How to Select the Right Physical Therapy Course Near Albertville Alabama
Getting a physical therapist degree near Albertville AL is a critical first step to beginning a rewarding career in the health care field. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been disabled due to injury or illness gain back function and mobility. But before they may legally practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they must acquire the appropriate training and education. A PT must also be licensed in every state, a large number requiring that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So prior to selecting a physical therapy school, it's essential to investigate the ones you are thinking about to ensure they will provide a quality education and comply with your state's licensing requirements. What you do not want to do is select a school simply because it happens to be the closest to your home or it has the lowest tuition. There are other significant qualifications that must be considered besides cost and location. But before we discuss what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, we'll cover what a physical therapist does and what the educational options are.
What is a Physical Therapist?
Physical therapists practice in a variety of locations, such as Albertville AL hospitals, health clinics, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and sports facilities. What the facilities all share in common is that they have the equipment for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As earlier stated, physical therapists help individuals that are experiencing a lack of mobility and in many cases pain due to injury or illness. After patient diagnosis, they develop a program of treatment to address the mobility issues and reduce or eliminate any pain. They also strive to stop any advancement of the disability. Although the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are numerous, they include:
- Osteoporosis and Arthritis
- Car or motor cycle accidents
- Head injuries
- Cardiac arrest
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Burn injuries
- Knee Replacement
- Cerebral Palsy
Licensed physical therapists practice in close association with other Albertville AL health specialists, 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. Something to keep in mind for anyone thinking about going into the physical therapy profession, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift patients and heavy equipment, and stand, crouch and kneel for long periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapy Degrees Offered
There are 3 physical therapist degree options available for individuals to pursue at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these choices, the single degree that is offered that qualifies the graduate to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees concentrate on either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or preparing them to progress to the doctoral level. Following are brief explanations of degrees that are offered to prospective students in the Albertville AL area:
- Associate Degrees prepare students to become physical therapy assistants, or may be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Applicants must have earned a high school diploma or GED to qualify for enrollment. The programs are most often provided by junior or community colleges, and take about two years for completion. An internship or other form of clinical training is typically part of the curriculum.
- Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapy training to prepare candidates to advance to the doctoral level. Although they are not required to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an integral first step to practicing as a PT. As with the majority of bachelor's degrees, they typically take 4 years to finish and often include an internship program of at least 500 hours.
- Doctorate Degrees are a requirement in order to become a practicing licensed 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 3 years to finish, making the overall commitment seven years in the majority of cases. Clinical training is an important element in addition to the extensive lab and classroom instruction. Therefor the fulfillment of an internship is mandated, not just for graduation but in several states for licensing also.
The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) has taken the place of the Master's of Physical Therapy (MPT), which has been eliminated and is no longer offered in the United States. Some practicing physical therapists holding a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the existing licensing requirement for a doctorate was implemented.
Physical Therapist Online Programs
Although not as prevalent as the on-campus alternatives, there are some accredited online physical therapist degrees offered, more so at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on nature of the training, internships and clinical lab work are combined with the online classes. This requires that the student live near the school campus or nearby an available 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 economical. Tuition may be significantly lower 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 benefits may make the online alternative the right choice for those students that are dedicated enough to learn at home.
Topics to Ask Physical Therapy Colleges
By now you most likely have made a decision regarding some of your initial queries, like the type of physical therapy degree you would like to earn, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to spend for your education. But considering there are numerous PT schools within the Albertville AL area and across Alabama, you'll have to look into additional qualifications as well so as to further reduce your list of school options. Moreover, you need to make sure that you select the school that is best for you. That's the reason we have compiled a list of critical questions that you must ask the physical therapist colleges you are considering. Ask each of the potential colleges these questions before making a final selection.
Is the Physical Therapy College Accredited? Ask if the colleges you are looking at have earned accreditation from a regional or a national agency. 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 select an online college, it can also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapist school and program you select are accredited, not just the school. Additionally, verify that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. In addition to ensuring that you obtain an excellent education, accreditation might be required for state licensing as well as for getting student loans or financial aid.
What is the School's Ranking? Along with accreditation, it's imperative that the school and program you pick have exceptional reputations within the physical therapist community. There are multiple ways you can investigate a PT school's reputation, beginning with asking for references from employers that they place their graduates with. You can also check online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. Contact some Albertville AL physical therapy clinics or other medical care facilities that you might be interested in working for and ask if they can offer any insight about your school options. It might also be a good idea to contact the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been filed against the colleges.
What is the College's Job Placement Percentage? There are a two important statistics that you should find out about all of the physical therapist colleges you are considering. One is their graduation rate. A lower rate might suggest that students left due to displeasure with the program, the teachers, or both. After the students have graduated, how many of them are being hired with the assistance of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Albertville AL area? If a school has a higher job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the health care field is good or even excellent. It also confirms that the college has a broad network of contacts to help students gain internships or jobs after graduation.
Does the School Support Licensing Requirements? It's important that the program you select provides both superior training and a course of study that satisfies the licensing requirements for Alabama 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 therapy college. Although licensing requirements vary state by state for PT and PTA graduates, a number of states require a minimum number of clinical hours be completed as well as passing scores on additional tests.
Are Internship Programs Sponsored? Ask if the physical therapy schools you are interested in have partnerships with Albertville AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only a great way to receive practical experience in a clinical setting, they are also a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they may help students and graduates form professional connections in the Albertville medical community and help with obtaining employment after licensing.
What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the type of student that likes to sit far in the back of class or hide in the crowd, you will probably prefer a small class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapy colleges you are researching what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you an opportunity to converse with several 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 therapist college they decide on will need to be within driving distance of their Albertville AL residence. Students who have opted to attend online classes naturally will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of importance. Something to consider is that if you decide to enroll in a college that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you may need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges often charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges frequently charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? The majority of DPT colleges supply some type of financial assistance to their prospective students. Inquire if the schools you are considering have a financial assistance office and see what type of assistance is obtainable. At a minimum they should help in getting a student loan or any grants you may be eligible for. A number of physical therapy schools provide scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before eliminating a program because the tuition is beyond your budget, learn what financial aid might be available.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must verify that the physical therapist 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 need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Albertville AL area, confirm that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, check if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would have to carry. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss because of illness, work or family obligations.
Enroll in the Right Albertville Physical Therapy School
Picking the best physical therapy program is an important initial decision you must make to begin a fulfilling career in the medical field. As we have covered in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and college you select should both have exceptional reputations and accreditation. However there are additional critical questions that you need to ask concerning your school of choice as well. As you commence your search for a physical therapist school bear in mind that a number of variables will guide you to your ultimate decision. You might decide to visit each of the schools to see their facilities and speak to current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this school help me achieve my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By following our list of supplemental questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the field so you can make the ideal choice. And with the necessary education and training, you can accomplish your dream to become a licensed physical therapist in Albertville Alabama.