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How to Enroll In the Right Physical Therapy School Near Maricopa Arizona

Maricopa Arizona physical therapist working with woman holding balance ballReceiving a physical therapy degree near Maricopa AZ is an important first step to launching a fulfilling career in the healthcare field. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been disabled due to injury or illness regain function and mobility. But before they may legally practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they must get the appropriate education and training. A PT must additionally become licensed in every state, many mandating that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So prior to enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's important to evaluate the ones you are looking at to make certain they will deliver a quality education and comply with your state's licensing standards. What you should not do is choose a college just because it happens to be the nearest to your home or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other important qualifications that need to be considered besides cost and location. But before we discuss what those qualifications are and the questions you should be asking, we'll address what a physical therapist does and the options for education.

What Does a Physical Therapist Do?

Maricopa Arizona DPT helping female patient to walk

Physical therapists practice in a variety of locations, such as Maricopa AZ hospitals, health clinics, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and health clubs. What the facilities all have in common is that they are equipped for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As earlier stated, physical therapists help individuals that are struggling with a lack of mobility and in many cases pain caused by injury or illness. After diagnosing a patient, they develop a program of treatment to deal with the mobility problems and reduce or eradicate any pain. They also try to prevent any advancement of the disability. Though the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are abundant, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Car or motor cycle accidents
  • Strokes
  • Heart attacks
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Fire injuries
  • Hip Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists practice in close association with other Maricopa AZ medical professionals, including doctors, chiropractors, dentists and nurses. They may also oversee several physical therapy assistants who work for them assisting with diagnosing and treating their patients. One thing to take note of for anyone considering entering the physical therapy profession, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift patients and heavy equipment, and kneel, crouch and stand for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapist Degrees Offered

Maricopa Arizona physical therapist working with patient in pool

There are three physical therapist degree options offered for individuals to pursue at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these alternatives, the single degree that is attainable that qualifies the graduate to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees target either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or readying them to advance to the doctoral level. Below are short descriptions of degree levels that are offered to prospective students in the Maricopa AZ area:

  • Associate Degrees train students to be physical therapy assistants, or can be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Candidates must have a high school diploma or equivalent to qualify for enrollment. The programs are usually made available by community colleges, and require 2 years for completion. An internship or other form of clinical training is usually a component of the program.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapy training to prep candidates to move up to the doctoral level. While they are not a requirement to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an important initial step to practicing as a PT. As with the majority of bachelor's degrees, they normally take four years to finish and often incorporate an internship program of a minimum of 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 three years to finish, making the overall investment of time 7 years in most cases. Practical or clinical training is an important component in addition to the considerable classroom and lab instruction. Consequently the completion of an internship is required, not only for graduation but in a number of 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 attainable in the USA. Some licensed physical therapists having a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the current licensing mandate for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapy Colleges Online

Maricopa Arizona female student taking physical therapy classes onlineAlthough not as common as the on-campus options, there are some accredited online physical therapy programs offered, even more at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on nature of the training, clinical lab work and internships are incorporated with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live near the college campus or nearby a sponsored internship. However, the online portion of the curriculum can be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Maricopa AZ residence. Online programs are not only to some extent more accessible, but in a number of cases more affordable. Tuition can be somewhat less than similar on-campus alternatives, and costs for commuting are minimized. And a number of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These advantages can make the online alternative the right choice for those students that are dedicated enough to learn at home.

Subjects to Ask Physical Therapy Schools

By now you most likely have made a decision regarding some of your preliminary queries, including the kind of physical therapy degree you intend to attain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to invest in your education. But since there are numerous PT schools within the Maricopa AZ area and across Arizona, you'll need to explore other qualifications as well so as to further reduce your list of school choices. Furthermore, you need to make certain that you choose the school that is ideal for you. That's the reason we have collected a list of essential questions that you need to ask the physical therapy programs you are considering. Ask all of the potential colleges these questions prior to making a final decision.

Is the Physical Therapy College Accredited?  Find out if the programs you are considering have earned accreditation from a regional or a national agency. 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 can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's essential that both the physical therapy program and school you select are accredited, not simply the school. Also, verify that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Along with ensuring that you receive an excellent education, accreditation may be required for state licensing as well as for getting student loans or financial aid.

What is the Program's Ranking? Along with accreditation, it's essential that the college and program you select have outstanding reputations within the physical therapist community. There are several ways you can investigate a PT college's reputation, starting with asking for references from employers that they refer their students to. You can also search for online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. Call several Maricopa AZ physical therapy centers or other healthcare facilities that you may have an interest in working for and ask if they can offer any advice about your college selections. It might 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 schools.

What is the Program's Job Placement Percentage? There are a two important statistics that you need to know about all of the physical therapist colleges you are looking at. One is their graduation rate. A lower rate may mean that students dropped out because of displeasure with the program, the teachers, or both. After the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being placed in jobs with the help of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Maricopa AZ area? If a program has a higher job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the health care community is good or even excellent. It also confirms that the school has a wide network of contacts to help students obtain internships or employment upon graduation.

Does the College Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the school you select furnishes both exceptional training and a curriculum that supports the licensing requirements 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) in addition to a degree from an accredited physical therapy school. While licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PT and PTA graduates, some states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be performed as well as passing scores on additional tests.

Are Internships Offered? Ask if the physical therapist schools you are reviewing have partnerships with Maricopa AZ clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific way to get hands on training in a clinical setting, they are additionally a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they may help graduates and students develop professional connections in the Maricopa health care community and help with obtaining employment after licensing.

What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of student that likes to sit far in the rear of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will probably want a smaller class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapist schools you are considering what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. 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 instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapy program as well.

Where is the Program Located? For a number of students, the physical therapy school they choose will need to be within travelling distance of their Maricopa AZ residence. Those who have decided to attend classes online 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 keep in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a school that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges usually charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges frequently charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.

Is Financial Support Offered? The majority of DPT schools offer some form of financial support to their prospective students. Inquire if the colleges you are reviewing have a financial assistance department and find out what type of aid is obtainable. At a minimum they should help in obtaining a student loan or any scholarships you might be eligible for. Some physical therapist schools provide scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before you eliminate a school because the tuition is beyond your budget, find out what financial assistance might be available.

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

Learn More About Maricopa Online Physical Therapy Courses

Enroll in the Best Maricopa Physical Therapy School

Selecting the right physical therapy college is an important initial decision you must make to launch a fulfilling career in the healthcare field. As we have addressed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and school you choose should both have exceptional reputations and be accredited. However there are additional relevant questions that you should ask pertaining to your college of choice also. As you start your search for a physical therapist college bear in mind that many variables will guide you toward your ultimate decision. You may want to go to different schools to see their facilities and speak to current 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 achieve your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in Maricopa Arizona.


 

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