How to Enroll In the Right Physical Therapist College Near Nogales Arizona
Obtaining a physical therapy degree near Nogales AZ is an important first step to launching a rewarding career in the medical care field. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been incapacitated as a result of injury or illness regain function and mobility. But before they may legally practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they need to obtain 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 college. So prior to enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's important to investigate the ones you are considering to make certain they will provide a quality education and meet your state's licensing standards. What you should not do is choose a college just because it happens to be the closest to your residence or it has the lowest tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that need to be evaluated besides cost and location. But before we cover what those qualifications are and the questions you should be asking, we'll address what a physical therapist does and what the educational options are.
What Does a Physical Therapist Do?
Physical therapists practice in diverse settings, such as Nogales AZ private practices, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and health clubs. What the facilities all share in common is that they are equipped for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As previously stated, physical therapists help individuals that are struggling with a lack of mobility and frequently pain due to illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they create a program of treatment to resolve the mobility problems and reduce or eliminate any pain. They also try to stop any advancement of the disability. Although the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are abundant, they include:
- Osteoporosis and Arthritis
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Cardiac arrest
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Burn injuries
- Knee Replacement
- Multiple Sclerosis
Licensed physical therapists work in close association with other Nogales AZ medical specialists, including doctors, chiropractors, registered nurses and dentists. They can also manage one or more physical therapy assistants who work under them in diagnosing and treating their patients. Something to take note of for anyone considering entering the physical therapy profession, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and stand, crouch and kneel for long periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapy Degrees Offered
There are three physical therapy degrees offered for students to enroll in at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these options, the only degree that is attainable that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees emphasize either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or preparing them to advance to the doctoral level. Below are brief descriptions of degree levels that are offered to prospective students in the Nogales AZ area:
- Associate Degrees train students to become physical therapy assistants, or can be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Applicants must have a high school diploma or GED to be accepted for enrollment. The degrees are typically made available by junior or community colleges, and take about 2 years to complete. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is normally part of the course of study.
- Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapist training to prep students to move up to the doctoral level. Although they are not a requirement to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an essential preliminary step to becoming a PT. Similar to the majority of bachelor's degrees, they generally require 4 years to complete and commonly incorporate an internship program of at least 500 hours.
- Doctorate Degrees are a requirement in order 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 three years to complete, making the total investment of time seven years in the majority of cases. Practical or clinical training is an intregal component along with the extensive lab and classroom instruction. Therefor the completion of an internship is mandated, not just for graduation but in a number of 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 United States. Some practicing physical therapists having a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the current licensing mandate for a doctorate was instituted.
Physical Therapist Colleges Online
While not as common as the more traditional options, there are some accredited online physical therapy degrees offered, more so 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 requires that the student live near the school campus or in proximity of an available internship. However, the online part of the curriculum may be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Nogales AZ residence. Online programs are not only to some extent more accessible, but in many cases more economical. Tuition might be somewhat lower than comparable on campus options, and expenses for commuting are minimized. And a number of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These benefits may make the online alternative the right choice for those students that are disciplined enough to attend classes at home.
Subjects to Ask Physical Therapist Schools
By now you probably have made a decision regarding several of your initial queries, including the type of physical therapist degree you want to obtain, where you want to attend classes, and how much you can afford to invest in your education. But since there are numerous PT schools within the Nogales AZ area and throughout Arizona, you'll have to explore other qualifications as well so as to further reduce your list of school choices. Furthermore, you want to be sure that you pick the school that is right for you. That's the reason we have compiled a list of critical questions that you need to ask the physical therapist schools you are reviewing. Ask all of the potential schools these questions before making a final decision.
Is the Physical Therapist School Accredited? Find out if the programs you are reviewing have received accreditation from a national or a regional 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 select an online program, it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapist school and program you choose are accredited, not just the school. Additionally, verify that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Along with guaranteeing 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 School's Reputation? In addition to accreditation, it's essential that the school and program you select have excellent reputations within the physical therapy community. There are several ways you can look into a PT school's reputation, beginning with requesting references from employers that they refer their students to. You may also check online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Contact some Nogales AZ physical therapist centers or other healthcare facilities that you may be interested in working for and ask if they can offer any insight about your school options. It may also be prudent to check with the Arizona Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been filed against the colleges.
What is the College's Job Placement Rate? There are a couple of useful statistics that you need to know about each of the physical therapy colleges you are considering. One is their graduation rate. A lower rate might mean 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 college's job placement program, particularly in the Nogales AZ area? If a college has a higher job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the health care community is good or even outstanding. It also affirms that the program has a broad network of contacts to help students get internships or jobs upon graduation.
Does the College Support Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the program you choose furnishes both exceptional training and a curriculum that supports the licensing criteria for Arizona or the state where you will be practicing. In each state a passing score is required on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) in addition to a degree from an accredited physical therapist school. Although licensing requirements differ state by state for PT and PTA graduates, many states require a minimum number of clinical hours be performed as well as passing scores on supplemental exams.
Are Internships Provided? Inquire if the physical therapy schools you are reviewing have partnerships with Nogales AZ hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific manner to obtain practical training in a clinical setting, they are also a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they may assist students and graduates form professional relationships in the Nogales healthcare community and help with job placement once licensed.
What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of person that prefers to sit way in the rear of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a smaller class size. Smaller classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapist schools you are considering what the typical teacher to student 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 speak with a few of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapist program also.
Where is the School Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapy school they select will need to be within driving distance of their Nogales AZ home. 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 local internships will be of concern. Something 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 need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges usually charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges often charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? The majority of DPT schools supply some form of financial assistance to their prospective students. Ask if the colleges you are considering have a financial assistance office and see what type of assistance is available. At a minimum they should help in securing a student loan or any scholarships you may be eligible for. Some physical therapy schools offer scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before eliminating a college because the tuition is beyond your budget, find out what financial aid may be available.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must verify that the physical therapy program you ultimately select can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you decide to continue working while attending school. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Nogales 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 need to enroll in. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss because of work, illness or family obligations.
Choose the Right Nogales Physical Therapist School
Choosing the ideal physical therapy program is a necessary first decision you need to make to start a gratifying career in the health care profession. As we have addressed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and college you enroll in should both have outstanding reputations and be accredited. But there are other relevant questions that you should ask concerning your college of choice also. As you start your search for a physical therapist school bear in mind that many variables will guide you toward your ultimate decision. You may decide to visit each of the colleges to see their facilities and speak to current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this school help me realize my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By adhering to our list of supplemental questions, you will be able to narrow down the field so you can make the right choice. And with the proper education and training, you can achieve your dream to become a licensed physical therapist in Nogales Arizona.