How to Choose the Right Physical Therapist Training Program Near Mesa Arizona
Earning a physical therapist degree near Mesa AZ is a critical first step to launching a fulfilling career in the health care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been incapacitated due to illness or injury regain mobility and function. But before they can practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they must acquire the proper training and education. A PT must additionally become licensed in all states, a large number mandating that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So prior to selecting a physical therapy school, it's essential to evaluate those you are considering to make sure they will supply a quality education and satisfy your state's licensing requirements. What you should not do is enroll in a school just because it happens to be the nearest to your home or it has cheapest tuition. There are other important qualifications that need to be considered besides cost and location. But before we cover what those qualifications are and the questions you should be asking, we'll address what a physical therapist does and what the educational options are.
What is a Physical Therapist?
Physical therapists work in diverse locations, including Mesa AZ private practices, hospitals, assisted living facilities, rehab centers 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 previously touched on, 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 resolve the mobility issues and lessen or eliminate any pain. They also try 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
- Cardiac arrest
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Fire injuries
- Knee Replacement
- Multiple Sclerosis
Licensed physical therapists practice in close association with other Mesa AZ health professionals, including doctors, chiropractors, registered nurses and dentists. They may also manage several physical therapy assistants who work under them assisting with the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. Something to bear in mind for anyone considering entering the physical therapy field, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and kneel, crouch and stand for extended periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapy Degrees Available
There are 3 physical therapist degrees offered for individuals to pursue at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these options, the one degree that is offered that qualifies the graduate to practice as 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. Following are brief explanations of degrees that are available to prospective students in the Mesa AZ area:
- Associate Degrees train students to practice as physical therapy assistants, or may be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Applicants must have earned a high school diploma or equivalent to qualify for enrollment. The programs are most often offered by community colleges, and take about two years to complete. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is typically part of the program.
- Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapist training to prep candidates to move up to the doctoral level. While they are not required to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an integral preliminary step to practicing as a PT. As with most bachelor's degrees, they normally require 4 years to finish and often incorporate an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
- Doctorate Degrees are a requirement if you want 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 complete, making the overall investment of time 7 years in the majority of cases. Clinical or practical training is an important component in addition to the substantial classroom and lab instruction. Consequently the completion of an internship is mandated, not solely for graduation but in some states for licensing as well.
The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) has taken the place of the Master's of Physical Therapy (MPT), which has been phased out and is no longer offered in the United States. A number of practicing physical therapists holding a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the current licensing mandate for a doctorate was instituted.
Physical Therapy Online Degrees
Although not as common as the more traditional alternatives, there are some accredited online physical therapy degrees available, 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 requires that the student live close to the school campus or in proximity of an available internship. Fortunately, the online part of the program can be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Mesa AZ residence. Online programs are not only partially more accessible, but in many instances more affordable. Tuition might be somewhat less than similar on campus options, and costs for commuting are reduced. And a number of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These advantages may make the online option the ideal choice for those students that are motivated enough to attend classes at home.
Topics to Ask Physical Therapist Programs
At this point you probably have made a decision concerning a few of your initial questions, such as the kind of physical therapist degree you want to obtain, where you want to attend classes, and how much you can afford to invest in your education. But considering there are so many PT schools within the Mesa AZ area and across Arizona, you'll need to explore other qualifications also in order to further narrow your list of school options. Furthermore, you need to make sure that you pick the program that is right for you. That's the reason we have put together a list of critical questions that you must ask the physical therapy programs you are considering. Ask all of the competing colleges these questions prior to making an ultimate decision.
Is the Physical Therapy Program Accredited? Ask if the schools you are considering have earned accreditation from a regional or a national agency. As earlier 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 school, it may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's important that both the physical therapist program and school you enroll in are accredited, not just the school. Also, make sure that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Besides ensuring that you receive a quality education, accreditation may be required 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 college and program you select have outstanding reputations within the physical therapist community. There are a number of ways you can investigate a PT program's reputation, starting with requesting references from employers that they refer their students to. You may also check online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. Call several Mesa AZ physical therapist centers or other healthcare facilities that you might be interested in working for and ask if they can provide any advice about your program options. It may also be prudent to check with 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 Rate? There are a couple of useful statistics that you need to know about each of the physical therapist colleges you are reviewing. One is their graduation rate. A lower rate may suggest that students dropped out because of dissatisfaction with the program, the instructors, or both. After the students have graduated, how many of them are being placed in jobs with the help of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Mesa AZ area? If a program has a high job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the medical care field is good or perhaps excellent. It also confirms that the school has a large network of contacts to assist students obtain internships or employment after graduation.
Does the College Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the program you select furnishes both superior training and a course of study that supports the licensing criteria for Arizona or the state where you will be working. 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. Although licensing requirements differ state by state for PT and PTA graduates, some states require a minimum number of clinical hours be completed and passing scores on additional exams.
Are Internship Programs Provided? Inquire if the physical therapy colleges you are interested in have associations with Mesa AZ clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific manner to obtain practical experience in a clinical setting, they are additionally a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they can assist graduates and students establish professional relationships in the Mesa health care community and help with obtaining employment once licensed.
What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of student that likes to sit far in the rear of class or hide in the crowd, you will probably prefer a small class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapy colleges you are reviewing what the typical 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 determination. This will also give you an opportunity to converse with a few of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapist program as well.
Where is the School Located? For a number of students, the physical therapist college they choose will need to be within travelling distance of their Mesa AZ residence. Individuals who have decided to attend classes online obviously will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. Something to bear in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a college that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you may be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges normally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges usually charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.
Is Financial Support Offered? The majority of DPT schools offer some type of financial assistance to their prospective students. Inquire if the colleges you are reviewing have a financial aid department and see what kind of assistance is obtainable. At a minimum they should help in acquiring a student loan or any grants you may qualify for. A number of physical therapy schools provide scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before eliminating a program because the tuition is beyond your budget, ask what financial assistance may be available.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to confirm that the physical therapy school you ultimately choose can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you opt to continue working while attending classes. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Mesa AZ area, verify that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would have to carry. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss as a result of work, illness or family obligations.
Choose the Best Mesa Physical Therapy School
Deciding on the right physical therapist college is an important first decision you have to make to begin 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 be accredited. But there are other critical questions that you should ask pertaining to your school of choice also. As you begin your search for a physical therapy school bear in mind that many variables will guide you to your ultimate decision. You may want to visit different campuses to view their facilities and talk with active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this college help me reach my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By adhering to our list of supplemental questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the options so you can make the best selection. And with the necessary training and education, you can achieve your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in Mesa Arizona.