How to Find the Right Physical Therapist Training Program Near New River Arizona
Getting a physical therapist degree near New River AZ is a critical first step to starting a fulfilling career in the healthcare industry. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been incapacitated due to injury or illness regain mobility and function. But before they may legally practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they must receive the proper training and education. A PT must additionally be licensed in every state, a large number requiring that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So prior to selecting a physical therapy school, it's essential to evaluate those you are looking at to make certain they will deliver a superior education and comply with your state's licensing criteria. What you should not do is select a college simply because it happens to be the nearest to your home or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other significant qualifications that must be considered along with cost and location. But before we talk about 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 practice in diverse settings, including New River AZ hospitals, health clinics, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes 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 earlier stated, physical therapists help people that are suffering from a lack of mobility and in many cases pain due to illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they develop a course of treatment to deal with the mobility issues and reduce or eliminate any pain. They also try to prevent any progression of the disability. Although the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are abundant, they include:
- Osteoporosis and Arthritis
- Car or motor cycle accidents
- Cardiac arrest
- Sports injuries
- Fire injuries
- Hip Replacement
- Cerebral Palsy
Licensed physical therapists practice in close partnerships with other New River AZ health professionals, including doctors, chiropractors, dentists and nurses. They may also oversee several physical therapy assistants who work for them assisting with the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. One thing to keep in mind for anyone thinking about getting into the physical therapy profession, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and stand, crouch and kneel for extended periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapist Degrees Available
There are 3 physical therapist degree options offered for students to enroll in at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these options, the single degree that is offered that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees focus on either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or preparing them to progress to the doctoral level. Below are short explanations of degree levels that are offered to prospective students in the New River AZ area:
- Associate Degrees educate students to become physical therapy assistants, or may be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Applicants must have obtained a high school diploma or GED to be accepted for enrollment. The programs are most often made available by community or junior colleges, and take about 2 years to complete. An internship or other form of clinical training is typically a portion of the course of study.
- Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapist training to ready students to progress to the doctoral level. While they are not required to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an integral initial step to becoming a PT. As with most bachelor's degrees, they generally require four years to complete and usually incorporate an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
- Doctorate Degrees are mandated if you want to become a licensed practicing physical therapist. The degree program must also 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 complete, making the total investment of time 7 years in most cases. Clinical training is an essential element along with the considerable classroom and lab instruction. Therefor the completion of an internship is mandated, not just for graduation but in a number of states for licensing as well.
The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) has replaced the Master's of Physical Therapy (MPT), which has been phased out and is no longer available in the United States. Some practicing physical therapists having a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the current licensing mandate for a doctorate was instituted.
Physical Therapy Online Degrees
Although not as prevalent as the on-campus alternatives, there are some accredited online physical therapy programs available, even more at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on structure 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. Fortunately, the online part of the program can be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's New River AZ residence. Online schools are not only partially more accessible, but in many instances more economical. Tuition might be somewhat less than comparable on-campus options, and expenses for commuting are minimized. And a number of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These advantages can make the online alternative the right choice for those students that are disciplined enough to attend classes at home.
Topics to Ask Physical Therapist Schools
At this point you undoubtedly have made a decision concerning several of your initial questions, 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 because there are so many PT colleges within the New River AZ area and across Arizona, you'll have to research other qualifications also in order to further narrow your list of school choices. Also, you want to make sure that you enroll in the program that is ideal for you. That's the reason we have put together a list of essential questions that you need to ask the physical therapist programs you are thinking about. Ask each of the potential colleges these questions prior to making an ultimate selection.
Is the Physical Therapy Program Accredited? Ask if the programs you are considering have received 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 choose an online college, it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's essential that both the physical therapy school and program you select are accredited, not just the school. Additionally, verify that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Along with guaranteeing that you receive a quality education, accreditation might be mandated for state licensing as well as for getting student loans or financial aid.
What is the Program's Reputation? In addition to accreditation, it's imperative that the college and program you pick have exceptional reputations within the physical therapy profession. There are multiple ways you can investigate a PT school's reputation, starting with asking for references from employers that they place their graduates with. You may also check online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. Call a few New River AZ physical therapist clinics or other healthcare facilities that you might have an interest in working for and ask if they can provide any recommendations about your college selections. It may 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 Program's Job Placement Rate? There are a couple of important statistics that you need to know about each of the physical therapy schools you are looking at. First is their graduation rate. A lower rate may suggest that students dropped out due to dissatisfaction with the program, the instructors, or both. After the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being hired with the support of the school's job placement program, particularly in the New River AZ area? If a school has a higher job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the health care field is good or even exceptional. It also verifies that the college has a broad network of contacts to help students gain internships or employment upon graduation.
Does the School Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the college you enroll in furnishes both superior training and a curriculum that satisfies the licensing criteria for Arizona or the state where you will be practicing. In every state a passing score is required on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) as well as a degree from an accredited physical therapy college. Although licensing requirements differ state by state for PTA and PT graduates, many states require a minimum number of clinical hours be performed as well as passing scores on additional tests.
Are Internships Offered? Ask if the physical therapy colleges you are evaluating have partnerships with New River AZ clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only a great manner to obtain hands on training in a clinical setting, they are also a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they may assist students and graduates form professional relationships in the New River health care community and assist with obtaining employment after licensing.
How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of person 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 therapy schools you are reviewing what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you an opportunity to talk with a few of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the physical therapist program as well.
Where is the College Located? For a number of students, the physical therapist college they choose will need to be within driving distance of their New River AZ home. Those who have opted to attend classes online naturally will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. One thing to consider is that if you decide to enroll in a program that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges usually 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 Aid Offered? Most DPT colleges supply some type of financial assistance to their potential students. Ask if the colleges you are examining have a financial assistance department and find out what kind of aid is obtainable. At a minimum they should help in securing a student loan or any scholarships you might qualify for. A number of physical therapist colleges provide scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before you eliminate a college because the tuition is beyond your budget, learn what financial aid may be available.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must verify that the physical therapist college you finally pick can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly essential if you opt to continue working while attending classes. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the New River AZ area, make certain that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, verify if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would need to enroll in. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of work, illness or family obligations.
Choose the Right New River Physical Therapy School
Deciding on the ideal physical therapist school is an important initial decision you need to make to start a fulfilling career in the medical profession. As we have covered in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and school you decide on should both have exceptional reputations and be accredited. However there are other relevant questions that you should ask concerning your school of choice also. As you commence your search for a physical therapist college bear in mind that a number of factors will guide you toward your final decision. You may want to visit each of the colleges to see their facilities and speak with current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this college help me realize my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By following our list of additional questions, you will be able to narrow down the options so you can make the best selection. And with the proper training and education, you can accomplish your dream to become a licensed physical therapist in New River Arizona.