How to Find the Right Physical Therapist Degree Program Near Mesa Arizona
Getting a physical therapy degree near Mesa AZ is a critical first step to launching a fulfilling career in the health care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been disabled as a result of injury or illness regain mobility and function. But before they may legally practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they must acquire the appropriate training and education. A PT must additionally become licensed in every state, a large number mandating that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So prior to enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's important to research the ones you are thinking about to make sure they will deliver a quality education and meet your state's licensing requirements. What you do not want to do is select a school just because it happens to be the closest to your home or it has cheapest tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that must be considered besides location and cost. But before we discuss what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, we'll address what a physical therapist does and the options for education.
What is a Physical Therapist?
Physical therapists work in varying settings, including Mesa AZ private practices, hospitals, 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 mentioned, physical therapists help individuals that are suffering from a lack of mobility and in many cases pain caused by injury or illness. After patient diagnosis, they develop a course of treatment to resolve the mobility issues and lessen or eliminate any pain. They also endeavor to stop any progression of the disability. Though the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are numerous, they include:
- Arthritis or Osteoporosis
- Car or motor cycle accidents
- Head injuries
- Cardiac arrest
- Sports injuries
- Fire injuries
- Hip Replacement
- Cerebral Palsy
Licensed physical therapists work in close affiliation with other Mesa AZ medical professionals, including doctors, chiropractors, registered nurses and dentists. They can also manage one or more physical therapy assistants who work for them in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. Something to keep in mind for anyone thinking about going into the physical therapy profession, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists routinely lift patients and heavy equipment, and kneel, crouch and stand for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapy Degrees Offered
There are three physical therapist degree options available for students to pursue at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these options, the single degree that is attainable 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 prepping them to advance to the doctoral level. Following are brief explanations of degrees that are offered to prospective students in the Mesa AZ area:
- Associate Degrees educate students to be physical therapy assistants, or can be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Candidates must have earned a high school diploma or GED to qualify for enrollment. The programs are usually provided by community or junior colleges, and take about 2 years for completion. An internship or other form of clinical training is usually a component of the curriculum.
- Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapy education to ready candidates to advance to the doctoral level. Although they are not required to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an integral first step to becoming a PT. As with most bachelor's degrees, they generally require four years to finish and commonly incorporate an internship program of a minimum of 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). In addition to 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 element along with the extensive lab and classroom instruction. Consequently the fulfillment of an internship is mandated, not just 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 eliminated and is no longer attainable in the United States. Some licensed physical therapists holding a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the current licensing requirement for a doctorate was instituted.
Physical Therapist Degrees Online
While not as prevalent as the on-campus alternatives, there are many accredited online physical therapy degrees available, more so at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on nature of the training, clinical lab work and internships are combined with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live close to the college campus or nearby an available internship. However, the online segment of the course of study can be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Mesa AZ home. Online programs are not only partially more accessible, but in a number of instances more affordable. Tuition can be significantly less than similar on campus alternatives, and expenses for commuting are reduced. And many of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These benefits can make the online option the best choice for those students that are dedicated enough to attend classes at home.
What to Ask Physical Therapy Programs
At this point you undoubtedly have come to decision concerning several of your initial queries, including the kind of physical therapy degree you want 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 Mesa AZ area and throughout Arizona, you'll need to explore other qualifications also in order to further narrow your list of college options. Also, you need to make sure that you select the program that is best for you. That's the reason we have compiled a list of important questions that you must ask the physical therapist programs you are considering. Ask all of the potential schools these questions prior to making an ultimate selection.
Is the Physical Therapy School Accredited? Find out if the schools you are reviewing have received accreditation from a regional or a national agency. As earlier mentioned, if you are pursuing a doctorate the program must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). If you choose an online program, it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's important that both the physical therapy program and school you enroll in are accredited, not simply the school. Also, check that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. In addition to ensuring that you receive a quality education, accreditation may be mandated for state licensing and even for getting student loans or financial aid.
What is the College's Reputation? In addition to accreditation, it's important that the school and program you pick have outstanding reputations within the physical therapy profession. There are multiple ways you can investigate a PT program's reputation, starting with asking for references from employers that they refer their students to. You can also search for online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. Contact some Mesa AZ physical therapy centers or other healthcare facilities that you may be interested in working for and ask if they can give you any advice about your program options. 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 filed against the colleges.
What is the College's Job Placement Percentage? There are a couple of significant statistics that you need to know about each of the physical therapist schools you are reviewing. One is their graduation rate. A lower rate may indicate that students dropped out due to displeasure with the program, the instructors, or both. After the students have graduated, how many of them are being hired with the help of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Mesa AZ area? If a school has a high job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the health 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 employment upon graduation.
Does the Program Support Licensing Requirements? It's important that the college you select provides both superior training and a course of study that satisfies the licensing requirements for Arizona or the state where you will be working. In each state a passing score is needed on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) in addition to a degree from an accredited physical therapy college. While licensing requirements differ state by state for PT and PTA graduates, some states require a minimum number of clinical hours be performed and passing scores on additional tests.
Are Internships Sponsored? Inquire if the physical therapy colleges you are evaluating have partnerships with Mesa AZ clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only a terrific way to get hands on training in a clinical setting, they are also a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they can assist graduates and students develop professional relationships in the Mesa healthcare community and assist with obtaining employment once licensed.
How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of person that likes to sit way in the rear of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a small class size. Smaller classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapy colleges you are reviewing what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you a chance to converse with several of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the physical therapist program as well.
Where is the Program Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapist college they decide on will need to be within commuting distance of their Mesa AZ residence. Students who have decided to attend online classes obviously will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of importance. One thing to bear in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a program that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges commonly charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges often charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.
Is Financial Support Offered? Most DPT colleges offer some type of financial support to their potential students. Inquire if the schools you are considering have a financial assistance office and find out what kind of aid is available. They at least should help in obtaining a student loan or any grants you may be eligible for. A number of physical therapist colleges provide scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before you eliminate a school because the tuition is beyond your budget, ask what financial aid may be available.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to verify that the physical therapy program you ultimately choose can provide the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you choose to continue working while you attend school. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Mesa AZ area, make certain that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would need to carry. Also, learn what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss because of work, illness or family obligations.
Enroll in the Right Mesa Physical Therapy School
Picking the best physical therapy college is a necessary initial decision you need to make to launch a fulfilling career in the health care profession. As we have addressed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and college you select should both have excellent reputations and accreditation. But there are additional critical questions that you should ask regarding your college of choice as well. As you start your search for a physical therapy program bear in mind that a number of factors will lead you to your ultimate decision. You may decide to go to different schools to see their facilities and talk to current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this program help me accomplish my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By following our list of additional questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the field so you can make the appropriate choice. And with the necessary training and education, you can accomplish your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in Mesa Arizona.