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How to Select the Right Physical Therapy College Near New River Arizona

New River Arizona physical therapist working with female patient holding exercise ballEarning a physical therapy degree near New River AZ is a critical first step to beginning a fulfilling career in the medical care field. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been disabled as a result of illness or injury regain function and mobility. But before they may legally practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they must get the necessary training and education. A PT must additionally be licensed in all states, 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 necessary to research those you are considering to make sure they will supply a quality education and satisfy your state's licensing criteria. What you do not want to do is choose a school simply because it happens to be the nearest to your residence or it has the lowest tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that must be evaluated along with location and cost. But before we cover what those qualifications are and the questions you should be asking, we'll cover what a physical therapist does and what the educational options are.

What Do Physical Therapists Do?

New River Arizona physical therapist helping woman to walk

Physical therapists practice in a variety of locations, such as New River AZ hospitals, health clinics, assisted living facilities, rehab centers 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 touched on, physical therapists help individuals that are experiencing a lack of mobility and often pain caused by injury or illness. After patient diagnosis, they design a program of treatment to address the mobility issues and lessen or eliminate any pain. They also endeavor to stop any advancement of the disability. While the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are numerous, they include:

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

Licensed physical therapists practice in close affiliation with other New River AZ medical specialists, including chiropractors, physicians, registered nurses and dentists. They can also supervise several physical therapy assistants who work for them assisting with diagnosing and treating their patients. Something to keep in mind for anyone thinking about getting into the physical therapy profession, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists often lift patients and heavy equipment, and kneel, crouch and stand for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degree Options

New River Arizona physical therapist working with man in pool

There are 3 physical therapy degree options available for students to enroll in at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these choices, the one degree that is offered that qualifies the graduate to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees concentrate on either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or readying them to progress to the doctoral level. Below are brief descriptions of degrees 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. Candidates must have a high school diploma or equivalent to qualify for enrollment. The degrees are typically provided by junior or community colleges, and take about 2 years for completion. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is usually a portion of the course of study.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapist training to ready candidates to move up to the doctoral level. Although they are not a requirement to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an integral first step to becoming a PT. As with most bachelor's degrees, they normally take four years to finish and often incorporate an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are required in order to become a practicing licensed 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 finish, making the total investment of time seven years in most cases. Practical or clinical training is an important element in addition to the extensive classroom and lab instruction. Therefor the fulfillment of an internship is required, not just for graduation but in some states for licensing as well.

The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) has taken the place of the Master's of Physical Therapy (MPT), which has been phased out and is no longer attainable in the USA. A number of practicing physical therapists having a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the current licensing requirement for a doctorate was instituted.

Physical Therapy Online Schools

New River Arizona female student taking physical therapist training onlineAlthough not as common as the on-campus alternatives, there are many accredited online physical therapist degrees offered, more so at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on structure of the training, clinical lab work and internships are incorporated with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live close to the college campus or nearby a sponsored internship. Fortunately, the online portion of the curriculum can be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's New River AZ residence. Online schools are not only to some extent more accessible, but in many instances more economical. Tuition may be significantly less than similar on campus alternatives, and expenses for commuting are reduced. And a number of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These benefits may make the online option the right choice for those students that are dedicated enough to learn at home.

What to Ask Physical Therapy Schools

At this point you probably have made a decision regarding some of your preliminary questions, like the type of physical therapy degree you want to obtain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much you can afford to spend for your education. But considering there are so many PT schools within the New River AZ area and throughout Arizona, you'll need to research additional qualifications as well so as to further reduce your list of school options. Furthermore, you need to be sure that you choose the college that is right for you. That's the reason we have collected a list of important questions that you must ask the physical therapist schools you are considering. Ask all of the competing schools these questions prior to making an ultimate selection.

Is the Physical Therapist College Accredited?  Ask if the programs you are looking at have earned 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 select an online school, it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapy program and school you enroll in are accredited, not simply the school. Additionally, verify that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Along with guaranteeing that you obtain a quality education, accreditation may be mandated for state licensing and even for securing student loans or financial aid.

What is the School's Reputation? In addition to accreditation, it's essential that the college and program you pick have exceptional reputations within the physical therapy profession. There are several ways you can research a PT program's reputation, starting with asking for references from employers that they refer their students to. You can also search for online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. Call a few New River AZ physical therapist centers or other health care facilities that you may have an interest in working for and ask if they can offer any insight about your school options. It may also be a good idea to check with the Arizona Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been submitted against the colleges.

What is the School's Job Placement Percentage? There are a two relevant statistics that you need to know about each of the physical therapy colleges you are looking at. First is their graduation rate. A lower rate may indicate that students dropped out because of displeasure with the program, the instructors, or both. After the students have graduated, how many of them are being placed in jobs with the help of the school's job placement program, particularly in the New River AZ area? If a program has a higher job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the health care field is good or perhaps excellent. It also verifies that the program has a wide network of contacts to help students get internships or employment upon graduation.

Does the Program Support Licensing Requirements? It's important that the school you select furnishes both exceptional 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) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapist program. While licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PT and PTA graduates, some states require a minimum number of clinical hours be completed as well as passing scores on supplemental tests.

Are Internships Sponsored? Ask if the physical therapy schools you are assessing have partnerships with New River AZ hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships a great way to obtain hands on experience in a clinical environment, they are additionally a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they can help students and graduates form professional connections in the New River medical community and assist with job placement once licensed.

What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of student that likes to sit way in the rear of class or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a smaller class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapy colleges you are looking at what the average 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 an opportunity to talk with several of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapy program as well.

Where is the College Located? For a number of students, the physical therapist school they select will have to be within driving distance of their New River AZ residence. Individuals who have opted to attend classes online obviously will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. One thing to bear in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a program that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you may have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges typically charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges typically charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Aid Offered? The majority of DPT colleges supply some form of financial aid to their prospective students. Inquire if the schools you are considering have a financial assistance department and see what kind of assistance is obtainable. At a minimum they should help in acquiring a student loan or any grants you may be eligible for. Some physical therapist schools offer scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before you eliminate a college because the tuition is beyond your budget, ask what financial assistance might be available.

Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to confirm that the physical therapy school you finally select can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you choose to continue working while attending classes. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the New River AZ area, make sure that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would need to enroll in. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of illness, work or family obligations.

Find Out More About New River Online Physical Therapist Schools

Enroll in the Right New River Physical Therapy School

Choosing the best physical therapist school is a necessary initial decision you need to make to launch a rewarding career in the health care field. As we have addressed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and college you choose should both have excellent reputations and accreditation. But there are other relevant questions that you need to ask regarding your school of choice also. As you commence your search for a physical therapy program keep in mind that many factors will lead you to your ultimate decision. You might decide to visit each of the schools to view their facilities and speak to current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this school help me achieve my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By following our list of supplemental questions, you will be able to narrow down the options so you can make the ideal selection. And with the proper education and training, you can accomplish your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in New River Arizona.


 

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