How to Pick the Right Physical Therapy Program Near Mesa Arizona
Getting a physical therapy degree near Mesa AZ is a critical first step to beginning a rewarding career in the health care field. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been disabled due to illness or injury gain back function and mobility. But before they may legally practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they must get the appropriate training and education. A PT must also become licensed in every state, a large number mandating that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So before choosing a physical therapy school, it's necessary to research those you are considering to make certain they will supply a superior education and comply with your state's licensing criteria. What you should not do is enroll in a college just because it happens to be the closest to your home or it has the lowest tuition. There are other important qualifications that need to be evaluated in addition to cost and location. But before we discuss what those qualifications are and the questions you should be asking, we'll cover what a physical therapist does and the options for education.
What Do Physical Therapists Do?
Physical therapists practice in a variety of locations, such as Mesa AZ hospitals, health clinics, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and health clubs. What the facilities all have in common is that they are equipped for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As earlier stated, physical therapists help individuals that are suffering from a lack of mobility and often pain caused by injury or illness. After patient diagnosis, they develop a course of treatment to address the mobility problems and lessen or eliminate any pain. They also try to prevent any advancement of the disability. While the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are abundant, they include:
- Osteoporosis and Arthritis
- Car or motor cycle accidents
- Heart attacks
- Sports injuries
- Fire injuries
- Hip Replacement
- Multiple Sclerosis
Licensed physical therapists practice in close association with other Mesa AZ health specialists, including doctors, chiropractors, dentists and nurses. They may also supervise one or more physical therapy assistants who work under them assisting with diagnosing and treating their patients. One thing to bear in mind for anyone thinking about going into the physical therapy profession, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists routinely lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and stand, crouch and kneel for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapy Degrees
There are three physical therapy degrees offered for individuals to enroll in at the undergraduate and graduate 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 emphasize either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or preparing them to progress to the doctoral level. Below are brief summaries of degrees that are available to prospective students in the Mesa AZ area:
- Associate Degrees educate students to practice as physical therapy assistants, or can be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Candidates must have obtained a high school diploma or equivalent to qualify for enrollment. The degrees are usually made available by community colleges, and require 2 years for completion. An internship or other form of clinical training is usually a portion of the curriculum.
- Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapy education to ready students to advance to the doctoral level. Although they are not required to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an essential first step to practicing as a PT. Similar to most bachelor's degrees, they normally take four years to finish and commonly include an internship program of at least 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 overall commitment 7 years in the majority of cases. Clinical training is an important component along with the substantial classroom and lab instruction. Consequently the completion of an internship is mandated, not just 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 United States. A number of practicing physical therapists holding a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the present licensing requirement for a doctorate was implemented.
Physical Therapist Schools Online
Although not as prevalent as the on-campus alternatives, there are a number of accredited online physical therapy degrees available, more so at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on nature of the training, clinical lab work and internships are combined with the online classes. This requires that the student live near the college campus or in proximity of a sponsored internship. However, the online segment of the program can be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Mesa AZ home. Online schools are not only partially more accessible, but in a number of instances more affordable. Tuition can be somewhat less than comparable on campus alternatives, and expenses for commuting are minimized. And a number of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These benefits may make the online alternative the right choice for those students that are disciplined enough to learn at home.
Questions to Ask Physical Therapy Colleges
By now you most likely have come to decision regarding some of your initial queries, such as the kind of physical therapist degree you intend to attain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to spend for your education. But since there are so many PT colleges within the Mesa AZ area and across Arizona, you'll need to research other qualifications also so as to further reduce your list of college options. Moreover, you need to make certain that you choose the school that is right for you. That's why we have compiled a list of critical questions that you need to ask the physical therapy programs you are reviewing. Ask all of the competing schools these questions prior to making an ultimate selection.
Is the Physical Therapy School Accredited? Ask if the colleges you are reviewing 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 school, it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapist program and school you choose are accredited, not just the school. Additionally, verify that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Besides guaranteeing that you receive an excellent education, accreditation might be mandated for state licensing as well as for securing student loans or financial aid.
What is the School's Standing? In addition to accreditation, it's important that the school and program you choose have exceptional reputations within the physical therapy community. There are multiple ways you can investigate a PT program's reputation, starting with requesting 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. Contact some Mesa AZ physical therapist centers or other medical care facilities that you may have an interest in working for and ask if they can offer any advice about your college options. It might 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 find out about all of the physical therapy colleges you are looking at. First is their graduation rate. A lower rate may indicate that students left because of displeasure with the program, the teachers, or both. Once the students have graduated, how many of them are being hired with the support of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Mesa AZ area? If a school has a higher job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the medical care field is good or even excellent. It also verifies that the college has a large network of contacts to assist students get internships or jobs upon graduation.
Does the Program Support Licensing Requirements? It's important that the program you enroll in furnishes both excellent training and a curriculum that supports the licensing criteria 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) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapist college. Although licensing requirements differ state by state for PT and PTA graduates, a number of states require a minimum number of clinical hours be completed and passing scores on supplemental exams.
Are Internship Programs Provided? Inquire if the physical therapist schools you are interested in have relationships with Mesa AZ hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships an excellent way to receive hands on experience in a clinical environment, they are additionally a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they may help graduates and students develop professional connections in the Mesa health care community and assist with obtaining employment after licensing.
What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of student that likes to sit far in the rear of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will likely prefer a smaller class size. Small classes permit 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 sit in on one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you a chance to speak with several of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapist program as well.
Where is the College Located? For a number of students, the physical therapist school they choose will have to be within travelling distance of their Mesa AZ home. Individuals who have opted to attend classes online naturally will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. Something 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 might have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges normally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges frequently charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.
Is Financial Help Offered? Most DPT schools supply some type of financial support to their potential students. Ask if the colleges you are examining have a financial aid office and find out what kind of aid is obtainable. They at least should help in acquiring a student loan or any scholarships you might be eligible for. Some physical therapy schools offer scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before eliminating a college because the tuition is beyond your budget, learn what financial aid might be available.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must confirm that the physical therapist program you ultimately choose can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you choose to continue working while attending school. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Mesa AZ area, verify that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, find out if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would have to enroll in. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss due to work, illness or family obligations.
Choose the Best Mesa Physical Therapy School
Deciding on the right physical therapy school is an important first decision you need to make to launch a rewarding career in the healthcare field. As we have addressed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and college you select should both have exceptional reputations and accreditation. However there are additional important questions that you should ask concerning your school of choice as well. As you begin your search for a physical therapy program bear in mind that numerous variables will lead you toward your ultimate decision. You might decide to go to each of the colleges to view their facilities and talk with current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical 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 options so you can make the best choice. And with the necessary training and education, you can achieve your dream to become a licensed physical therapist in Mesa Arizona.