How to Enroll In the Right Physical Therapist College Near Andalusia Alabama
Earning a physical therapist degree near Andalusia AL is a critical first step to starting a rewarding career in the healthcare industry. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been debilitated due to injury or illness gain back mobility and function. But before they can practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they must receive the appropriate training and education. 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 selecting a physical therapy school, it's essential to investigate those you are considering to make sure they will deliver a superior education and satisfy your state's licensing requirements. What you should not do is select a school just because it happens to be the nearest to your home or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other significant qualifications that must be evaluated along with 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 the options for education.
What Do Physical Therapists Do?
Physical therapists work in diverse settings, such as Andalusia AL hospitals, health clinics, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and health clubs. What the facilities all have in common is that they are equipped for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As earlier touched on, physical therapists help individuals that are experiencing a lack of mobility and frequently pain caused by injury or illness. After diagnosing a patient, they design a course of treatment to address the mobility problems and lessen or eliminate any pain. They also try to prevent any advancement of the disability. Though the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are numerous, they include:
- Osteoporosis and Arthritis
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Cardiac arrest
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Burn injuries
- Hip Replacement
- Cerebral Palsy
Licensed physical therapists work in close partnerships with other Andalusia AL health specialists, including chiropractors, physicians, dentists and nurses. They can also manage several physical therapy assistants who work for them in diagnosing and treating their patients. One thing to keep in mind for anyone thinking about going into the physical therapy profession, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists often lift patients and heavy equipment, and stand, crouch and kneel for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapist Degrees
There are three physical therapist degrees offered for students to enroll in at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these alternatives, the only degree that is attainable that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees concentrate on either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or readying them to progress to the doctoral level. Below are brief explanations of degrees that are available to prospective students in the Andalusia AL area:
- Associate Degrees prepare students to practice as physical therapy assistants, or can be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Applicants must have earned a high school diploma or equivalent to qualify for enrollment. The programs are usually provided by community colleges, and take about two years to complete. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is normally a portion of the program.
- Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapist training to prep students to advance to the doctoral level. While they are not required to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an essential first step to practicing as a PT. As with most bachelor's degrees, they normally require 4 years to complete and usually include 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 three years to finish, making the total investment of time seven years in most cases. Practical or clinical training is an intregal component in addition to the substantial classroom and lab instruction. Consequently the completion of an internship is required, not only for graduation but in a number of states for licensing as well.
The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) has taken the place of the Master's of Physical Therapy (MPT), which has been phased out and is no longer available in the USA. A number of licensed physical therapists having a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the current licensing mandate for a doctorate was instituted.
Physical Therapy Colleges Online
While not as common as the more traditional options, there are a number of accredited online physical therapy degrees available, 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 close to the school campus or in proximity of a sponsored internship. However, the online segment of the curriculum can be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Andalusia AL residence. Online programs are not only to some extent more accessible, but in many instances more affordable. Tuition can be significantly less than similar on campus options, and costs for commuting are reduced. And many of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These advantages can make the online option the right choice for those students that are motivated enough to learn at home.
Questions to Ask Physical Therapy Schools
By now you most likely have made a decision regarding some of your initial questions, like the type of physical therapist degree you want to earn, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to invest in your education. But considering there are numerous PT schools within the Andalusia AL area and throughout Alabama, you'll need to research other qualifications as well in order to further reduce your list of school options. Furthermore, you want to make certain that you choose the school that is ideal for you. That's the reason we have put together a list of important questions that you need to ask the physical therapy colleges you are reviewing. Ask all of the potential schools these questions before making a final decision.
Is the Physical Therapy Program Accredited? Ask if the colleges you are considering have received accreditation from a regional or a national agency. 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 imperative that both the physical therapist school and program you select are accredited, not simply the school. Also, check that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Besides ensuring that you obtain an excellent education, accreditation may be mandated for state licensing as well as for securing student loans or financial assistance.
What is the College's Ranking? Along with accreditation, it's imperative that the college and program you choose have exceptional 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 can also search for online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. Contact a few Andalusia AL 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 college selections. It might also be a good idea to check with the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to find out if any complaints have been filed against the schools.
What is the College's Job Placement Rate? There are a couple of significant statistics that you need to know about each of the physical therapist programs you are looking at. First is their graduation rate. A lower rate may indicate that students left due to displeasure with the program, the instructors, or both. Once the students have graduated, how many of them are being hired with the assistance of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Andalusia AL area? If a college has a high 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 wide network of contacts to help students obtain internships or jobs after graduation.
Does the College Support Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the school you enroll in furnishes both superior training and a course of study that satisfies the licensing criteria for Alabama or the state where you will be working. In every state a passing score is needed on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapist college. Although licensing requirements fluctuate 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 Offered? Inquire if the physical therapy programs you are assessing have associations with Andalusia AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships an excellent means to get hands on experience in a clinical setting, they are additionally a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they may assist graduates and students form professional connections in the Andalusia health care community and assist with obtaining employment once licensed.
What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the kind of person that prefers to sit far in the back of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will likely want a small class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapy schools you are researching what the average 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 a chance to speak with some of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapist program as well.
Where is the School Located? For a number of students, the physical therapist school they choose will need to be within travelling distance of their Andalusia AL home. Students who have chosen to attend online classes obviously will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. Something to consider is that if you decide to enroll in a college that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges commonly charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges typically charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Most DPT colleges provide some form of financial aid to their potential students. Find out if the colleges you are considering have a financial assistance department and find out what type of help is obtainable. They at least should help in acquiring a student loan or any grants you may be eligible for. Some physical therapist colleges offer 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 School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to verify that the physical therapy program you ultimately select can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you decide to continue working while you attend school. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Andalusia AL area, verify that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would need to enroll in. Also, learn what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss due to illness, work or family obligations.
Choose the Right Andalusia Physical Therapy School
Deciding on the best physical therapist school is an important initial decision you need to make to begin a fulfilling career in the medical profession. As we have covered in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and school you decide on should both have outstanding reputations and be accredited. But there are other critical questions that you should ask concerning your college of choice also. As you begin your search for a physical therapist college bear in mind that many variables will guide you to your ultimate decision. You might decide to visit each of the schools to see their facilities and talk with current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical 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 field so you can make the best choice. And with the proper education and training, you can accomplish your dream to become a licensed physical therapist in Andalusia Alabama.