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

New River Arizona physical therapist working with female patient holding balance ballEarning 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 disabled due to illness or injury gain back function and mobility. But before they can practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they must acquire the necessary education and training. A PT must additionally become licensed in every state, many mandating that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So prior to selecting a physical therapy school, it's important to investigate the ones you are looking at to make sure they will supply a superior education and comply with your state's licensing requirements. What you should not do is choose a college simply because it happens to be the closest to your residence or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other significant qualifications that need to be evaluated in addition to 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 Does a Physical Therapist Do?

New River Arizona physical therapist helping woman to walk

Physical therapists work in varying settings, including New River AZ hospitals, health clinics, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and health clubs. What the facilities all share in common is that they are equipped for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As earlier touched on, physical therapists help people that are struggling with a lack of mobility and in many cases pain due to illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they design a course of treatment to address the mobility issues and lessen or eradicate any pain. They also try to stop any advancement of the disability. Although the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Car or motor cycle accidents
  • Strokes
  • Heart attacks
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Fire injuries
  • Hip Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists practice in close association with other New River AZ health specialists, including doctors, chiropractors, dentists and nurses. They may also manage one or more physical therapy assistants who work under them in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. One thing to take note of for anyone considering going into the physical therapy field, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift patients and heavy equipment, and kneel, crouch and stand for extended periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degrees Offered

New River Arizona DPT working with patient in pool

There are 3 physical therapy degrees available for individuals to pursue at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these alternatives, the only degree that is attainable 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 advance to the doctoral level. Below are brief descriptions of degrees that are available to prospective students in the New River AZ area:

  • Associate Degrees prepare students to become physical therapy assistants, or can be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Applicants must have earned a high school diploma or equivalent to qualify for enrollment. The degrees are most often made available by junior or community colleges, and require 2 years for completion. An internship or other form of clinical training is normally a component of the curriculum.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapist education to ready candidates to progress to the doctoral level. Although they are not required to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an important first step to practicing as a PT. Similar to the majority of bachelor's degrees, they generally require 4 years to finish and often include an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are a requirement if you want to become a practicing licensed 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 finish, making the total investment of time seven years in the majority of cases. Clinical or practical training is an essential component along with the considerable classroom and lab instruction. Therefor the completion of an internship is mandated, not just 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 offered in the United States. Some licensed physical therapists holding a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the current licensing requirement for a doctorate was instituted.

Physical Therapy Online Degrees

New River Arizona female student taking physical therapy training onlineAlthough not as prevalent as the on campus options, there are some accredited online physical therapist degrees offered, more so at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on structure of the training, internships and clinical lab work are incorporated with the online classes. This requires that the student live near the college campus or nearby an available internship. Fortunately, the online segment of the program may be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's New River AZ home. Online schools are not only to some extent more accessible, but in many cases more economical. Tuition may be significantly less than comparable on-campus alternatives, and expenditures for commuting are reduced. And many of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These benefits may make the online option the ideal choice for those students that are motivated enough to learn at home.

Questions to Ask Physical Therapist Colleges

By now you most likely have come to decision regarding some of your preliminary questions, like the type of physical therapy degree you want to earn, where you want to attend classes, and how much you can afford to invest in your education. But considering there are so many PT colleges within the New River AZ area and throughout Arizona, you'll need to look into other qualifications also in order to further reduce your list of school options. Furthermore, you need to make certain that you pick the school that is ideal for you. That's why we have put together a list of critical questions that you must ask the physical therapist colleges you are considering. Ask each of the potential colleges these questions before making a final selection.

Is the Physical Therapist School Accredited?  Find out if the schools you are considering have received accreditation from a national or a regional organization. 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 choose 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 just the school. Additionally, make sure that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Along with guaranteeing that you obtain an excellent education, accreditation may be mandated for state licensing as well as for securing student loans or financial aid.

What is the Program's Reputation? Along with 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 look into a PT program's reputation, starting with requesting references from employers that they place their graduates with. You can also search for online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. Contact some New River AZ physical therapy centers or other healthcare facilities that you may have an interest in working for and ask if they can provide any recommendations about your program selections. It may also be prudent to contact the Arizona Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been submitted against the colleges.

What is the Program's Job Placement Percentage? There are a two significant statistics that you need to know about each of the physical therapy colleges you are reviewing. One is their graduation rate. A lower rate might mean that students left because of dissatisfaction with the program, the instructors, or both. Once the students have graduated, how many of them are being placed in jobs with the support of the school's job placement program, particularly in the New River AZ area? If a college has a high job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the medical care community is good or perhaps outstanding. It also confirms that the program has a large network of contacts to assist students obtain internships or employment after graduation.

Does the Program Support Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the program you select provides both excellent training and a course of study that satisfies the licensing requirements for Arizona or the state where you will be practicing. In each state a passing score is needed on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) in addition to a degree from an accredited physical therapy college. While licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PTA and PT graduates, some states require a minimum number of clinical hours be performed and passing scores on supplemental exams.

Are Internships Offered? Inquire if the physical therapist colleges you are assessing have relationships with New River AZ clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent manner to obtain hands on experience in a clinical setting, they are also a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they may help students and graduates develop professional relationships in the New River health care community and assist with job placement 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 probably prefer a small class size. Smaller classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapy schools you are looking at what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you a chance to talk with some of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the physical therapy program as well.

Where is the College Located? For a number of students, the physical therapist school they pick will need to be within commuting distance of their New River AZ home. Those who have chosen to attend classes online obviously will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. Something to bear in mind 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 usually charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges often charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.

Is Financial Assistance Offered? Most DPT colleges supply some type of financial aid to their potential students. Find out if the schools you are considering have a financial aid department and see what kind of help is obtainable. At a minimum they should help in securing a student loan or any scholarships you may be eligible for. Some physical therapist colleges provide scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before you eliminate 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 select can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you decide to continue working while you attend school. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the New River AZ area, check that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would have to enroll in. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss as a result of illness, work or family obligations.

Find Out More About New River Online Physical Therapist Training

Enroll in the Best New River Physical Therapy School

Deciding on the right physical therapy college is a necessary initial decision you need to make to launch a gratifying career in the medical profession. As we have addressed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and college you pick should both have outstanding reputations and accreditation. But there are additional critical questions that you need to ask concerning your college of choice also. As you commence your search for a physical therapy program keep in mind that a number of factors will lead you to your ultimate decision. You might want to visit different campuses to see their facilities and talk to current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this college help me realize my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By following our list of additional questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the options so you can make the ideal choice. And with the proper education and training, you can achieve your dream of becoming a licensed physical therapist in New River Arizona.


 

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