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How to Enroll In the Right Physical Therapist College Near Mesa Arizona

Mesa Arizona physical therapist working with woman holding exercise ballObtaining a physical therapy degree near Mesa AZ is a critical first step to beginning a rewarding career in the healthcare industry. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been disabled as a result of illness or injury gain back function and mobility. But before they may legally practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they must obtain the proper education and training. A PT must additionally be licensed in every state, a large number requiring that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So prior to selecting a physical therapy school, it's important to research those you are considering to ensure they will deliver a quality education and comply with your state's licensing requirements. What you should not do is choose a school just because it happens to be the closest to your home or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other important qualifications that must be evaluated along with location and cost. But before we talk about 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 is a Physical Therapist?

Mesa Arizona DPT assisting woman to walk

Physical therapists work in varying settings, such as Mesa AZ private practices, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and sports facilities. What the facilities all have in common is that they have the equipment for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As previously mentioned, physical therapists help individuals that are experiencing a lack of mobility and often pain due to illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they create a course of treatment to resolve the mobility problems and reduce or eradicate any pain. They also try to stop any progression of the disability. Although the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Osteoporosis and Arthritis
  • Car or motor cycle accidents
  • Head injuries
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Fire injuries
  • Hip Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Cerebral Palsy

Licensed physical therapists practice in close association with other Mesa AZ health specialists, including doctors, chiropractors, dentists and nurses. They may also manage one or more physical therapy assistants who work under them in diagnosing and treating their patients. One thing to take note of for anyone thinking about entering the physical therapy field, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists routinely lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and kneel, crouch and stand for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degrees Available

Mesa Arizona physical therapist working with man in pool

There are 3 physical therapy degrees available for individuals to enroll in at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these alternatives, the only degree that is offered that qualifies the graduate to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees focus on either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or readying them to progress to the doctoral level. Following are brief summaries of degrees that are offered to prospective students in the Mesa AZ area:

  • Associate Degrees train students to practice as physical therapy assistants, or may 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 degrees are typically made available by community or junior colleges, and require 2 years to complete. An internship or other form of clinical training is normally part of the curriculum.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapist training to prep candidates to move up to the doctoral level. Although they are not a requirement to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an essential initial step to becoming a PT. As with the majority of bachelor's degrees, they typically require four years to finish and often include an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are required 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 three years to complete, making the overall commitment seven years in most cases. Clinical training is an essential element along with the extensive lab and classroom instruction. Therefor the fulfillment 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 eliminated and is no longer available in the USA. A number of practicing physical therapists holding a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the current licensing requirement for a doctorate was instituted.

Physical Therapist Online Colleges

Mesa Arizona female student taking physical therapy classes onlineWhile not as prevalent as the on-campus options, there are many accredited online physical therapist degrees offered, even more at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on nature of the training, clinical lab work and internships are integrated with the online classes. This requires that the student live close to the school campus or nearby an available internship. However, the online part of the course of study may be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Mesa AZ home. Online programs are not only to some extent more accessible, but in many cases more economical. Tuition might be significantly less than comparable on campus alternatives, and expenditures for commuting are minimized. And a number of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These benefits may make the online option the ideal choice for those students that are disciplined enough to attend classes at home.

Subjects to Ask Physical Therapist Colleges

At this point you probably have made a decision regarding several of your preliminary questions, such as the kind of physical therapist degree you want to earn, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to spend for your education. But because there are numerous PT colleges within the Mesa AZ area and across Arizona, you'll have to explore additional qualifications also so as to further reduce your list of college choices. Furthermore, you need to be sure that you pick 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 therapist colleges you are considering. Ask all of the potential colleges these questions prior to making a final decision.

Is the Physical Therapist College Accredited?  Ask if the programs you are reviewing have earned accreditation from a regional or a national agency. 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 college, it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's essential that both the physical therapy program and school you choose are accredited, not simply the school. Also, check that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Along with guaranteeing that you obtain an excellent education, accreditation might be required for state licensing and even for securing student loans or financial assistance.

What is the College's Ranking? In addition to accreditation, it's imperative that the college and program you pick have excellent reputations within the physical therapist community. There are a number of ways you can look into a PT college's reputation, starting with asking for references from employers that they place their graduates with. You can also search for online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. Get in touch with some Mesa AZ physical therapist centers or other medical care facilities that you may be interested in working for and ask if they can give you any insight 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 School's Job Placement Percentage? There are a couple of important statistics that you should find out about all of the physical therapist colleges you are looking at. First is their graduation rate. A low rate might mean that students left due to dissatisfaction with the program, the teachers, or both. Once the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being placed in jobs with the assistance 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 healthcare community is good or perhaps excellent. It also verifies that the school has a large network of contacts to help students get internships or jobs after graduation.

Does the Program Support Licensing Requirements? It's important that the college 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 each state a passing score is required on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) as well as a degree from an accredited physical therapy school. While licensing requirements differ state by state for PT and PTA graduates, many states require a minimum number of clinical hours be completed as well as passing scores on additional tests.

Are Internships Sponsored? Ask if the physical therapy colleges you are reviewing have associations with Mesa AZ clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent way to get hands on experience in a clinical environment, they are also a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they can assist graduates and students establish professional connections in the Mesa health care community and assist with job placement once licensed.

What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of person that prefers to sit far in the back of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will likely want a smaller class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapist schools you are researching what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you a chance to speak with some of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the physical therapist program as well.

Where is the Program Located? For many students, the physical therapist school they pick will have to be within commuting distance of their Mesa AZ home. Individuals who have chosen to attend online classes naturally will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. Something to keep in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a program that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges commonly 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 Assistance Provided? The majority of DPT colleges supply some form of financial support to their potential students. Find out if the colleges you are looking at have a financial aid department and see what type of help is obtainable. At a minimum they should help in securing a student loan or any grants you might qualify for. Some physical therapist schools offer scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before you eliminate a school because the tuition is too expensive, find out what financial aid might be available.

Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to confirm that the physical therapy school you finally select can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you choose to continue working while you attend classes. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Mesa AZ area, make sure that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, find out if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would have to enroll in. Also, learn what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.

Learn More About Mesa Online Physical Therapy Training

Enroll in the Best Mesa Physical Therapy School

Choosing the ideal physical therapist program is a necessary initial decision you have to make to launch a gratifying career in the medical profession. As we have discussed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and college you pick should both have excellent reputations and accreditation. But there are other relevant questions that you need to ask regarding your school of choice as well. As you begin your search for a physical therapist program bear in mind that numerous factors will lead you to your ultimate decision. You might want to go to each of the campuses to view their facilities and speak with current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this college help me accomplish my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By adhering to our list of supplemental questions, you will be able to narrow down the field so you can make the best choice. And with the necessary education and training, you can fulfill your dream to become a licensed physical therapist in Mesa Arizona.


 

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