Physical Therapist Schools | Get Your Physical Therapy Degree – Central AZ

How to Enroll In a Physical Therapist Program near Central 85531

Central AZ physical therapy school student with volunteerObtaining a physical therapy degree near Central AZ is an important first step to beginning a rewarding career in the health care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been disabled as a result of injury or illness gain back function and mobility. But before they may legally practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they need to obtain the necessary education and training. A PT must additionally be licensed in all states, many requiring that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So prior to enrolling in a physical therapy school, it’s important to investigate the ones you are thinking about to make certain they will provide a quality education and comply with 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 home or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other important qualifications that must be considered besides location and cost. But before we discuss 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 is a Physical Therapist’s Job Description?

Central AZ physical therapist helping patient walkPhysical therapists work in varying locations, including Central AZ private practices, hospitals, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and sports facilities. What the facilities all have in common is that they are equipped for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As earlier touched on, physical therapists help patients that are experiencing a lack of mobility and frequently pain caused by injury or illness. After patient diagnosis, they create a course of treatment to address the mobility problems and lessen or eradicate any pain. They also strive to stop any progression of the disability. Although the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Osteoporosis and Arthritis
  • Car or motor cycle accidents
  • Strokes.
  • Cardiac arrest.
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
  • Burn injuries.
  • Knee Replacement.
  • Sciatica.
  • Multiple Sclerosis.

Licensed physical therapists work in close partnerships with other Central AZ medical professionals, including doctors, chiropractors, dentists and nurses. They can also supervise several physical therapy assistants who work under them in diagnosing and treating their patients. One thing to bear in mind for anyone thinking about going into 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 prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degree Options

Central AZ physical therapist applying acupuncture to patientThere are 3 physical therapy degree options offered for students to pursue at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these alternatives, the only degree that is attainable to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees focus on either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or readying them to progress to the doctoral level. Following are brief summaries of degree levels that are available in the Central AZ area:

  • Associate Degrees prepare students to be physical therapy assistants, or may be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Candidates must have obtained a high school diploma or GED to qualify for enrollment. The programs are usually provided by junior or community colleges, and take about two years for completion. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is typically a component of the curriculum.
  • Bachelor’s Degrees are created as pre-physical therapy education to ready candidates to advance to the doctoral level. Although they are not a requirement to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an essential first step to practicing as a PT. As with the majority of bachelor’s degrees, they normally require four years to complete and often incorporate 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 commitment 7 years in the majority of cases. Practical or clinical training is an important component along with the extensive classroom and lab instruction. Consequently the fulfillment of an internship is mandated, not solely 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 phased out and is no longer available in the United States. Some licensed physical therapists holding a master’s or even a bachelor’s degree were “grandfathered” in prior to the existing licensing requirement for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapy Online Degrees

woman attending physical therapy school online in Central AZWhile not as common as the on-campus options, there are some accredited online physical therapy degrees offered, more so at the graduate level. Because of 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 in proximity of an available internship. Fortunately, the online segment of the program may be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student’s Central AZ home. Online schools are not only to some extent more accessible, but in a number of instances more economical. Tuition can be significantly lower than similar on campus alternatives, and costs for commuting are minimized. And a number of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These advantages may make the online alternative the right choice for those students that are motivated enough to attend classes at home.

What to Ask Physical Therapy Programs

At this point you undoubtedly have come to decision regarding several of your preliminary queries, including the kind of physical therapist degree you want to obtain, where you want to attend classes, and how much you can afford to spend for your education. But considering there are numerous PT colleges within the Central AZ area and across Arizona, you’ll have to look into additional qualifications also in order to further reduce your list of school options. Furthermore, you want to make sure that you choose the school that is ideal for you. That’s the reason we have collected a list of essential questions that you must ask the physical therapist schools you are reviewing. Ask all of the competing schools these questions before making a final selection.

Is the Physical Therapy School Accredited?  Ask if the schools you are looking at have received accreditation from a regional or a national agency. 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 enroll in an online college, it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It’s essential that both the physical therapy program and school you enroll in are accredited, not simply the school. Additionally, make sure that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. In addition to ensuring that you obtain an excellent education, accreditation might be required for state licensing and even for getting student loans or financial assistance.

What is the School’s Standing? Along with accreditation, it’s important that the school and program you choose have outstanding reputations within the physical therapy profession. There are a number of ways you can investigate a PT program’s reputation, beginning with requesting references from employers that they refer their students to. You may also search for online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. Contact several Central AZ physical therapy clinics or other health care facilities that you might have an interest in working for and ask if they can provide any advice about your program options. It may also be prudent to contact the Arizona Attorney General and school licensing authority to find out if any complaints have been filed against the schools.

What is the School’s Job Placement Rate? There are a two significant statistics that you should know about all of the physical therapy colleges you are reviewing. One is their graduation rate. A lower rate might indicate that students left due to displeasure with the program, the instructors, or both. After the students have graduated, how many of them are being hired with the support of the college’s job placement program, particularly in the Central AZ area? If a college has a higher job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the health care field is good or perhaps excellent. It also affirms that the program has a broad network of contacts to help students get internships or jobs upon graduation.

Does the School Support Licensing Requirements? It’s imperative that the college you choose furnishes both superior training and a curriculum that supports 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) in addition to a degree from an accredited physical therapist program. Although licensing requirements vary state by state for PT and PTA graduates, some states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be completed and passing scores on supplemental tests.

Are Internship Programs Provided? Ask if the physical therapy programs you are assessing have partnerships with Central AZ clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific way to get practical training in a clinical environment, they are additionally a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they may assist graduates and students establish professional relationships in the Central health care community and assist with obtaining employment after licensing.

How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of student that prefers to sit far in the rear of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a small class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapist schools you are looking at what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classes. 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 converse with several of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the pharmacy tech program also.

Where is the School Located? For a number of students, the physical therapy college they choose will need to be within travelling distance of their Central AZ residence. Individuals who have chosen to attend online classes obviously will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area 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 even out of your local area, you might be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges commonly 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 offer some form of financial support to their potential students. Find out if the colleges you are examining have a financial assistance department and find out what kind of assistance is offered. At a minimum they should help in acquiring a student loan or any scholarships you might be eligible for. Some physical therapist colleges provide scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before you eliminate a program because the tuition is too expensive, ask what financial aid may be available.

Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to verify that the physical therapy school you finally choose can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly essential if you choose to continue working while attending school. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Central AZ area, confirm that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, find out if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would have to carry. Also, learn what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of illness, work or family emergencies.

Earning Your Physical Therapy Degree near Central Arizona?

If you are planning on attending a Physical Therapy School in the Central AZ area, the following information may prove to be both interesting and educational regarding the location of your future Alma Mater.

Central, Arizona

Central is at 32°52′13″N 109°47′35″W / 32.87028°N 109.79306°W / 32.87028; -109.79306, at an elevation of approximately 2900 feet above sea level.[6] From this location just south of the Gila River within the Upper Gila Valley, Mount Graham of the Pinaleño (Pinaleno Mountains) range dominates the southern skyline.

Central was first homesteaded by the Cluff family in 1880. The Cluffs extended the Central Canal to their lands on the eastern side of Central. Later settlers extended the canal west and north. In 1883 construction began on a one-room white rock building to be used as a church meeting house and school house. By 1884 twenty families, including Cluff, Norton, Shurtz, Bigler, and Webster households resided in Central. In 1978 the streets were named after these early Mormon pioneers. In December 1883 the Central Ward of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints was organized and Joseph Cluff was ordained the first bishop. A new red brick church was built in 1885. It was the first regular meeting house built in this part of Arizona and was also the first home of the LDS Academy from December 1890 to May 1891. A plaque east of Hwy 70 on Central Road commemorates the original home of the St. Joseph Stake Academy that later moved to Thatcher and became Eastern Arizona College.

In 1894, LDS Church historian Andrew Jensen reported on the Central Ward: "Thirty-five families or 178 souls, constitute the Mormon population, and there are only two other families in the district. Central excels in point of large orchards, extensive alfalfa fields and good grain. The meeting house is the only public building in the settlement, in which there is also a small store and a post office. There are a number of fine and comfortable private residences, built mostly of brick and adobe."[8]

Choose the Right Physical Therapy School near Central AZ

Deciding on the best physical therapy school is a necessary initial decision you need to make to launch a gratifying career in the healthcare field. As we have covered in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and college you enroll in should both have excellent reputations and accreditation. But there are other critical questions that you need to ask pertaining to your college of choice also. As you commence your search for a physical therapy school, bear in mind that numerous factors will lead you toward your final decision. You may decide to visit each of the schools to view their facilities and talk to active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this program help me accomplish my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By adhering to our list of additional questions, you will be able to narrow down the field so you can make the ideal choice. And with the proper education and training, you can achieve your dream of becoming a practicing physical therapist in Central AZ.

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