How to Choose the Right Physical Therapy Degree Program Near New River Arizona
Getting a physical therapy degree near New River AZ is an essential first step to beginning a fulfilling career in the medical care field. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been incapacitated due to illness or injury regain mobility and function. But before they can practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they must get the proper training and education. A PT must also become licensed in every state, many mandating that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So before choosing a physical therapy school, it's important to investigate those you are thinking about to make certain they will provide a quality education and comply with your state's licensing standards. What you do not want to do is enroll in a college simply because it happens to be the closest to your home or it has the lowest tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that must be evaluated in addition to location and cost. But before we discuss 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 Do Physical Therapists Do?
Physical therapists practice in diverse settings, such as New River AZ private practices, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and sports facilities. What the facilities all have in common is that they are equipped for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As previously touched on, physical therapists help individuals that are struggling with a lack of mobility and often pain due to injury or illness. After patient diagnosis, they develop a program of treatment to deal with the mobility issues and lessen or eliminate any pain. They also strive to prevent any progression of the disability. Although the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are abundant, they include:
- Arthritis or Osteoporosis
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Head injuries
- Cardiac arrest
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Burn injuries
- Knee Replacement
- Multiple Sclerosis
Licensed physical therapists work in close association with other New River AZ medical professionals, including doctors, chiropractors, dentists and nurses. They can also oversee several physical therapy assistants who work for them assisting with diagnosing and treating their patients. Something to take note of for anyone considering going into the physical therapy field, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists routinely lift patients and heavy equipment, and stand, crouch and kneel for long periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapy Degree Options
There are 3 physical therapist degree options offered for students to pursue at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these options, the one degree that is attainable that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees target either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or prepping them to progress to the doctoral level. Following are brief explanations of degree levels that are available to prospective students in the New River AZ area:
- Associate Degrees educate students to practice as physical therapy assistants, or may be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Candidates must have earned a high school diploma or GED to be accepted for enrollment. The degrees are typically offered by community or junior colleges, and require two years to complete. An internship or other form of clinical training is typically part of the course of study.
- Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapy education to prepare candidates to move up to the doctoral level. Although they are not required to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an essential first step to becoming a PT. As with the majority of bachelor's degrees, they generally require four years to finish and often include an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
- Doctorate Degrees are required 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 investment of time 7 years in most cases. Clinical training is an intregal element in addition to the substantial classroom and lab instruction. Consequently the completion of an internship is required, not solely for graduation but in some 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 offered in the USA. Some practicing physical therapists holding a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the existing licensing mandate for a doctorate was instituted.
Physical Therapist Online Programs
Although not as prevalent as the on-campus alternatives, there are many accredited online physical therapy programs offered, even more at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on structure of the training, clinical lab work and internships are integrated with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live near the school campus or nearby an available internship. However, the online portion of the course of study can be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's New River AZ residence. Online schools are not only partially more accessible, but in many instances more economical. Tuition can be significantly lower than comparable on-campus alternatives, and costs 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 alternative the best choice for those students that are dedicated enough to attend classes at home.
Questions to Ask Physical Therapist Colleges
At this point you probably have come to decision regarding a few of your preliminary queries, like the kind of physical therapy degree you would like to earn, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much you can afford to invest in your education. But considering there are numerous PT schools within the New River AZ area and across Arizona, you'll need to explore other qualifications also in order to further narrow your list of college choices. Also, you want to be sure that you pick the program that is best for you. That's why we have put together a list of important questions that you must ask the physical therapy programs you are reviewing. Ask all of the potential schools these questions before making a final decision.
Is the Physical Therapy Program Accredited? Ask if the programs you are looking at have earned accreditation from a regional or a national organization. As previously mentioned, if you are pursuing a doctoral degree the program must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). If you enroll in an online program, it may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's essential that both the physical therapist program and school you choose are accredited, not just the school. Additionally, make sure that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. In addition to guaranteeing that you obtain a quality education, accreditation may be required for state licensing as well as for getting student loans or financial aid.
What is the School's Reputation? In addition to accreditation, it's essential that the school and program you select have excellent reputations within the physical therapist community. There are several ways you can research a PT college's reputation, beginning with requesting 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. Get in touch with several New River AZ physical therapy clinics or other healthcare facilities that you might have an interest in working for and ask if they can give you any advice about your college selections. It might 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 schools.
What is the Program's Job Placement Percentage? There are a couple of relevant statistics that you need to know about each of the physical therapy programs you are looking at. First is their graduation rate. A lower rate may mean that students dropped out because of dissatisfaction with the program, the teachers, or both. Once the students have graduated, what percentage 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 school has a higher job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the healthcare community is good or perhaps exceptional. It also verifies that the college has a broad network of contacts to help students obtain internships or jobs after graduation.
Does the College Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's important that the program you select furnishes both excellent training and a curriculum that satisfies the licensing requirements for Arizona or the state where you will be practicing. In every state a passing score is needed on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) in addition to a degree from an accredited physical therapy program. Although licensing requirements differ state by state for PTA and PT graduates, many states require a minimum number of clinical hours be completed as well as passing scores on supplemental exams.
Are Internships Provided? Inquire if the physical therapist colleges you are assessing have partnerships with New River AZ hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific way to obtain hands on training in a clinical environment, they are additionally a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they may assist graduates and students form professional connections in the New River healthcare community and help with job placement after licensing.
What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of student that likes to sit way in the rear of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will likely prefer a small class size. Smaller classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapy colleges you are considering 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 ultimate determination. This will also give you an opportunity to talk with several of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapist program as well.
Where is the College Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapy college they choose will need to be within travelling distance of their New River AZ residence. Individuals who have chosen to attend classes online naturally will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local 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 even 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 live outside of their districts.
Is Financial Help Provided? The majority of DPT colleges supply some type of financial support to their potential students. Inquire if the schools you are considering have a financial assistance office and see what type of aid is available. At a minimum they should help in obtaining a student loan or any scholarships you might qualify for. Some physical therapy colleges offer scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before eliminating a program because the tuition is beyond your budget, find out what financial assistance may be available.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to verify that the physical therapy college you finally choose can provide the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you decide to continue working while you attend school. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the New River AZ area, make certain that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would need to carry. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss because of work, illness or family obligations.
Enroll in the Best New River Physical Therapist School
Picking the best physical therapy program is a necessary initial decision you have to make to start a gratifying career in the healthcare field. As we have addressed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and college you select should both have excellent reputations and accreditation. But there are additional important questions that you need to ask concerning your school of choice as well. As you begin your search for a physical therapy school bear in mind that a number of factors will lead you toward your ultimate decision. You may decide to visit each of the schools to see their facilities and speak to 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 supplemental questions, you will be able to narrow down the options so you can make the right choice. And with the necessary training and education, you can achieve your dream of becoming a practicing physical therapist in New River Arizona.