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How to Choose the Right Physical Therapy Training Program Near Marana Arizona

Marana Arizona physical therapist working with woman using exercise ballReceiving a physical therapy degree near Marana AZ is an important first step to starting a fulfilling career in the medical care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been debilitated due to illness or injury regain function and mobility. But before they can practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they must receive the appropriate training and education. A PT must also become licensed in all states, a large number requiring that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So prior to choosing a physical therapy school, it's essential to research the ones you are considering to make sure they will supply a quality education and satisfy your state's licensing requirements. What you do not want to do is choose a college just because it happens to be the nearest to your residence or it has cheapest tuition. There are other significant qualifications that must be evaluated in addition to cost and location. But before we discuss what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, we'll address what a physical therapist does and what the educational options are.

What Do Physical Therapists Do?

Marana Arizona DPT helping woman to walk

Physical therapists work in diverse settings, such as Marana AZ hospitals, health clinics, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and sports facilities. What the facilities all have in common is that they have the equipment for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As earlier mentioned, physical therapists help individuals that are struggling with a lack of mobility and often pain caused by injury or illness. After patient diagnosis, they create a course of treatment to address the mobility issues and reduce or eradicate any pain. They also strive to prevent any progression of the disability. Although the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Car or motor cycle accidents
  • Strokes
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Sports injuries
  • Fire injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists practice in close affiliation with other Marana AZ health professionals, including doctors, chiropractors, dentists and nurses. They may also supervise several physical therapy assistants who work for them in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. One thing to bear in mind for anyone thinking about entering the physical therapy field, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists often lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and kneel, crouch and stand for long periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapist Degrees

Marana Arizona DPT working with man in pool

There are 3 physical therapy degrees offered for students to pursue at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these choices, the only degree that is available 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 advance to the doctoral level. Following are brief summaries of degrees that are available to prospective students in the Marana AZ area:

  • Associate Degrees train students to practice as physical therapy assistants, or may be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Candidates must have a high school diploma or GED to be accepted for enrollment. The programs are most often provided by junior or community colleges, and require two years for completion. An internship or other form of clinical training is usually part of the program.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapy education to prep candidates to progress to the doctoral level. While they are not a requirement to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an important initial step to becoming a PT. As with the majority of bachelor's degrees, they typically require 4 years to finish and commonly incorporate an internship program of at least 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are required in order to become a practicing licensed 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 3 years to complete, making the overall commitment seven years in the majority of cases. Clinical training is an important element along with the considerable lab and classroom instruction. Therefor the completion of an internship is required, not only for graduation but in several 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 attainable 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 instituted.

Physical Therapist Online Programs

Marana Arizona woman taking physical therapy classes onlineAlthough not as common as the more traditional options, there are many accredited online physical therapist degrees available, even more at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on nature of the training, internships and clinical lab work are incorporated with the online classes. This requires that the student live close to the college campus or in proximity of a sponsored internship. Fortunately, the online part of the program can be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Marana AZ residence. Online schools are not only partially more accessible, but in a number of instances more economical. Tuition might be somewhat less than similar on-campus options, and costs for commuting are minimized. And a number of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These benefits may make the online alternative the right choice for those students that are motivated enough to attend classes at home.

Topics to Ask Physical Therapy Programs

At this point you most likely have made a decision concerning several of your preliminary queries, such as the type of physical therapy degree you would like to obtain, where you want to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to spend for your education. But because there are so many PT schools within the Marana AZ area and throughout Arizona, you'll have to research other qualifications as well so as to further reduce your list of school options. Also, you want to make sure that you enroll in the school that is ideal for you. That's why we have put together a list of essential questions that you need to ask the physical therapy programs you are thinking about. Ask all of the competing schools these questions prior to making an ultimate decision.

Is the Physical Therapist Program Accredited?  Ask if the schools you are looking at have earned accreditation from a regional or a national organization. As previously stated, 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 program, it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapist school and program you enroll in are accredited, not just the school. Also, make sure that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Along with guaranteeing that you obtain a quality education, accreditation might be required for state licensing and even for securing student loans or financial aid.

What is the College's Standing? In addition to accreditation, it's essential that the school and program you select have exceptional reputations within the physical therapist community. There are a number of ways you can research a PT college's reputation, beginning with asking for 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 also. Call several Marana AZ physical therapist clinics or other medical care facilities that you may be interested in working for and ask if they can offer any recommendations about your school selections. It may also be prudent to check with 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 Percentage? There are a two significant statistics that you need to know about each of the physical therapist colleges you are considering. First is their graduation rate. A low rate may indicate that students left due to dissatisfaction with the program, the instructors, or both. Once the students have graduated, how many of them are being placed in jobs with the help of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Marana AZ area? If a program has a higher job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the medical care field is good or perhaps outstanding. It also affirms that the school has a large network of contacts to help students obtain internships or jobs upon graduation.

Does the School Support Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the school you select provides both excellent training and a course of study that supports the licensing criteria 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) as well as a degree from an accredited physical therapist college. Although licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PT and PTA graduates, many states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be performed as well as passing scores on additional tests.

Are Internship Programs Provided? Find out if the physical therapist colleges you are assessing have associations with Marana 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 also a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they can assist students and graduates develop professional connections in the Marana healthcare community and assist with job placement after licensing.

How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the type 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 allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapist colleges you are reviewing what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you an opportunity to talk with some of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the physical therapist program also.

Where is the College Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapy school they select will need to be within commuting distance of their Marana AZ home. Those who have decided to attend classes online naturally will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of importance. One thing to consider is that if you choose to enroll in a school that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you may be required 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 don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Help Provided? The majority of DPT schools supply some type of financial support to their prospective students. Find out if the colleges you are considering have a financial assistance department and see what type of assistance is available. At a minimum they should help in securing a student loan or any grants you may be eligible for. A number of physical therapist schools offer scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before eliminating a college because the tuition is beyond your budget, find out what financial assistance might be available.

Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to verify that the physical therapist school you finally select can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you opt to continue working while attending school. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Marana AZ area, make sure that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, verify if that is an option 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 emergencies.

Find Out More About Marana Online Physical Therapist Programs

Enroll in the Right Marana Physical Therapist School

Deciding on the best physical therapist college is a necessary first decision you have to 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 outstanding reputations and accreditation. But there are additional important questions that you should ask pertaining to your school of choice also. As you commence your search for a physical therapy program keep in mind that many variables will guide you toward your final decision. You might want to go to each of the colleges to see their facilities and speak with active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this school help me achieve my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By following our list of supplemental questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the options so you can make the appropriate choice. And with the necessary education and training, you can achieve your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in Marana Arizona.


 

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