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How to Select the Right Physical Therapist Course Near New River Arizona

New River Arizona physical therapist working with woman holding exercise ballReceiving a physical therapist degree near New River AZ is an essential first step to beginning a fulfilling career in the health care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been debilitated due to injury or illness gain back function and mobility. But before they can practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they must get the proper training and education. A PT must additionally be licensed in all states, a large number requiring that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So before choosing a physical therapy school, it's essential to investigate the ones you are considering to make sure they will supply a quality education and meet your state's licensing requirements. What you do not want to do is select a college simply because it happens to be the closest to your home or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other significant qualifications that need to be considered along with location and cost. But before we talk about what those qualifications are and the questions you should be asking, we'll address what a physical therapist does and the options for education.

What is a Physical Therapist?

New River Arizona DPT assisting female patient to walk

Physical therapists work in varying locations, 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 diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As earlier mentioned, physical therapists help individuals that are struggling with a lack of mobility and often pain due to illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they develop a program of treatment to deal with the mobility issues and lessen or eradicate any pain. They also endeavor to stop any advancement of the disability. Although the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are abundant, they include:

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

Licensed physical therapists work in close affiliation with other New River AZ health professionals, including doctors, chiropractors, registered nurses and dentists. They can also oversee one or more physical therapy assistants who work under them in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. One thing to keep in mind for anyone considering going into the physical therapy profession, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists routinely lift patients and heavy equipment, and stand, crouch and kneel for extended periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapist Degree Options

New River Arizona physical therapist working with man in pool

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

  • Associate Degrees train students to practice as physical therapy assistants, or may be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Candidates must have a high school diploma or equivalent to qualify for enrollment. The programs are typically made available by community or junior colleges, and take about 2 years to complete. An internship or other form of clinical training is usually part of the course of study.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapy training to ready students to move up to the doctoral level. While they are not a requirement to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an integral initial step to becoming a PT. Similar to most bachelor's degrees, they normally require four years to finish and often incorporate an internship program of at least 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are required 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). After earning the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes 3 years to finish, making the total commitment 7 years in the majority of cases. Practical or clinical training is an important element along with the considerable lab and classroom instruction. Therefor the fulfillment of an internship is mandated, not solely for graduation but in some states for licensing also.

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 USA. A number of practicing physical therapists holding a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the present licensing mandate for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapy Online Programs

New River Arizona female student taking physical therapy classes onlineWhile not as common as the more traditional options, there are a number of accredited online physical therapist programs available, even more at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on nature of the training, internships and clinical lab work are integrated with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live close to the college campus or in proximity of a sponsored internship. However, the online part of the course of study may be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's New River AZ residence. Online programs are not only partially more accessible, but in a number of instances more affordable. Tuition may be somewhat less than comparable on-campus alternatives, and expenditures for commuting are reduced. And a number of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These benefits may make the online alternative the ideal choice for those students that are dedicated enough to attend classes at home.

Questions to Ask Physical Therapy Schools

At this point you most likely have come to decision concerning several of your initial queries, such as the type of physical therapy degree you would like to obtain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much you can afford to invest in your education. But since there are so many PT schools within the New River AZ area and across Arizona, you'll have to explore other qualifications also in order to further narrow your list of school options. Moreover, you want to make certain that you select the program that is ideal for you. That's why we have compiled a list of essential questions that you must ask the physical therapy colleges you are considering. Ask all of the potential colleges these questions prior to making a final selection.

Is the Physical Therapy Program Accredited?  Find out if the schools you are looking at have received accreditation from a national or a regional agency. As earlier stated, if you are pursuing a doctoral degree the program must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). If you select an online school, it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapy school and program you choose are accredited, not simply the school. Also, check that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. In addition to ensuring 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 essential that the college and program you choose have outstanding reputations within the physical therapist community. There are a number of ways you can research a PT school's reputation, starting with requesting references from employers that they place their graduates with. You may also search for online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Contact a few New River AZ physical therapy clinics or other medical care facilities that you might be interested in working for and ask if they can provide any recommendations about your school selections. It may also be prudent to check with 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 two useful statistics that you should find out about each of the physical therapist programs you are reviewing. One is their graduation rate. A low rate might suggest that students dropped out because of displeasure with the program, the instructors, or both. Once the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being hired with the assistance of the college's job placement program, particularly in the New River AZ area? If a school has a high job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the health care community is good or perhaps excellent. It also affirms that the college has a large network of contacts to help students gain internships or jobs after graduation.

Does the College Support Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the program you enroll in provides both excellent 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 needed on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapist program. Although licensing requirements vary state by state for PT and PTA graduates, many states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be completed as well as passing scores on supplemental tests.

Are Internships Sponsored? Ask if the physical therapist colleges you are interested in have associations with New River AZ clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent manner to obtain practical experience in a clinical setting, they are additionally a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they can assist students and graduates develop professional relationships in the New River health care community and help with obtaining employment once licensed.

What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of person that likes to sit way in the back of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will likely prefer a small class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapist schools you are looking at what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you an opportunity to speak with some of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the physical therapy program as well.

Where is the Program Located? For many students, the physical therapist college they choose will have to be within travelling distance of their New River AZ residence. Those who have opted to attend online classes obviously will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. One thing to keep in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a college that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges generally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges often charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Support Provided? Most DPT schools offer some form of financial aid to their prospective students. Find out if the colleges you are considering have a financial aid office and find out what type of help is obtainable. They at least should help in securing a student loan or any scholarships you might qualify for. Some physical therapy schools offer scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before you eliminate a college because the tuition is too expensive, ask what financial assistance may be available.

Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must verify that the physical therapy program you finally pick can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you choose to continue working while you attend school. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the New River AZ area, check that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would have to carry. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss because of work, illness or family obligations.

Find Out More About New River Online Physical Therapist Colleges

Enroll in the Best New River Physical Therapist School

Selecting the right physical therapy school is an important first decision you have to make to begin a gratifying career in the medical field. As we have addressed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and school you pick should both have excellent reputations and be accredited. However there are additional important questions that you should ask pertaining to your school of choice as well. As you start your search for a physical therapy program bear in mind that a number of variables will lead you toward your ultimate decision. You may decide to visit different schools to see their facilities and speak to active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this college help me achieve my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By adhering to our list of additional questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the field so you can make the right selection. And with the proper education and training, you can achieve your dream to become a licensed physical therapist in New River Arizona.


 

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