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How to Choose the Right Physical Therapist School Near Nogales Arizona

Nogales Arizona physical therapist working with female patient using balance ballEarning a physical therapy degree near Nogales AZ is an important first step to starting a fulfilling career in the healthcare field. Physical therapists (PT) help patients 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 appropriate education and training. A PT must also be licensed in all states, a large number mandating that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So prior to choosing a physical therapy school, it's necessary to investigate the ones you are looking at to ensure they will furnish a superior education and comply with your state's licensing criteria. What you do not want to do is enroll in a college simply because it happens to be the nearest to your residence or it has cheapest tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that need to be considered along with location and cost. 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 is a Physical Therapist's Job Description?

Nogales Arizona physical therapist assisting female patient to walk

Physical therapists work in varying locations, such as Nogales AZ private practices, hospitals, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and health clubs. What the facilities all have in common is that they are equipped for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As previously mentioned, physical therapists help individuals that are experiencing a lack of mobility and frequently pain caused by 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 prevent any progression of the disability. Though the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Car or motor cycle accidents
  • Head injuries
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Sports injuries
  • Fire injuries
  • Hip Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists practice in close affiliation with other Nogales AZ medical professionals, including chiropractors, physicians, dentists and nurses. They can also oversee one or more physical therapy assistants who work for them in diagnosing and treating their patients. One thing to bear in mind for anyone thinking about entering the physical therapy profession, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists often lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and kneel, crouch and stand for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degree Options

Nogales Arizona physical therapist working with man in pool

There are three physical therapist degrees offered for individuals to enroll in at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these options, the single degree that is available 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 preparing them to progress to the doctoral level. Below are short descriptions of degrees that are available to prospective students in the Nogales AZ area:

  • Associate Degrees educate students to practice as 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 most often provided by community colleges, and take about 2 years for completion. An internship or other form of clinical training is normally a portion of the curriculum.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapist training to prepare students to progress to the doctoral level. While they are not a requirement to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an integral first step to practicing as 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 mandated if you want to become a practicing licensed 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 three years to complete, making the overall commitment 7 years in most cases. Clinical or practical training is an important component in addition to the extensive lab and classroom instruction. Therefor the fulfillment of an internship is required, not just for graduation but in a number of 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 USA. A number of practicing physical therapists holding a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the current licensing requirement for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapist Programs Online

Nogales Arizona woman taking physical therapist training onlineAlthough not as prevalent as the on-campus alternatives, there are some accredited online physical therapy degrees offered, even more 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 necessitates that the student live near the college campus or in proximity of a sponsored internship. However, the online segment of the curriculum may be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Nogales AZ home. Online schools are not only partially more accessible, but in a number of instances more economical. Tuition can be significantly lower than comparable on-campus alternatives, and expenditures for commuting are minimized. And a number of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These benefits may make the online option the ideal choice for those students that are disciplined enough to attend classes at home.

What to Ask Physical Therapy Schools

By now you probably have come to decision regarding several of your preliminary queries, like the kind of physical therapist degree you would like to attain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to invest in your education. But since there are numerous PT colleges within the Nogales AZ area and throughout Arizona, you'll have to research additional qualifications as well in order to further reduce your list of college options. Moreover, you need to be sure that you pick the college that is right for you. That's the reason we have collected a list of critical questions that you need to ask the physical therapist schools you are reviewing. Ask all of the competing colleges these questions prior to making an ultimate selection.

Is the Physical Therapy College Accredited?  Ask if the programs you are looking at have received accreditation from a national or a regional agency. As earlier 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 can also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapist program and school you select are accredited, not simply the school. Additionally, make sure that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Besides ensuring that you receive a quality education, accreditation may be mandated for state licensing and even for securing student loans or financial assistance.

What is the School's Ranking? Along with accreditation, it's essential that the school and program you select have outstanding reputations within the physical therapist profession. There are a number of ways you can look into a PT program's reputation, starting with asking for 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. Call a few Nogales AZ physical therapist centers or other medical care facilities that you may be interested in working for and ask if they can offer any advice about your program options. It might also be prudent to contact the Arizona Attorney General and school licensing authority to find out if any complaints have been submitted against the colleges.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? There are a couple of significant statistics that you need to find out about all of the physical therapy programs you are considering. One is their graduation rate. A low rate may mean that students dropped out because of displeasure with the program, the teachers, or both. Once the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being hired with the help of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Nogales AZ area? If a program 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 school has a large network of contacts to help students get internships or jobs after graduation.

Does the Program Support Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the school you enroll in provides both excellent 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) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapy school. While licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PT and PTA graduates, a number of states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be performed as well as passing scores on additional tests.

Are Internships Sponsored? Inquire if the physical therapy colleges you are reviewing have relationships with Nogales AZ clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific manner to receive practical experience in a clinical environment, they are also a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they may assist students and graduates develop professional connections in the Nogales healthcare community and assist with job placement after licensing.

What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the sort of student that likes to sit way in the back of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will probably want a smaller class size. Small classes permit more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapy colleges you are reviewing 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 determination. This will also give you an opportunity to talk with a few of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the physical therapist program as well.

Where is the College Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapy college they pick will have to be within travelling distance of their Nogales AZ home. Individuals who have opted to attend classes online naturally will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. Something to consider is that if you choose to enroll in a school that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges typically charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges commonly 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 assistance to their prospective students. Inquire if the schools you are reviewing have a financial aid office and find out what type of assistance is offered. At a minimum they should help in obtaining a student loan or any scholarships you might be eligible for. Some physical therapist schools provide scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before you eliminate a school because the tuition is beyond your budget, learn 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 pick can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you decide to continue working while you attend classes. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Nogales AZ area, check that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, find out if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would have to carry. Also, find out what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss due to work, illness or family obligations.

Find Out More About Nogales Physical Therapy Degrees

Choose the Best Nogales Physical Therapist School

Picking the ideal physical therapist program is a necessary first decision you have to make to launch a fulfilling career in the medical profession. As we have discussed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and school you enroll in should both have excellent reputations and be accredited. But there are other relevant questions that you should ask pertaining to your school of choice as well. As you start your search for a physical therapist college bear in mind that a number of factors will guide you to your final decision. You may decide to go to different campuses to view their facilities and talk with active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this school help me reach 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 best choice. And with the necessary training and education, you can accomplish your dream of becoming a licensed physical therapist in Nogales Arizona.


 

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