- Sports injuries
- Fire injuries
- Knee Replacement
- Cerebral Palsy
Licensed physical therapists work in close partnerships with other Marana AZ health professionals, including chiropractors, physicians, dentists and nurses. They can also oversee one or more physical therapy assistants who work for them assisting with the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. Something to keep in mind for anyone considering getting into the physical therapy profession, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and kneel, crouch and stand for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapist Degrees Available
There are 3 physical therapist degree options available for students to pursue at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these alternatives, the one degree that is attainable 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 offered to prospective students in the Marana AZ area:
- Associate Degrees train students to be physical therapy assistants, or may be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Applicants must have a high school diploma or equivalent to qualify for enrollment. The degrees are usually made available by junior or community colleges, and require 2 years for completion. An internship or other form of clinical training is typically part of the course of study.
- Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapist training to ready candidates to advance to the doctoral level. While they are not required to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an important first step to practicing as a PT. Similar to most bachelor's degrees, they typically take 4 years to complete and commonly incorporate an internship program of at least 500 hours.
- Doctorate Degrees are a requirement 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). After earning the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes 3 years to finish, making the total investment of time 7 years in the majority of cases. Practical or clinical training is an important component in addition to the extensive classroom and lab instruction. Therefor the completion of an internship is mandated, not only for graduation but in a number of 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 having a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the current licensing requirement for a doctorate was instituted.
Physical Therapist Schools Online
While not as common as the more traditional options, there are some accredited online physical therapist degrees offered, more so at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on nature of the training, internships and clinical lab work are combined with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live close to the school campus or in proximity of a sponsored internship. Fortunately, the online portion of the curriculum may be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Marana AZ residence. Online programs are not only partially more accessible, but in a number of instances more economical. Tuition can be significantly lower than similar on-campus options, and expenditures for commuting are reduced. And a number of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These benefits may make the online option the best choice for those students that are dedicated enough to learn at home.
Subjects to Ask Physical Therapist Schools
By now you most likely have come to decision concerning several of your initial queries, including the kind of physical therapist degree you want to obtain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much you can afford to spend for your education. But considering there are so many PT colleges within the Marana AZ area and across Arizona, you'll have to research other qualifications also in order to further narrow your list of school options. Also, you want to make sure that you enroll in the college that is best for you. That's why we have put together a list of critical questions that you must ask the physical therapy schools you are reviewing. Ask each of the competing schools these questions prior to making a final selection.
Is the Physical Therapy College Accredited? Ask 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 college, it may 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 simply the school. Additionally, make sure that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Besides guaranteeing that you obtain an excellent education, accreditation might be mandated for state licensing and even for securing student loans or financial assistance.
What is the Program's Reputation? Along with accreditation, it's essential that the school and program you pick have outstanding reputations within the physical therapist profession. There are several ways you can research a PT program's reputation, beginning with requesting references from employers that they place their graduates with. You may also search for online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. Contact several Marana AZ physical therapy centers or other health care facilities that you might have an interest in working for and ask if they can provide any insight about your program 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 submitted against the colleges.
What is the College's Job Placement Percentage? There are a two important statistics that you should find out about all of the physical therapy programs you are considering. One is their graduation rate. A low rate may suggest that students left because of displeasure with the program, the instructors, or both. Once the students have graduated, how many of them are being placed in jobs with the assistance of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Marana AZ area? If a school has a high job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the healthcare community is good or perhaps excellent. It also affirms that the school has a large network of contacts to assist students get internships or jobs upon graduation.
Does the School Support Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the college you enroll in provides both exceptional training and a course of study that satisfies the licensing criteria 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 therapy college. Although licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PTA and PT graduates, some states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be completed and passing scores on additional tests.
Are Internships Sponsored? Ask if the physical therapy programs you are interested in have partnerships with Marana AZ hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only a great way to get practical experience in a clinical environment, they are also a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they can help graduates and students form professional relationships in the Marana medical community and help with job placement once licensed.
What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of student that prefers to sit far in the rear of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a small class size. Small classes permit more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapy schools you are looking at what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. 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 also.
Where is the College Located? For many students, the physical therapist college they choose will have to be within commuting distance of their Marana AZ residence. Students who have decided to attend online classes naturally will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of importance. Something to keep in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a school that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you may need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges generally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges generally charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Most DPT colleges provide some form of financial assistance to their prospective students. Ask if the schools you are examining have a financial aid office and see what type of assistance is offered. They at least should help in getting a student loan or any scholarships you might be eligible for. A number of physical therapist schools offer scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before you eliminate a program because the tuition is too expensive, learn what financial aid might be available.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to verify that the physical therapy school you ultimately choose can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you decide to continue working while you attend classes. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Marana AZ area, make sure that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, find out 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 as a result of illness, work or family obligations.
Choose the Best Marana Physical Therapist School
Selecting the right physical therapist school is a necessary initial decision you need to make to begin a fulfilling career in the health care profession. As we have discussed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and college you pick should both have exceptional reputations and be accredited. But there are additional critical questions that you need to ask pertaining to your college of choice as well. As you commence your search for a physical therapy school bear in mind that a number of variables will guide you to your ultimate decision. You may decide to visit different schools to see their facilities and speak with current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this college help me accomplish my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By following our list of supplemental questions, you will be able to narrow down the field so you can make the right choice. And with the necessary training and education, you can achieve your dream of becoming a licensed physical therapist in Marana Arizona.