How to Enroll In the Right Physical Therapy Program Near Albertville Alabama
Receiving a physical therapist degree near Albertville AL is a critical first step to starting a rewarding career in the medical care field. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been incapacitated due to injury or illness gain back mobility and function. But before they may legally practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they must get the appropriate education and training. A PT must also become licensed in every state, a large number requiring that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So prior to enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's necessary to research the ones you are thinking about to make certain they will furnish a quality education and meet your state's licensing requirements. What you should not do is enroll in a school simply because it happens to be the closest to your residence or it has cheapest tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that must be considered along with 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?
Physical therapists practice in varying locations, such as Albertville AL hospitals, health clinics, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and health clubs. What the facilities all share in common is that they have the equipment for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As previously stated, physical therapists help people that are experiencing a lack of mobility and often pain caused by injury or illness. After patient diagnosis, they design a course of treatment to resolve the mobility issues and lessen or eliminate any pain. They also endeavor to prevent 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
- Head injuries
- Heart attacks
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Burn injuries
- Knee Replacement
- Cerebral Palsy
Licensed physical therapists practice in close association with other Albertville AL medical professionals, including doctors, chiropractors, dentists and nurses. They may also supervise several physical therapy assistants who work under them assisting with the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. One thing to keep in mind for anyone thinking about getting into the physical therapy profession, it is rather 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 Therapist Degrees Available
There are 3 physical therapy degrees available for students to enroll in at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these alternatives, the one degree that is attainable that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees target either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or readying them to progress to the doctoral level. Following are short explanations of degrees that are offered to prospective students in the Albertville AL area:
- Associate Degrees prepare students to practice as physical therapy assistants, or may be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Applicants must have a high school diploma or GED to qualify for enrollment. The degrees are typically provided by community colleges, and take about 2 years to complete. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is usually a portion of the curriculum.
- Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapist education to prepare students to move up to the doctoral level. While they are not a requirement to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an essential first step to becoming a PT. Similar to most bachelor's degrees, they normally take 4 years to finish and often incorporate an internship program of at least 500 hours.
- Doctorate Degrees are a requirement 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). After earning the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes three years to finish, making the total commitment seven years in most cases. Practical or clinical training is an intregal element in addition to the extensive classroom and lab instruction. Therefor the completion of an internship is mandated, 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 eliminated and is no longer attainable in the USA. Some licensed physical therapists holding a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the present licensing requirement for a doctorate was instituted.
Physical Therapist Schools Online
While not as prevalent as the on-campus options, there are many accredited online physical therapist degrees offered, more so at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on structure of the training, clinical lab work and internships are integrated with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live close to the college campus or nearby a sponsored internship. Fortunately, the online part of the curriculum can be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Albertville AL home. Online schools are not only partially more accessible, but in many cases more affordable. Tuition can be significantly less than similar on-campus options, and expenditures for commuting are minimized. And many of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These advantages can make the online option the right choice for those students that are disciplined enough to attend classes at home.
Subjects to Ask Physical Therapy Schools
At this point you most likely have made a decision regarding some of your initial queries, like the kind of physical therapist degree you would like to earn, where you want to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to spend for your education. But since there are numerous PT colleges within the Albertville AL area and across Alabama, you'll need to explore other qualifications as well in order to further reduce your list of college options. Moreover, you need to be sure that you choose the school that is best for you. That's the reason we have compiled a list of essential questions that you must ask the physical therapy schools you are reviewing. Ask all of the competing colleges these questions prior to making an ultimate decision.
Is the Physical Therapist Program Accredited? Find out if the colleges you are considering have earned accreditation from a regional or a national organization. As earlier mentioned, if you are pursuing a doctorate the program must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). If you choose an online college, it can also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's essential that both the physical therapy school and program you select are accredited, not just the school. Also, make sure that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Besides ensuring 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 Program's Reputation? In addition to accreditation, it's important that the college and program you choose have outstanding reputations within the physical therapy profession. There are several ways you can investigate a PT program's reputation, starting with asking for 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. Call a few Albertville AL physical therapy clinics or other medical care facilities that you might be interested in working for and ask if they can give you any advice about your college selections. It may also be a good idea to check with the Alabama 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 important statistics that you should find out about all of the physical therapy colleges you are reviewing. First is their graduation rate. A low rate might mean that students dropped out due to displeasure with the program, the teachers, or both. Once the students have graduated, how many of them are being placed in jobs with the support of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Albertville AL area? If a school has a high job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the health care field is good or perhaps outstanding. It also affirms that the school has a large network of contacts to assist students obtain internships or jobs upon graduation.
Does the School Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's important that the school you enroll in furnishes both exceptional training and a curriculum that satisfies the licensing criteria for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing. In each state a passing score is needed on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) as well as a degree from an accredited physical therapy program. Although licensing requirements differ state by state for PT and PTA graduates, some states require a minimum number of clinical hours be performed as well as passing scores on additional tests.
Are Internships Offered? Inquire if the physical therapy schools you are evaluating have partnerships with Albertville AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships an excellent way to obtain practical experience in a clinical setting, they are additionally a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they may help students and graduates form professional relationships in the Albertville health care community and help with obtaining employment after licensing.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of person that prefers to sit way in the back of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will probably want a small class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapy schools you are considering 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 final decision. This will also give you an opportunity to converse with a few of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapy program also.
Where is the College Located? For many students, the physical therapist school they pick will have to be within driving distance of their Albertville AL residence. Students who have chosen to attend classes online obviously will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of importance. Something to keep in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a program that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges typically charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges normally charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.
Is Financial Support Provided? The majority of DPT schools offer some type of financial support to their potential students. Ask if the schools you are examining have a financial assistance department and find out what type of aid is offered. At a minimum they should help in acquiring a student loan or any scholarships you may qualify for. Some physical therapist colleges offer scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before eliminating a school because the tuition is too expensive, learn what financial assistance might be available.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must confirm that the physical therapist program you finally choose can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you choose to continue working while you attend school. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Albertville AL area, make sure that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, find out if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would need to enroll in. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Albertville Physical Therapist School
Deciding on the ideal physical therapist program is an important first decision you must make to begin a gratifying career in the health care field. As we have discussed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and college you decide on should both have excellent reputations and accreditation. However there are additional critical questions that you should ask pertaining to your school of choice as well. As you start your search for a physical therapist program bear in mind that many variables will lead you to your final decision. You might decide to go to different schools to view their facilities and speak to active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this college help me accomplish my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By following our list of additional questions, you will be able to narrow down the options so you can make the best selection. And with the proper training and education, you can fulfill your dream of becoming a licensed physical therapist in Albertville Alabama.