How to Find the Right Physical Therapy Program Near Albertville Alabama
Obtaining a physical therapist degree near Albertville AL is an important first step to launching a fulfilling career in the healthcare industry. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been disabled as a result of illness or injury regain function and mobility. But before they can practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they need to get the necessary training and education. A PT must also become licensed in all states, a large number mandating that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So prior to choosing a physical therapy school, it's essential to research those you are looking at to make sure they will provide a superior education and meet your state's licensing criteria. What you should not do is select a college simply because it happens to be the closest to your residence or it has cheapest tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that must be evaluated 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 the options for education.
What is a Physical Therapist?
Physical therapists work in a variety of settings, including Albertville AL hospitals, health clinics, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and sports facilities. What the facilities all have in common is that they are equipped for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As earlier mentioned, physical therapists help patients that are suffering from a lack of mobility and often pain caused by injury or illness. After patient diagnosis, they create a program of treatment to resolve the mobility problems and lessen or eliminate any pain. They also try to stop any advancement of the disability. Although the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are numerous, they include:
- Arthritis or Osteoporosis
- Car or motor cycle accidents
- Head injuries
- Heart attacks
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Fire injuries
- Hip Replacement
- Multiple Sclerosis
Licensed physical therapists work in close affiliation with other Albertville AL medical specialists, including doctors, chiropractors, registered nurses and dentists. They can also supervise several physical therapy assistants who work for them in diagnosing and treating their patients. One thing to take note of for anyone considering entering the physical therapy field, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists routinely lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and stand, crouch and kneel for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapist Degree Options
There are three physical therapy degrees offered for students to enroll in at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these alternatives, the only degree that is offered that qualifies the graduate to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees emphasize either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or preparing them to progress to the doctoral level. Below are brief explanations of degrees that are offered to prospective students in the Albertville AL area:
- Associate Degrees train students to become physical therapy assistants, or may be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Applicants must have a high school diploma or GED to qualify for enrollment. The programs are usually offered by community colleges, and take about two years for completion. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is typically part of the program.
- Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapist training to prep students to progress to the doctoral level. Although they are not a requirement to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an essential initial step to practicing as a PT. Similar to most bachelor's degrees, they normally require 4 years to complete and often include 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 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 finish, making the overall commitment 7 years in the majority of cases. Clinical or practical training is an essential element in addition to the extensive lab and classroom instruction. Consequently the completion of an internship is mandated, not only 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 eliminated and is no longer offered in the United States. A number of licensed physical therapists having a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the existing licensing requirement for a doctorate was instituted.
Physical Therapy Online Colleges
While not as prevalent as the on campus alternatives, there are many accredited online physical therapy programs available, even more at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on nature of the training, internships and clinical lab work are combined with the online classes. This requires that the student live close to the college campus or in proximity of an available internship. However, the online portion of the course of study may be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Albertville AL home. Online schools are not only partially more accessible, but in many instances more economical. Tuition can be somewhat less than comparable on-campus options, and costs for commuting are minimized. And a number of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These benefits can make the online option the best choice for those students that are disciplined enough to attend classes at home.
What to Ask Physical Therapy Programs
At this point you probably have come to decision concerning several of your preliminary questions, including the type of physical therapist degree you intend to attain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much 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 need to research other qualifications as well so as to further narrow your list of college choices. Moreover, you want to make certain that you select the program that is ideal for you. That's why we have compiled a list of essential questions that you need to ask the physical therapy programs you are thinking about. Ask all of the potential colleges these questions prior to making an ultimate selection.
Is the Physical Therapist College Accredited? Find out if the colleges you are reviewing have earned accreditation from a national or a regional organization. As previously mentioned, 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 school, it can also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's important that both the physical therapist school and program you choose are accredited, not just the school. Also, verify that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. In addition to ensuring that you receive a quality education, accreditation may be mandated for state licensing and even for getting student loans or financial aid.
What is the College's Ranking? Along with accreditation, it's important that the college and program you pick have outstanding reputations within the physical therapy community. There are several ways you can research a PT college'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 several Albertville AL physical therapist clinics or other healthcare facilities that you might be interested in working for and ask if they can offer any advice about your school selections. It may also be prudent to contact the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to find out if any complaints have been submitted against the schools.
What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? There are a couple of significant statistics that you need to know about each of the physical therapist schools you are looking at. First is their graduation rate. A lower rate might indicate that students dropped out because of displeasure with the program, the teachers, 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 Albertville AL area? If a school has a higher job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the medical care field is good or perhaps excellent. It also verifies that the school has a broad network of contacts to help students obtain internships or employment after graduation.
Does the Program Support Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the school you select provides both superior training and a course of study that supports the licensing requirements 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) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapy college. Although licensing requirements vary state by state for PT and PTA graduates, many states require a minimum number of clinical hours be completed as well as passing scores on additional tests.
Are Internships Offered? Ask if the physical therapist programs you are assessing have partnerships with Albertville AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a great manner to receive practical experience in a clinical environment, they are additionally a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they can assist students and graduates form professional relationships in the Albertville healthcare community and assist with job placement after licensing.
How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of student that prefers to sit way in the back of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will likely prefer a smaller class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapist schools you are researching what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you a chance to converse with some of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapy program also.
Where is the School Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapist college they pick will need to be within commuting distance of their Albertville AL home. Students who have chosen to attend online classes naturally will not have to worry 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 choose to enroll in a school that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges normally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges often charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Most DPT schools provide some type of financial aid to their potential students. Find out if the schools you are considering have a financial assistance office and find out what type of aid is available. At a minimum they should help in obtaining a student loan or any grants you might be eligible for. Some physical therapy schools provide scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before you eliminate a school because the tuition is too expensive, learn what financial assistance might be available.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to confirm that the physical therapy school you finally pick can provide the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you decide to continue working while you attend school. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Albertville AL area, check that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, find out if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would need to enroll in. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss due to illness, work or family obligations.
Enroll in the Right Albertville Physical Therapist School
Picking the ideal physical therapy college is a necessary initial decision you must make to begin a fulfilling career in the health care field. As we have covered in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and college you enroll in should both have exceptional reputations and be accredited. However there are other critical questions that you need to ask concerning your school of choice also. As you start your search for a physical therapy program keep in mind that a number of variables will lead you toward your final decision. You may want to go to each of the schools to view their facilities and speak with 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 selection. And with the proper training and education, you can fulfill your dream to become a licensed physical therapist in Albertville Alabama.